It’s hard for me to make sense of this whole drinking-in-the-clubhouse-and-possibly-dugout story. I do not care, but apparently I am lonely in not caring. Unless I am just one of many, many people who do not care and continue to click on the articles, thus giving the (digital) impression that I care.
I think people are frustrated with the collapse, and are looking to pin it on booze, a Massachusetts tradition dating back to 1620. Let’s be clear: the beer drinking, if an issue at all, was a symptom of the collapse, not a cause of it. Doc Gooden announced this week that he missed the 1986 Mets parade because he was on a coke binge. If he was sober during the World Series, I will eat my backpack.
Yes, in the 25 years since then, baseball players have developed better training regimens. Often, these training regimens have included steroids, and it should be noted that the 2004 Red Sox—who openly drank Jack Daniels in the clubhouse during the playoffs—looked like a Marvel Comics lineup out there. What can we do? We won, and we’re not going to apologize. Now we lost, and the players must grovel and cop to substance problems they don’t have. If it’s that easy, it’s a fixable problem. Ban booze, and up goes banner number eight.
It’s not that simple. I believe it was the philosopher Kenny Powers who observed that “fundamentals are a crutch for the talentless.” You don’t get to the show without being able to play. You need to resist the temptation to give yourself to booze, but a 240-pound man drinking a beer with the alcohol content of Poland Spring? Come on.
This not to say there wasn’t anything fundamentally wrong with the 2011 Red Sox, by the end. This team lost all hope in a way a team this talented really never has before. Losing seemed like a fait accompli from the moment the downward drift started, but that doesn’t mean it was one. They came perilously close to making the playoffs as it was. They didn’t. Oh well.
The players have owned up to drinking beer, and called it a non-issue. It’s the one thing they’ve gone out of their way to stress means absolutely nothing in the context of the current discussion. The collapse, the sense of dread, all of it was real. The team pushed each other to fail, but it’s not life and death, and certainly bears no relation to 17th century ideas about drinking. End the witch trial, and watch the Bruins.