“One or Two Bad Apples”

"I’m impressed by the attitude that our guys have right now about it.  The research that we did on the Japan trip from the teams that have gone previously is one or two bad apples can spoil the lot.  Kevin Brown and Mike Mussina spent the whole time bitching about it.  By the time the Yankees team got back from the trip they were all using it as a crutch" said Theo Epstein last Friday on WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan Show.  Epstein’s comment was made in response to a question about the Red Sox upcoming trip to Japan.

Mussina responded with "Yeah, we used it as an excuse for winning the division."

David Ortiz Derek Jeter won’t need to worry about any motivational speeches this season. The Steinbrenners are Theo is taking care of that all by themselves himself.

55 comments… add one
  • Just so we are clear before I start a riot…I am not attacking Theo on his comments. Mussina was a pain in the arse on that trip and he did b*tch and moan. This post is not an attack on Paul’s previous Hank post. Now have at it.

    John - YF February 26, 2008, 10:18 pm
  • After their first 10 games in 2004, the Yankees were 5-5. After the first 24, they were 13-11 (the Sox were 15-9). That’s not quite winning the division. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to claim that the trip adversely affected them in the short term. And while the 04 Yankees won the division (beating their pythag record by 12 games), they didn’t win when it counted most.

    Andrew F (Sox Fan) February 26, 2008, 11:06 pm
  • So all Theo has to do is repeat statements such as that for the next 152 days (in a row) and he’ll close in on the Steinbrenners record for boorishness.

    Dirty Water February 26, 2008, 11:16 pm
  • For SFs and YFs, you only have to remember one little phrase for this upcoming season: There Will Be Blood!

    SoxFan February 27, 2008, 1:01 am
  • Joba with Jim Rome.
    He looks a LOT slimmer. I daresay he isn’t even chubby. Thank god for Joe Girardi, I say.

    AndrewYF February 27, 2008, 1:26 am
  • Agreed Andrew. I saw him on Rome Is Burning yesterday and I was surprised–and afraid–by how he looks. I hate Joba to death, but I was hoping he would gain more weight to keep him from succeeding. That kid is gunna be great this year.

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 8:22 am
  • Some funny stuff in this article in the Herald today about some Red Sox players previous visits to Washington…

    LocklandSF February 27, 2008, 9:31 am
  • Oops, wrong link…
    Coco Crisp, who said he will vote for either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in November, will keep his politics private.
    “I’m not going to say anything, but I’m excited. Maybe I can take a picture,” Crisp said. “I’ll listen to him talk, maybe laugh a little bit. He’s a funny guy.”

    LocklandSF February 27, 2008, 9:34 am
  • JD Drew…
    “I want one of those all-access passes so I can roam around,” the right fielder said. “I want to get into the Oval Office and get underneath his desk and see if I can find any hidden compartments like they did in that ‘National Treasure’ movie.”

    LocklandSF February 27, 2008, 9:35 am
  • I don’t think a GM or FO employee should ever talk about a player of another team unless it is to praise them… it’ll just serve to piss of fans and get the mediots mouths foaming…

    Ric February 27, 2008, 11:44 am
  • It’s surprisingly out of character for Theo though.

    LocklandSF February 27, 2008, 11:50 am
  • Holy balls I just realized that the first spring training games are today, in one hour! Something to watch!

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 12:03 pm
  • Really, Atheose? Where are they being televised?

    AndrewYF February 27, 2008, 12:08 pm
  • This is a stupid comment from Epstein, in particular his naming names. Very impolitic, even if it might be accurate.

    SF February 27, 2008, 12:13 pm
  • if you have a subscription to mlb.tv you can watch them. That was my birthday present from my parents this year ;-)

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 12:32 pm
  • As an aside, here is Murray Chass on Mussina/Japan, from last February:
    A few years ago, when the Yankees were opening the season in Japan, Mussina resented that the team had to make that trip and let everyone know it. He didn’t stop complaining, and he proceeded to have a mediocre season, arguably his worst, and there was a feeling that he got himself into a mental rut over the trip and never emerged from it.
    The Times archive once again proves a treasure trove, search for “Mussina Japan” for the dates from March 1, 2004 thru April 15th, 2004 and you hit a goldmine.

