Any hope to salvage the Boston Red Sox’s 2015 season was laid to rest earlier this week. Boston’s own 95-million-dollar man, the Kung Fu Panda, hammered the last nail in the casket as the Fenway Faithful gathered around, said a few words and lit the thing on fire. Whether you agree with baseball’s social media policy or not is irrelevant. The latest episode of televised mini-series “The Red Sox Just Don’t Care” goes beyond Pablo Sandoval using a cell phone in the bathroom, which let’s be honest, everybody does. It comes down to accountability and, dare I say, ‘pride‘.
In case you have been living under a rock for the past 48 hours, Sandoval used his cell phone in the middle of Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to Atlanta to hop on Instagram and “like” at least two pictures on a woman’s account. Barstool Sports blogger Jared Carrabis broke the story.
Like I stated earlier, whether you believe this is a big deal or not is completely irrelevant. Sandoval was benched for one game, so this was not an incredibly major offense. The fact of the matter is you are being paid millions – $17.6 to be exact – to perform at the highest level and not doing your best to do so is unacceptable. To be perfectly honest, I don’t even care about the phone, and I certainly wouldn’t care about it if he were pulling his own weight this season. No pun intended.
Pablo Sandoval has been anything but stellar since signing with the Red Sox. His 9 errors are the worst on the team and nearly double those of the next guy. His dWAR is at -0.9, second-worst in his career. For a ballplayer with such highly touted defensive abilities, they have been all too absent thus far.
However, Sandoval doesn’t care. As evidenced by his celebration following a meaningless fluke triple off the Green Monster in the 9th inning of Sunday’s 13-5 loss to the Blue Jays. He acted like he had just tied the game. The Red Sox would go on to lose that game, their sixth in a row. Herein lies the problem.
Where is the leadership? Where are the clubhouse guys who hold others accountable for their performance and actions on and off the field. For all we hear about David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia being the elder statesmen of the team, there has been absolutely no indication that anything has been done on their end. This laissez-faire attitude may sound familiar to Red Sox fans.
The 2011 Red Sox were on pace to reach 100 wins in August, before a historic September collapse. The infamous Chicken and Beer clubhouse was a sobering reminder to fans everywhere that at the end of the day allegiances in all sports are usually paper-thin and baseball is like any other business. An employee looks after their own interests first and foremost.
While Sandoval’s social media habits do not equate to drinking beer and asking Josh Beckett to pass you another drumstick while teammates are out on the field trying to win games, there is still the underlying theme of apathy. That clubhouse presence seems clearly absent.
Unfortunately the system works both ways. Clubhouse guys like Jonny Gomes, who got a mural-sized tattoo of the 2013 World Series Celebration on his ribcage, and Jake Peavy, who bought the Duck Boat he road around Boston during the victory parade, were quickly traded away for what now appears to be pennies on the dollar. With this much turnover it is hard for any fan base to get behind their guys and even harder for players to be fully invested in a team.
The Red Sox front office has shown an affinity towards blowing up the team and starting all over. The fact that it has worked before (twice!) will surely come back to haunt them in the long run. Another hard reset of the roster will be impossible with the lack of pitching depth and mammoth contracts Hanley Ramirez and Sandoval signed in the offseason.
No, this will be different. The Red Sox will have to work with what they have and somebody will need to step up. The talent is definitely there. This is what makes the whole situation even more frustrating. Yet talent isn’t everything. If someone doesn’t flip a table in the clubhouse soon and hold players’ feet to the fire this will be a long couple of years for everyone involved. As an avid Instagram user myself, nothing about this 2015 season deserves a like.