2004: ”Oh look, they were drinking Jack Daniels and eating KFC! LOL! What a bunch of blue collar dirt dogs! Look at them taking shots together. What great chemistry! This really was a team of destiny!”
2011: “Oh my God, they were drinking beer and eating Popeye’s! How DARE they disrespect the game like that! They clearly lost all of their desire to win! I want a full investigation into this! WHY WON’T ANYBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!”
The point is: as always, it’s all about winning. Public opinion will be framed around the on-field result. Kevin Millar could have passed around a spoonful of black tar heroin during the 2004 ALCS, and the media would have found a positive spin on it.
Interestingly enough, in both 2004 and 2011, the team was one strike away from a very, very different media narrative.
Some other thoughts on BeerGate:
- I felt a little better about the situation when I heard that the Lester/Beckett/Lackey trio was drinking Bud Light. These guys weigh 250 lbs, they would have to drink a gallon of that swill to feel any sort of impairment. If anything, it quenched their thirst.
- A lot of people are more outraged over the rumor that the pitchers might have been drinking in the dugout, as opposed to the clubhouse. But really, why does it matter? The situation is the same: drinking during a game in which they were not scheduled to pitch. Is the dugout somehow more sacred than the clubhouse? It certainly doesn’t look like it, with all of the sunflower seeds and tobacco spit on the floor.
- It appears that everyone is assuming Larry Lucchino leaked this story, but I don’t buy it. If there’s one thing Lucchino is not, it’s stupid. He wouldn’t create this sort of shitstorm over his own organization. My guess is that the source is much lower in paygrade, someone you’ve probably never heard of. A middle-management type, or perhaps even a clubhouse employee.
- The one thing that I am a tad outraged over is that it appears that (according to Jon Lester’s rundown on the situation) some of the team was treating Terry Francona like the blind substitute teacher in a 6th grade social studies class. Just walking all over him with little regard to authority. Francona has always had a laissez-faire style of leadership, but it seems as if some of the players were taking advantage of that.