    SF February 27, 2008, 12:42 pm
  • I wonder if Theo thought commenting like that was fair game, since he was summarizing New York Times coverage, i.e. it was common knowledge. It’s still weird, since Theo usually talks like a press release, but I guess the radio guys caught him in an unrehearsed thought.
    Going just off what was quoted in the post, I find it sort of cryptic, actually. A ‘crutch’? How is that a crutch?

    FenSheaParkway February 27, 2008, 12:50 pm
  • This comment from Theo is silly. I don’t want what is essentially trash talk coming from the FO’s mouth.

    Devine February 27, 2008, 12:55 pm
  • If you go to WEEI’s site you can listen to the entire interview. It took place last Friday. I listened to the entire thing and I will say this Theo knew what he said and didn’t hesitate in saying what he said. It’s common knowledge that Mussina needs to be handled with kid gloves, but it really wasn’t his place to make those comments. All it really shows us is in this rivalry both sides have their moments of weakness and words they wish they could take back.

    John - YF February 27, 2008, 1:08 pm
  • Trash talking players of another team is the lowest of low blows from a front office suit, especially when they will never have to get on the field and actually compete. Funny how many have so much fun delighting in the words of the Steinbrothers, but even they have never sunk so low.

    A YF February 27, 2008, 1:13 pm
  • And the truth of how Mussina acted has nothing to do with anything, unless you’re okay with the Steinbrothers talking about how none of their players have ever quit in August (2006 Sox) nor asked for a trade in every off-season (Manny). It’s not their place, and if they do ever speak up on those matters, you bet I’ll condemn them.

    A YF February 27, 2008, 1:15 pm
  • On a more interesting Spring note:
    The Baseball America experts go through their debate about why Joba was ranked ahead of Buchholz:
    “Chamberlain’s superior fastball makes him the better bet to be a long-term ace. In fact, it makes him the best pitching prospect to come around since I’ve been at BA, surpassing Josh Beckett and Mark Prior.”
    – John Manuel
    -Subscribers only

    A YF February 27, 2008, 1:21 pm
  • I am in the process of putting together a post on the BA piece. But in the meantime in fairness…
    Jim Callis: “In terms of pure stuff, I think Buchholz’ curveball and changeup are right up there with Chamberlain’s fastball and slider. I’d love to have either of those guys, but I’d take Buchholz for two reasons. One, his plus fastball and occasional plus slider give him a deeper repertoire. And two, given their pasts and their builds, I think Buchholz is a better bet to stay healthy over the long haul.”

    John - YF February 27, 2008, 1:25 pm
  • A YF, you’re nothing but a troll, so I don’t know why I’m responding…but…
    “none of their players have ever quit in August (2006 Sox) nor asked for a trade in every off-season (Manny).”
    Manny has not asked for a trade EVERY off season.
    There is no way for you or anyone else to prove that Manny wasn’t injured at the end of the 2006 season.

    LocklandSF February 27, 2008, 1:28 pm
  • Funny how many have so much fun delighting in the words of the Steinbrothers, but even they have never sunk so low.
    Sure. Like smearing an entire rival organization (or entire rival sports league), implying in paranoid fashion that the Mitchell Report had anti-Yankee (or pro-Sox) bias. Calling another organization “scared” of his team. Generalizing about situations, as opposed to pinpointing a single player (accurately, as has been pointed out) doesn’t mean there is any more dignity in their comments. And there are far more of them.
    Theo made a stupid comment, seems like almost all of us SFs agree on this. He should keep his trap shut. But he has a long way to go to catch Hank on that front. Theo crapped something out, once. Hank has constant, chronic diarrhea, a condition that gets excused by a number of YFs, all because he hasn’t named a name? Come on.

    SF February 27, 2008, 1:28 pm
  • In fairness, they ranked Joba higher :)

    A YF February 27, 2008, 1:29 pm
  • The Steinbrothers have talked about teams and in generalities. No where have I condoned their behavior (even as I secretly like the arrogance).
    But talking about specific, and multiple, players while having exactly no way to back it up is beyond bush league. Theo could have just as easily spoken in generalities and we all would have know who he was talking about. He didn’t.
    Come on.
    The next time (which will be the first) the Steinbrothers call out Schilling for robbing the team or Manny for being a loafing sack I’ll readily condemn them.

