of inmates and asylums


This was a fascinating James comment on several levels.  He doesn't usually comment on the Red Sox, especially off-field.  But the circumstances here were common knowledge.


I was wondering if you had any thoughts about Terrell Owens not making the NFL Hall of Fame. I find TO a fascinating figure, a top-5-ever wideout who infuriated just about everyone around him with a concrete list of specific bad acts that always seemed very paltry whenever I tried to get people to name what he had done that was so bad. Baseball has its PED barrier to the Hall but I don't think we have a true parallel for TO -- Bonds is the closest, I suppose, Bonds had a way of irritating people too that sometimes caused them to perceive him irrationally. Or maybe I'm all wrong about all of this. What do you think?
Asked by: wovenstrap

Answered: 2/9/2017
Dick Allen is the parallel.   Dick Allen did all the things that TO did, but was much worse than TO.  
I know I have mentioned this, but I met TO a couple of times at a convention in Portugal.   He was just absolutely charming--as Dick Allen was, to many people--and I certainly don't want to knock him or to dwell on his past mistakes.    I also don't know enough about Terrell to engage in that discussion.   
But off-the-field conduct is very, very relevant to the success of teams.  When teams fall apart at the center--that is, when players decide that they don't like one another and don't trust one another--I absolutely believe that that shows up on the field.    These things are difficult to explain and at the present time impossible to measure, but many things which are true are difficult to explain and impossible to measure.    
I have always believed this, and, if I had ANY doubt that it was true, that doubt was ended in September of 2011, when what started as an off-field, irrelevant personal conflict ended in a historic collapse by a team that we believed on September 1 to be the best team in Red Sox history. 
- James


So, this is an acknowledgement that off-field behavior / team chemistry can *hurt* a team on the field. If chemistry can affect a team negatively, it's not clear why state of mind cannot affect a player positively. 

Sabermetricians (BJOL company excepted) are agreed that a player can be a choker, so to speak, and then he washes out of the big leagues, or goes 7-19 for the Yankees, or something. Odd that they resist the idea of an UPside coming from better-than-average state of mind.  This is a paradox at Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs, that they'll be happy to assume the downside of the mental game but will strictly rule out the upside.


The September collapse in Boston that year ... hm.  Going into Sept. 1, the Sox had won 6 of 8, improving their record to 83 and 52, leading the AL East by 1.5 games.  By 'best team' James may be referring to the tremendous depth up and down the roster ... Clay Buchholz looked like a budding star but had to battle Andrew Miller for the 5 SP slot.  Papelbon was a star closer.  Daniel Bard was sensationalizing the setup role in one of the early monster bullpens.  Erik Bedard and DiceK scrabbled to get a few innings.  We're not even talking about the Big Four, Beckett - Lester - Lackey - Wakefield.

Offensively that team scored 875 runs.  AGone had an Edgar year at .338/.410/.548.  David Ortiz had a .398 OBP and .554 SLG.  Jacoby Ellsbury was setting himself up for huge money by going .321/.376/.572 with 39 stolen bases and 119 runs scored; he looked like he could become the best player in baseball.  Dustin Pedroia had a great year.  

They had Kevin Youkilis, J.D. Drew, Carl Crawford, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Josh Reddik, Jason Varitek, Mike Cameron.  Break up the Sox.

But on Sept. 1, A.J. Burnett beat Jon Lester as the Sox dropped a rubber game to the Yankee$.

On Sept. 2, Andrew Miller was wiped out for 6 runs in 1.1 innings while Derek Hlland fired a 2-hit, 0-walk shutout* - obviously looking like a "hangover" game.  

The Sox split the next two games and then on Sept. 5 they lost a walkoff game, 1-0 in 11 innings.  Boom, they were -2.5 out.

They went 7-22 in September to wallow like a garbage scow -8 games out, and this was the best Sox team in 100 years per James. That was the season the "fried chicken in the clubhouse" thing erupted into a melodrama.  Here's an even more interesting link on it.  Generally speaking, when a pro sports coach gets Wakamatsu'd I consider the coach innocent until proven guilty. Like Pedroia said, the players make the money and it works best when they police themselves.


Dr D

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