Thing in Boston just ugly. Errr, uglier. Double errr, even uglier.
In a season where that has been dogged by reports of clubhouse tension between Red Sox players and manager Bobby Valentine, Yahoo's Jeff Passan may have just blown the dang roof off the whole thing with his explosive report yesterday detailing several key Boston players holding a meeting with ownership to allegedly demand the ouster of Bobby V.:
Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia were among the most vocal in the meeting, in which some players stated flatly they no longer wanted to play for Valentine, the sources said. The tenor of the 2 p.m. meeting at The Palace hotel in New York turned ugly almost immediately, according to the sources, whom Yahoo! Sports granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about internal matters.
Like, zoiks, Scoob! That doesn't sound good at all. In fact, that sounds like an outright mutiny. And we aren't just talking about your basic managerial mutiny but rather the kind of mutiny that could topple the entire Red Sox power structure.
Whether or not you side with the Red Sox players or with Valentine, the message is clear that his status as manager of the Red Sox has become untenable. When the multiple core players feel the need to tattle on you to ownership, there is no going back. Sure, Pedroia is backtracking to save face in public, but with multiple sources within the organization and an incriminating photo to boot, nobody is going to believe that he really is cool with Valentine continuing on as skipper.
This mutiny puts the BoSox management in a very delicate position. They blew out beloved manager Terry Francona after "Beer and Chicken"-gate and happily part ways with their former golden boy GM Theo Epstein this last off-season all so they could give the franchise a makeover, capping it off with the hiring of Valentine despite multiple reports that team president Larry Lucchino had to overrule new GM Ben Cherington to make it happen. For management to cave now and axe Valentine because he upset the players wouldn't just be letting the inmates run the asylum, it would be handing them the deed and power of attorney.
If Lucchino and his cohorts want to at least save a little bit of face, they'll likely wait until after the season to make a move on Valentine. Only then they will frame it as a "resignation" or a "mutual decision to go in a different direction." But everyone will still know that what their really doing is eating a Costco economy-sized helping of crow (probably fried and washed down with a six-pack of Sam Adams). But that's the easy part. The players get their pound of flesh with Valentine gone, but they are going to want more. Potentially a lot more.
After erring so badly with Valentine, management will have to bend over backwards to make sure their next hire pleases the angry mob of multi-millionaires in the clubhouse. The only catch is they have to find a way to do it without just letting the likes of Pedroia and Gonzalez hand-picking the manager themselves. Of course, that is easier said than done with the notoriously proud and strong-willed Lucchino still making the final call on every major decision in the Red Sox organization.
With all that said, there is still a possibility, albeit a miniscule one, that Valentine somehow survives this mutiny. In this age of pro sports, team owners almost never pick the coach over the star players, but it isn't out of the question in this situation. The Red Sox roster has shown some major deficiencies dating back to their epic collapse in the final weeks of the 2011 season. As they found out the hard way, a new type of manager isn't going to come in and fix all of those flaws. Maybe instead of finding a new manager to better fit the roster, Boston can take the bold step of overhauling the roster so that it better fits the manager. Such a strategy would require moving around a lot of big money contracts, so it is probably impractical, even for a cash-machine like the Red Sox. But, hey, if ever there was a time to kick off a major rebuild, it is now while everyone is already pissed off and screaming for blood.
Whatever the Red Sox decide to do, it is safe to say that this uprising is only just the beginning of what could be an off-season full of metaphorical bloodshed in Boston.