BOSTON -- Jon Lester went to great lengths in an attempt to restore his good name and clear the air in the Red Sox clubhouse on Monday, taking issue with the portrayal of the team's starting pitchers as "a bunch of drunk, fried-chicken eating SOBs."
In a wide-ranging interview with ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes, one of several interviews Lester did with Boston media outlets, Lester forcefully disputed the way the team has been characterized in the aftermath of its September collapse.
“I’m trying to set the record straight,’’ Lester said, insisting he was acting on his own and not at the behest of anyone else, including the team. “It’s tough to sit back and let people bash your name, and that’s what they’re doing.
“You know what? We didn’t play good baseball. People are making us out to be a bunch of drunk, fried-chicken eating SOBs, playing video games. You can ask my wife, for the last 10 years I don’t think I’ve played a single video game, and Josh (Beckett) and Lack (John Lackey) are the same way. But one person writes an article, and things have gotten blown way out of proportion, almost to another planet. We’re getting crushed.’’
Lester was referring to a story that appeared in the Boston Globe last Wednesday, in which “team sources” described a clubhouse in which starting pitchers Beckett, Lackey and Lester had beer and fried chicken in the clubhouse during games in which they were not pitching.
Lester acknowledged Monday that he and fellow pitchers Beckett and Lackey had an “occasional” beer, what he termed “a ninth-inning rally beer.’’
“Did we drink an occasional beer? Yes,’’ he said. “Did it affect our performance in September? No. This stuff has been going on long before September, and not only in this clubhouse, but 29 other clubhouses too. We ordered fried chicken maybe three times in six months. Other guys who were not playing that day would come in and have a bite to eat.
“But what people are trying to do is a witch hunt. They’re looking for any reason to basically tear somebody’s head off because we lost, and people right now are saying it’s because we did this. I’m not shying away from saying I did it. I admit it, and I’m sure the other guys would say it too.
“But we lost because we did not play good baseball. We did not execute Boston Red Sox good baseball.’’
Lester also attempted to place the blame for the team's poor finish on himself and the rest of the players, and no one else.
“I’m not making excuses for what we did. I’m owning up to what I did. But I can honestly tell you that I was prepared every five days -- and so were the other guys -- to go out and perform. We were physically prepared to perform. But I stunk, plain and simple. I’m not going to shy away from that. I stunk.
“When all is said and done, none of this was Tito’s fault, or Theo (Epstein)’s fault, or the fault of Larry Lucchino or John Henry or Tom Werner. It was not the trainer, Mike Reinold, or (assistant trainers) Greg Barajas or Masai (Takahashi) or (strength coach) Dave Page.
“It was not their fault. It was our fault. That’s the message I’m trying to get across. It’s not about beers, it’s not about Tito, it’s not whether there were no rules, it’s not anything. It’s performance. And we didn’t do it.’’
Lester said he recognizes that “is not the answer people want, especially with our payroll being the second-highest in baseball, they want a reason. I understand that. If I was a fan, I would too.
“I think a lot of guys are going to have chips on their shoulder next spring, there will be an urgency, they want to prove people wrong. I hope fans don’t jump off and think, ‘These guys are a bunch of idiots, not like the ’04 idiots, but a bunch of overpaid babies and jump off from our team. I hope they keep supporting us.
“We still care about each other, we care about winning. That’s the main issue I’m trying to express. We care. We want to win. We want to be professional. We’re all still good guys, regardless of what the public thinks of us.
“We’re good people.’’
For much more from Lester, including his take on Terry Francona's tenure in Boston and its abrupt end, click here.