It was one of the more bizarre days in the history of the Boston Red Sox today, with the threat of a boycott of the opening series in Japan next week coming out of nowhere. The fact that the team made this threat shows a lot about the character of this team and how much they genuinely care about each other.
They all voted unanimously to not play today against the Blue Jays and not go to Japan if the coaches and training staff was not compensated properly for their trip to Japan as well. Each player on both teams is getting $40,000 a player for going over there, but both the Red Sox and Oakland A's players were under the impression that their coaches and other personnel were be getting a stipend for the trip also. (Remember that MLB rules state that all players get a stipend on all road trips, and I believe coaches and trainers get one as well.)
It sounds like someone at MLB blew it. It also sounds as though the promise to compensate the others was made verbally and not written down. It took an hour of scrambling while the fans were waiting for the game at Ft. Myers to start against Toronto for the players to get assurances from MLB that their staffs were not being stiffed on this trip. (They don't make any kind of big money, and since the Sox would be away for 19 days starting tomorrow, it would be a financial burden for many of them to go to Japan.)
I briefly put on the "Mike and the Mad Dog" program on WFAN while the controversy was going on (why did I do that?), and Chris Russo, the putz that he is, basically said that since the Red Sox have so many stars making huge money, why couldn't they just give those stipends to the coaches and training staff. (That would be like me asking Russo to kick some money over to some of the lower paid staff at WFAN if he and Fatso were getting some kind of bonus, as they are the highest paid at the station.) And once again, Russo just doesn't get it. (Big surprise.) It has nothing to do with money. It has to do with broken promises made by MLB to ease the burden on the Red Sox making a 10,000 mile trip across the Pacific to make MLB more money. I'm sure if push came to shove the Sox players could have done that, but they shouldn't have been obligated to do something like that. It's up to MLB to make good on their promises and take care of "the little guys."
Jason Varitek may have put it best today when he said about the coaches and training staff, "They take care of us, so it's up to us to take care of them as well."
Orel Hershiser, the color analyst who did today's game on ESPN, said as a former player that he was very proud of what the Red Sox did.
I was REALLY proud to be a Red Sox fan today. They stood up to Major League Baseball and told them that the game is not just about the players, it's also about those who the average fan knows little or nothing about getting their fair share as well. This episode reflected greatly on the character of this club, and should bring them closer together as they begin the grind of a long baseball season.
Great job today, fellas. Have a great trip to Tokyo. And especially to the coaches and training staff.