Big League Stew - MLB

The predictable flamethrowing officially begins in BostonFried chicken, beer and video games.

The collapse of the 2011 Boston Red Sox now has a symbolic flashpoint for angry fans to shake their heads at, thanks to a Boston Globe article that's burning up the Internet on Wednesday morning.

Written by Bob Hohler, the piece was built on interviews with mostly anonymous individuals "familiar with the Sox operation at all levels."

Among other things, it alleges the following:

• Pitchers Jon Lester(notes), John Lackey(notes) and Josh Beckett(notes) (pictured above) were indifferent and had an "anemic" work ethic, as well as "a habit" of drinking beer, eating fried chicken and playing video games in the clubhouse during games. When a team trainer suggested the trio were getting out of shape, his concerns were quickly brushed aside.

• Manager Terry Francona struggled with personal problems relating to his marriage and health all season and was ineffective when trying to rein in the clubhouse culture.

• The team was angry at ownership for the scheduling of a day-night doubleheader against the Oakland A's so any conflicts with Hurricane Irene could be avoided. The Red Sox won both games, but it was the last two-game winning streak of the season.

• Pretty much every player outside of Dustin Pedroia(notes) and Jonathan Papelbon(notes) did not exhibit any signs of leadership as the year crumbled around them.

The article is making plenty of waves, even among all the Theo Epstein-to-Chicago news, and it's easy to see why. Most postmortems usually don't contain the type of ax-grinding details found in this one. Then again, most teams don't collapse like the Red Sox did. Most media bases would've stopped looking for someone to blame two weeks after the fact.

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It's being suggested by a lot of people that this piece doesn't get written if the Red Sox win two more games down the stretch in their awful 6-20 September. Others have said that Boston's foibles would be spun into positives had they stayed on track to make the World Series. Knowing how narratives are written, both assumptions are probably true.

But what's also true is that any team with high expectations is extremely susceptible to this kind of finger pointing. No one wants to wear the failure and so we're subjected to the type of anonymous scapegoating that would have never seen the light of day had the team won. The 2004 Chicago Cubs pinned all of their trouble on Sammy Sosa and his boombox after he left Wrigley Field early on the final day of the season. Management even went as far as to provide surveillance video of Sosa's car leaving the parking lot. Think that happens if they planned on Sosa still being a productive member of the Cubs in 2005? Of course not.

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This situation in Boston is a little bit different in that only a few of the accused won't be with the team next season. But with a number of the accused far from exile, this blame game in Boston looks like it's only getting started.

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