I suppose I'd be somewhat remiss if I didn't address the story that came out in today's Boston Globe alleging that various Boston Red Sox pitchers were eating fried chicken, drinking beer, and playing video games in the clubhouse during games. The first question is how does this relate to the Orioles? As a follow-up, I wonder what kind of beer they were drinking; was it just straight Bud/Miller/Coors? Probably not, but for what it's worth Samuel Adams' amber Oktoberfest is my favorite! (Boston beer, right?!) Glad I got that out of my system! Having said that, in my opinion this shows a total lack of respect for one's teammates, the opponent(s), and most importantly the game and it's fans. Just because you're a pitcher and you unofficially have the game off doesn't mean that's how things ultimately pan out. Remember the O's/Yankee game that went to 15 innings and Jeremy Guthrie had to come in to finish the game? What would Josh Beckett do in that situation if someone came to get him to warm up and he had chicken grease all over his face and had downed four or five beers? Furthermore, the fact that those guys figured that they were so good that they could do that and still win games shows a blatant lack of respect for their opponents.
So again, what does this have to do with the Orioles? First off, things aren't always what they seem. For the past few years we've heard so much about how world-class the Red Sox organization is, and how the Orioles pale in comparison. You get where I'm going with this? The O's might have their issues in total, however I'm not sure anything like this has ever occured in the clubhouse. Furthermore, it more brightly magnifies what a crossroads in time that final game of the season might end up being. Removed from context, the O's won their final game and prevented a division foe from going to the playoffs. However as I said at the time, that game might end up being a juncture-point for both franchises. Terry Francona ended up mutually parting ways with the team, and as of today Theo Epstein has left the Sox for the Chicago Cubs. So 2012 will bring a whole new management team for the Red Sox, and as always that will potentially come with a few personnel changes on the field. (Translated: will a new manager want to inherit a group of players that think they can manage team management instead of the opposite?)
Obviously Andy MacPhail is no longer the GM of the Orioles, and regardless of who replaces him we'll see some major changes in 2012. However can we definitively say that those changes will be to the betterment of the team, and that the changes undergone by the Red Sox will make them take a step backwards? Of course not. The Red Sox will still be a formidable enemy, while the Orioles will still have their growing pains...in 2012. However as I said, that one game may well have been a critical juncture point in the future histories of these franchises and of the division. Remember in Back to the Future when the Doc kept saying how the lightning bolt hitting the clock tower was some sort of juncture point in the universe? That's kind of what I'm talking about.
One way or the other, odds are that the sense of entitlement shown by some of the players had a huge role in Francona's decision not to return to the team. Speaking for myself, I never liked Francona, however I do have a newfound respect for him if that is in fact the case. It takes a big man to walk away from such a lucrative position due in essence he doesn't have the respect of his players. It'll be interesting to see where both teams head in the offseason in their respective situations. However one thing is for sure; the Red Sox players have failed to understand that they owe a debt to the game of baseball. Not the other way around.