    A YF February 27, 2008, 1:35 pm
  • Thanks for posting that bit about Buchholz, John. Personally I’d take either of them, because I think both will succeed in the long term.

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 1:39 pm
  • But talking about specific, and multiple, players while having exactly no way to back it up is beyond bush league.
    While I in no way condone Theo’s statements, it’s innaccurate of you to say that they are not “backed-up”, considering they are statements made in multiple papers and by teammates of Mussina.
    Plus, this is pretty much the first time in five years Theo has ever spoken to the press about something in a non-objective manner. Hank has done so more than that in the few months he’s been in charge.

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 1:43 pm
  • There is a new thread regarding the Clay Vs. Joba debate.

    John - YF February 27, 2008, 1:44 pm
  • By, “back up” I meant being able to get on the field and prove it with results. That’s how trash talk against players works.
    What the Steinbrothers say is much more common in sports (see also AL Davis, Mark Cuban, Larry L etc). What Theo said hardly ever happens from a GM. It’s one of those unspoken rules: Front office stiffs never talk shit against another team’s player because they simply don’t play the game. How the funk would Theo know what it’s like to fly around the world to throw a ball across a plate with precision and then fly back and do the same. He better hope Mr. Playthegametherightway sparkles like gold on both sides of the Pacific. God forbid he gets hurt. We wouldn’t want him complaining.

    A YF February 27, 2008, 1:54 pm
  • By, “back up” I meant being able to get on the field and prove it with results. That’s how trash talk against players works.
    That would make sense if Theo was a player, but since he’s not the only way he could “back-up his statements” is by being correct. Again I think it was completely irresponsible of Theo to say such things–and I hope he never does again–but they were certainly backed up by fact.

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 2:14 pm
  • How the funk would Theo know what it’s like to fly around the world to throw a ball across a plate with precision and then fly back and do the same.
    I think the main idea here is that you should do your job and shut the hell up about it, rather than complaining to everyone around you for three weeks. If you want to make comparisons, then here’s one: I’m sure there are aspects of Theo’s job (and all GM’s, for that matter) that are extremely difficult and stressful, but you never see any of them complaining about it.

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 2:16 pm
  • Oh really? Like not being able to put together an “uber-team”? That must have been some other GM whining.
    Player critique from FO stiffs are rare for a reason. He better pray his team with the right attitude performs.

    A YF February 27, 2008, 2:24 pm
  • I’m sorry A YF, can you explain what you’re talking about? Not trying to flame, I just genuinely have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 2:28 pm
  • Agreed with above. Theo did a bad job naming names and saying those players were ‘bitching’. In context you can hear that the radio guy brought up the word ‘bitching’ and Theo ran with it. He probably wouldn’t have put it that way otherwise, but still.

    Pat (SF) February 27, 2008, 2:30 pm
  • You said:
    “If you want to make comparisons, then here’s one: I’m sure there are aspects of Theo’s job (and all GM’s, for that matter) that are extremely difficult and stressful, but you never see any of them complaining about it.”
    I seem to remember a certain GM “bitching” about not being able to put together an uber-team. 200 million later…
    Front office types never criticize players for a very good reason – they don’t play the game. Plus, better for them to keep their own house clean. Theo’s team with the right attitude is one long losing streak away from plenty of “bitching” (see 2006), especially if their pitchers have a rough go of a difficult road trip to start the season.

    A YF February 27, 2008, 2:37 pm
  • A YF, can you be specific and give me a link to whoever said that? I seriously never heard anything about that, and if it’s true then you’re absolutely right.

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 2:41 pm
  • one long losing streak away from plenty of “bitching” (see 2006)
    A, enough with the baseless flamethrowing. Do you have any examples please of which Red Sox players were “bitching” in 2006, or quit on the team?
    If not, then stick to the facts or kindly butt out of these discussions. You are adding nothing here.

    Paul SF February 27, 2008, 2:45 pm
  • Maybe your friends here will help you out. I’m not going to keep pushing that angle. Suffice it to say, Theo has done his own “bitching” over the years.

