Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester defended himself and his teammates after a recent report about pitchers eating fried chicken, playing video games and drinking in the clubhouse during games.
“I’m trying to set the record straight,” Lester told ESPN Boston in one of a number of interviews. “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.”
Responding to allegations reported by the Boston Globe last week, Lester told the Globe on Monday that drinking was confined to starters who weren’t pitching. “It was a ninth-inning rally beer,” he said. “We probably ordered chicken from Popeye’s like once a month. That happened. But that’s not the reason we lost.
“Most of the times it was one beer, a beer. It was like having a Coke in terms of how it affected you mentally or physically. I know how it looks to people and it probably looks bad. But we weren’t up there just drinking and eating and nobody played video games. We watched the game.”
The Red Sox went through an epic September swoon, one that helped speed the departure of manager Terry Francona and presumed departure of general manager Theo Epstein. The Epstein-to-Chicago move hinges on the Sox and Cubs agreeing to compensation; Boston reportedly sought Cubs starter Matt Garza, but Chicago refused.
With the upheaval continuing, Lester told the Globe that, while he hadn’t asked to speak for Beckett, Lackey or the other starters, he felt compelled to speak up.
“Consider us a unit when it comes to these accusations,” he said. “We either fall together or rise above it all together whether they like it or not. Things got magnified because we lost and sources started telling people what happened, which has me upset because if you’re going to say something, be a man to put your name to it. But we’re not bad people and we’re not a bad group of guys.
“Are there things I regret? Sure there are. But nothing happened that had me unprepared to pitch. I don’t blame people for wanting answers because we had a hell of a team and we lost. You can’t have a team that gets paid like we get paid and loses and not expect people to want answers.”
Lester pointed out that members of the 2004 Red Sox drank Jack Daniel’s whiskey before Game 4 of the American League Championship Series and before each game of the World Series, in which they swept the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Those guys were celebrated as ‘The Idiots,’ ” Lester said, “and they were drinking shots. What’s the difference? They won and we lost, so we’re devils, we’re bad people.
“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.”