Bad Chemistry Doomed Boston
The best manager in Boston history is gone.
The best manager in Boston history is gone.

Posted Oct 3, 2011


After the Red Sox completed their historic September collapse, general manager Theo Epstein wasted no time putting the situation into perspective.

"This is one for the ages, isn't it?" Epstein said.

On Sept. 1, the Red Sox were in first place in the AL East and had a nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the wild-card race. But they went 7-20 in September, and on the season's frantic final night, they were overtaken after losing in the ninth inning in Baltimore and seeing the Rays win an extra-inning game.

After the collapse, there was chaos. Epstein and manager Terry Francona revealed clubhouse chemistry problems that existed even before September and were amplified down the stretch. Sources told the Boston Herald that several pitchers often would drink beer in the clubhouse during games they didn't pitch, and NESN analyst Jim Rice described the clubhouse as "a spa."

Then, two days after the season ended, Francona and the Red Sox parted ways, ending the manager's eight-year tenure in Boston.

Epstein insisted the Red Sox were talented enough to reach the playoffs and play deep into October, and with a $160-plus million roster, they should have been. Over nearly four months, they posted an 81-42 record, best in the American League, and appeared to be a postseason favorite. But a 2-10 start and the 7-20 finish underscored deeper issues that must be resolved before next season.

Identifying those issues will be Epstein's greatest challenge.

"We have an opportunity now, coming off as disappointing a month as there's ever been in baseball history, as disappointing a last day of the season as there's ever been in baseball history, for players to step up and take the reins a little bit," Epstein said.

"I'm confident in this group of players and their character."

Step one will be finding a new manager to lead them. Epstein said previous major league managerial experience is preferred, though it isn't a prerequisite.

Beyond that, the Red Sox must figure out how to bolster a rotation that faltered badly down the stretch. In September, Red Sox starters posted a 4-13 record and 7.08 ERA. In particular, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett were unable to be the stoppers that the Red Sox needed them to be.

Conditioning also proved to be an issue, with several players unwilling to put in the time to remain in peak shape throughout the season.

"I'm confident in this group of players and their character," Epstein said.

"I think there are guys who are leaders now who are really going to step up and really lead this club in the face of what we just went through."



Related Stories
Q&A with Terry Francona
 -by InsideTennessee.com  Jan 21, 2012
Not Old Yet
 -by IndiansInk.net  Mar 1, 2014
Wakefield Finally Nabs 200th
 -by DiehardMagazine.com  Sep 14, 2011

MAGAZINE COVERAGE
Subscribe today and get a full year of Diehard Magazine with an annual Total Access Pass.
Sign Up Today!

Upgrade Now!
Free Email Newsletter
Don't miss any news or features from DiehardMagazine.com. Subscribe to our newsletter to have our newest articles emailed to you on a daily or weekly basis.
Click here for a list of all Team Newsletters.

Add Players to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite players. Click name to add to My HotList.
P Josh Beckett (profile)
Mgr. Terry Francona (profile)
SP Jon Lester (profile)
[View My HotList]
Add Topics to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite topics. Click link to add to My HotList.
Baseball > Arizona > Alumni
Baseball > Boston
[View My HotList]