    A YF February 27, 2008, 2:49 pm
  • “…It’s surprisingly out of character for Theo though…”
    uh, lockland, is this the same monkey suit wearing, hotel room trashing, theo, or a different one?…
    sf, to be fair, ‘a yf’ is merely pointing out that the steinmonsters, while annoying, have stopped short of openly criticizing individuals by name…while theo’s body of tacky work is smaller, this incident may be the trump card…

    dc February 27, 2008, 2:52 pm
  • hotel room trashing
    Perpetuating the myth.
    For the record, I also do not like, and am very surprised by, Epstein’s comments, regardless of their accuracy. It’s bad form to call out another team’s player by name and just makes yourself sound petty.
    Epstein and other members of the Sox’ FO have done their share of whining about the payroll gap between the Red Sox and Yankees, particularly after the Yankees acquired Abreu in a salary dump and the Sox stood pat in 2006. That talk, unsurprisingly, has died away since. Perhaps they realized how bad they made them look and decided to button down — which is, again, what makes Epstein’s recent comments so surprising.

    Paul SF February 27, 2008, 3:02 pm
  • “…the myth…”
    …are you sure?…

    dc February 27, 2008, 3:11 pm
  • Maybe your friends here will help you out
    A YF:
    I would just issue you a caution that the authors of this site are becoming increasingly frustrated with your rhetorical manner and frankly we aren’t going to stand for it without eventually considering action (as soon as we feel it is justifiable based on our Terms of Service), meaning deletion of incendiary comments and/or outright ban. There are six authors here, two are SFs and four are YFs, and you need to know that this is a universal sentiment from all six of us — we don’t want you to think this is rooted in any kind of prejudice based on who you root for, despite the fact that I, a Sox fan, am typing this comment. I suggest you go back and re-read the terms of service and the ground rules for this blog, why we started it, what kind of discourse we hope to encourage, etc.
    The shelf life of comments of the type that you have been issuing isn’t long, and it seems to us that you don’t really care about the animosity that you are provoking. This is a problem, one we hope you can resolve.

    SF February 27, 2008, 3:14 pm
  • Maybe your friends here will help you out. I’m not going to keep pushing that angle. Suffice it to say, Theo has done his own “bitching” over the years
    In other words, you’re making up an example?

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 3:18 pm
  • dc:
    Regarding the mythology of the Contreras chair-breaking incident, there was a (now-famous and popularly accepted) report that Epstein broke a chair when he found out that Contreras signed with the Yankees. But the sourcing of this story was never revealed, and Epstein and the Sox deny it ever happened. It’s essentially part of folklore now, so there’s nothing to be done about the story and it’s place in mainstream Sox/Yanks history, but there’s never been any proof that this, in fact, happened. Epstein can’t prove a negative, right? Bob Klapisch wrote this a few years ago:
    Upon learning of Contreras’ decision, Boston GM Theo Epstein reportedly broke a window and a door in the same Managua hotel. Team spokesman Kevin Shea denied the incident ever occurred. But, according to the New York Daily News, Epstein broke a chair during the winter meetings in Nashville after realizing free agent Edgardo Alfonzo had chosen the Giants over the Red Sox.
    Interestingly, if you search the Times archives, you come up with a very lengthy story in the aftermath of the Contreras signing by Murray Chass in which the Epstein “incident” isn’t mentioned at all, which I find a bit odd. The rumor is that this was a story fabricated/leaked by a rival front office to counter the “Evil Empire” crack by LL, which shows up fresh in this Chass report. Here is Chass’ story:

    SF February 27, 2008, 3:29 pm
  • Mussina’s was a big puss about the Japan trip but I am surprised Theo called him out as a Bad Apple.
    Although Mussina rolling his eyes and saying they won the division as a saving grace is pretty funny considering the fabulous 2004 post-season.

    no sleep til brooklyn SF February 27, 2008, 4:12 pm
  • I believe Seth Mnookin discusses this in “Feeding the Monster” also. At most, it was a chair. The book’s not with me, but if I remember, I’ll look it up tonight.

    Paul SF February 27, 2008, 4:12 pm
  • I can look it up tonight too. Haven’t touched that book in a year or so ;-) Great insight into the business side of baseball, though.

