Eliminate those distractions — namely the booze — and you can build a World Series title contender.
At least that’s what first-year Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine hopes.
And Valentine is not the only new manager trying to change the locker room culture of his team. In Miami, the always-quotable Ozzie Guillen had a few choice words about the importance of punctuality.
“Stand up for the National Anthem and don’t be late,” Guillen said in a profanity-laced rant via the Palm Beach Post. “One thing that really pisses me off, if you’re not there for the National Anthem. That’s the only rule I have. If you can go by that easy one, then we’ve got no problems.”
Team chemistry — both in the clubhouse and in the dugout — will be key for the new-look Marlins this spring. With the unpredictable Guillen leading a team that already includes mercurial star Hanley Ramirez and picked up powder-keg pitcher Carlos Zambrano , it could be a season full of censor-worthy outbursts in Miami.
Back in Boston, where the beer-drinking, fried chicken-eating clubhouse habits of pitchers Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey were deemed a root cause for the team’s collapse — and manager Terry Francona’s ouster — it sounds like the Red Sox are on board with Valentine’s booze ban. Among the several teams who ban clubhouse drinking are the 2011 World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
“We’re not here to drink. We’re here to play baseball,” veteran slugger David Ortiz said. “This ain’t no bar. If you want to drink, drink at home.”
Beckett and Lester both apologized for their clubhouse behavior when they reported to Fort Meyers, Fla. last week.
Back in Jupiter, Guillen would rather focus on being on time for the National Anthem.
“A lot of people have been killed to make this country free for us. You should be there for at least two minutes,” he said. “Respect that, especially if you come from another (expletive) country, you should be there an hour before.... I think it looks good for baseball when you are in the stands and you see the team respect the National Anthem. Kids can see that, the respect.”
Whether an added dose of discipline will remedy what plagued the Red Sox down the stretch last fall or help the Marlins return to National League East contention remains to be seen. But if nothing else, the dugouts in Boston and Miami will be worth watching.
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