McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Sports

October 31, 2013

Sox prove ‘team’ still matters

(Continued)

McALESTER —

This newfound attitude was a breath of fresh air to Sox fans who had to go through the melodrama of the previous two seasons. Knowing the team needed a makeover, general manager Ben Cherington dumped two players who didn’t contribute to a productive workplace: outfielder Carl Crawford, who never looked comfortable in a Red Sox uniform, and Josh Beckett, who by the end carried himself like he no longer wanted to play baseball.

Cherington got the Los Angeles Dodgers to take the two troublemakers away midway through the 2012 season, and he threw in power-hitter Adrian Gonzalez to sweeten the deal.

With the locker room cleared of those bad apples, Cherington then brought in the perfect manager to run his new clubhouse: Farrell.

Bobby Valentine, a snake oil salesman who tried to mask a lack of managerial talent with volume, had utterly failed in that role in 2012, so much so that many players went to the Sox owners in August 2012 to voice their frustrations.

Never one to get talked down, once the season ended Valentine accused David Ortiz of quitting on the team.

A year later, Ortiz became the team’s elder statesman, rallying everyone together with speeches in the dugout and contributing a historic World Series performance that ended in an utterly unsurprising Most Valuable Player trophy.

With a new manager and a new clubhouse atmosphere, Dustin Pedroia returned to being a .301 hitter. Pitcher John Lackey cut his ERA nearly in half, all the way down to .352, and out-dueled pitching phenoms Justin Verlander and Michael Wacha in the postseason. Pitcher Jon Lester won six more games and took a run off his ERA compared to 2012.

Some of that no doubt came from Farrell’s background as a former pitching coach with the Red Sox. And some of it came from the same supportive, motivating atmosphere that propelled the entire clubhouse.

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