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 4:18 pm
  • SF February 27, 2008, 4:40 pm
  • now i’ve seen everything…sf using murray chass as an authoritative source…or “non-source” since he didn’t acknowledge the incident, or “non-incident”…did we imagine the monkey suit too?…
    according to seth’s report, it seems that the chair was already broken…ok…and apparently a rival front office started the rumor, and [my embellishment] perhaps planted the broken chair…a vast [evil empire] conspiracy?…the evil empire strikes back [or again]?…it seems to me that if a steinbrother allegedly broke a chair, or jeter allegedly used too much cologne, that would be worthy of a full-out post on yfsf, regardless of the facts, so mentioning theo’s encounter with the chair from time to time to make a point seems ok to me…just like the mitchell report, all it takes is a convincing rumor to make something true…
    a final note, in my not so humble opinion, you guys oughta lighten up on ‘a yf’…he’s not as bad as some we’ve had around here, including some of you [and even me] once in awhile…a contrarian, as long as he refrains from personal attacks on his fellow posters, can spice things up from time to time, and make us think…

    dc February 27, 2008, 6:31 pm
  • I’m disappointed in Theo’s comment. He generally shows better judgment.
    I expect over-the-top, albeit harmless, comments from the Steinbrothers, but this is out of character for Theo.
    And given that Theo has never publicly made a comment like this, I wonder if he did it with some sort of intent, a shot across the bow, as it were. He had to know it would get back to Mussina.
    That said, Mussina can’t exactly prove him wrong.
    And that, really, is all that needs to be said about that.
    Next topic.

    I'mBillMcNeal February 27, 2008, 7:03 pm
  • actually, dc, I was pointing to the Chass article not because I think of him as an authoratative source, but because the news of the chair-breaking incident wasn’t even included in the most detailed article about the Contreras signing, that which included a great amount of detail about what went on during the negotiations with the Yankees and Sox. It entered the mythology/history later on, mostly through Chass. So it’s very odd to me that it didn’t make his (quite thorough) story about the Contreras signing when it went down, but infiltrated his work (in unsubstantiated fashion) later on. If anything, my citing of Chass is meant to illustrate how the suspicions about the chairbreaking may have a decent amount of merit.
    As for the gorilla suit, there are photographs. And that was pretty damn funny, in my opinion, not churlish or insulting. Except maybe to someone like Dan Shaughnessy, but who cares then, right?

    SF February 28, 2008, 6:24 pm
  • RE: the “uberteam” comment – Theo did indeed make such a comment. I’m not sure I’d classify it as bitching, though. I don’t remember it that way. I do, however, remember finding the comment funny once the bid for Matsuzaka came out.
    Epstein responded to criticism that he was outmaneuvered by the Yankees when he failed to make a move at the July 31 trading deadline while New York picked up Bobby Abreu. Abreu was 7-for-13 in the first three games of the series.
    Boston could not afford the more than $27 million Abreu would have cost them in salary and luxury taxes in this season and next, Epstein said.
    “We have tremendous resources, don’t get me wrong. But that’s not something we can do,” Epstein said. “We have a plan. We’re in a position competing with less resources where we have to keep one eye on the future. We can’t do certain things.”
    The bigger budget allows the Yankees to assemble an “uber-team” — one in which star players are brought in to replace those that are injured.
    “That’s not our dynamic,” Epstein said. “We’re not going to have an uber-team every year. We’re going to try to build an organization that can try to sustain success over the long run.”
    So, if you are inclined to do so, you could see that as “bitching” by Theo about not being the Yankees. Alternatively, you can see it as a simple admission of fact: that the Sox, while very rich, are not quite as rich as NYY. I’m a Yankee fan myself, and I see it as a little bit of column A, and a little bit of column B.
    As for this Mussina incident, I think Theo was clearly out of line (even if he could be right). Seems like most Sox fans agree. I does seem out of character. I was similarly surpised when Cashman ripped Bernie this winter.

    Rob in CT February 28, 2008, 7:10 pm
  • “…Except maybe to someone like Dan Shaughnessy, but who cares then, right?…”
    so true, sf, so true

    dc February 28, 2008, 8:37 pm

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