08/24/12 2:13 PM ET
Controversy a way of life for Red Sox Nation
By Terence Moore / MLB.com
You know about the turmoil. It began last September, when the Red Sox did the unprecedented by blowing a nine-game lead in the race for the American League Wild Card with 24 games left to play.
In the midst of it all, some Red Sox players (OK, starting pitchers Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and John Lackey) spent time in the clubhouse washing down their fried chicken with beer.
Not a good look. Well, it's better than the Red Sox's look of now, which is that of a team reeling in the AL East standings courtesy of confusion and controversy.
You know, just like Red Sox Nation likes it.
I'm serious. After Tuesday night's 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels at Fenway Park, the Red Sox stretched their all-time record streak for consecutive home sellouts to 776. I mention as much because the streak began on May 15, 2003, when the Red Sox still were considered jinxed by that Babe guy, and the streak hasn't stopped, despite the Red Sox sitting closer to last place than to third place.
The bottom line: Red Sox fans love pain more than prosperity. As a result, you get the feeling that the majority of them pull like crazy in the shadows for the Chicago Cubs every season.
Contrary to what Red Sox Nation wishes to believe, its team isn't the most hexed in the history of sports. It's the Cubs, and the Cubs are wallowing again near the bottom of the National League Central with one of the worst records in baseball, while the Red Sox are just mediocre.
Not only that, the Cubs have zero pennants since 1945 and no World Series championships since 1908. In contrast, the Red Sox won the World Series twice in four years through 2007, and they've captured six pennants since the Cubs' last World Series appearance.
If that isn't enough, the Cubs once had postseason glory roll through the legs of first baseman Leon Durham. That was in 1984 -- which was two years before the Red Sox had exactly the same thing happen involving their first baseman named Bill Buckner.
You get the idea. The ineptness of the Cubs over the decades is raining on the Red Sox's misery parade, and Red Sox fans want that storm all to themselves.
They want everybody from George Will to Doris Kearns Goodwin to Ken Burns to wax poetically forever about their Red Sox as the ultimate lovable losers -- even though it isn't true (see above). They want to fume over this player and that one for ineptness. They want to whine about how the manager and the general manager don't know the difference between Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard.
Mostly, they want the Curse of the Bambino to live.
It officially died in 2004. That's when the Red Sox rallied against the evil New York Yankees during the American League Championship Series and captured their first World Series since they sold Babe Ruth to those pinstriped folks a year after the Red Sox's previous World Series championship in 1918.
The Red Sox won it all again in 2007. Then, in a flash, Red Sox Nation lost the essence of its being, which is suffering.
Oh, how it enjoys suffering.
The Buckner thing. Losing 1975 World Series at home after Carlton Fisk's dramatic homer the night before. Despite the "Impossible Dream" of a regular season in '67, the Red Sox couldn't handle the St. Louis Cardinals during that postseason. There were those love-hate affairs over the decades between Red Sox fans and superstars Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice.
But back to the Red Sox's present, where their home sellout streak continues with no end in sight. That streak continues despite the team and the organization providing enough turmoil this season to say the streak should have ended days or weeks ago.
That is, if Red Sox Nation didn't enjoy turmoil.
Here's the latest: They just fired their pitching coach. Not the manager or the general manager or anybody else of more significance when it comes to affecting wins and losses. They whacked the pitching coach, which means the aforementioned Bob McClure wasn't allowed to finish his first season with the Red Sox.
Guess the batting coach is next. Then the first- and third-base coaches, before they get to the ushers and batboys.
There also was the Bobby Valentine mess, the latest one. It involved a meeting between Red Sox players and members of ownership after a group of players requested the chat through a text message.
While some reports said the players wanted Valentine fired as their manager, others suggested this was just a bonding session without the marshmallows and the crackling fire.
As for other Valentine issues, they've kept sports-talk radio vibrant in Boston since he became the manager during the offseason. First, he held a "private" meeting with Beckett -- before going public with aspects of the meeting. Then he angered parts of the clubhouse at the start of the season by saying the popular Kevin Youkilis wasn't "physically and emotionally" into playing.
Youkilis eventually was traded.
The Red Sox's soap opera didn't end, though. David Ortiz said earlier in the summer that he wasn't having fun because of media reports about his team's dysfunctional ways. The Red Sox have placed 25 different players on the disabled list, and that's the most for any big league team since 1987. Plus, on Monday, they announced that outfielder Carl Crawford will have season-ending Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.
Here's the thing about Crawford: Since signing a seven-year contract worth $142 million before last season, he has been a target of Red Sox fans, especially because of his lack of production. So here is Crawford, complying with management's wishes to have surgery now instead of waiting until after the season.
Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona spoke Sunday night on ESPN about the perception of it all.
"We're on the outside looking in," said Francona. "We don't know all the medicals. But I don't like the idea of not playing until they tell you to go home [as in being officially eliminated from playoff contention]. When they make you go home, then you go home."
Thus more controversy.
Which is just fine for Red Sox Nation.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.