Red Sox

McAdam: Sox need a major cleanup

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McAdam: Sox need a major cleanup

What's next?

What else is going to come from the steaming pile that was the 2011 Red Sox season?

What new, sordid tale remains to be told? What tawdry confession is on the on-deck circle?

First, it was beer being consumed in the clubhouse. Then, it was a beer-fried chicken-video game festival in the clubhouse. Now comes a report that three pitchers were drinking beer in the dugout during games.

In a statement released by the team late Tuesday night, all three of the accused players -- starting pitchers Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester -- categorically denied the charges, as did former manager Terry Francona.

Now, we're into "he said, she said" territory.

But the fact remains: After all that we've learned in the aftermath of the season, the report seemed, at the very least, plausible.

In other words, even if it's not true, as Lackey, Beckett and Lester maintained, it could have been. We've been conditioned to believe just about anything about these Red Sox.

Drinking in the dugout might have seemed like it crossed the line. But then again, the 2011 Red Sox crossed that line some time ago.

Consider Francona the lucky one. He may be unemployed for the moment and his reputation slimed by some anonymous cowards. But at least he doesn't have to go back and deal with this bunch.

Missing the playoffs with a 7-20 September was just the start, apparently. The Red Sox could have recovered from that. They had a brutal month on the field and their starting rotation failed them miserably. They became a punch line with their final-month freefall.

But that was nothing compared to the revelations that have come since the end of the season.

The Red Sox have gone beyond punchline and headed directly for laughing stock. For the rest of the offseason, they'll be proper fodder for Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and David Letterman.

Guaranteed, someone will take footage from the World Series winners' clubhouse, with champagne flowing and beer pouring and identify it as the home clubhouse at Fenway during a July game.

In the immediate aftermath of Francona's departure, team officials -- both publicly and off-the-record -- insisted that things weren't as bad as they seemed.

Larry Lucchino told the New York Daily News: "I agree we need to restore some order and rules enforcement in the clubhouse and the new manager will do that. That said, I think the stories have been blown out of proportion by the epic collapse. We have a core of really good, talented, charismatic players."

Blown out of proportion? Wonder if Lucchino would like that one back?

Another Red Sox official admonished me for a column two weeks ago in which I suggested that the final month of this season was every bit as bad the final month of 2001.

In hindsight, of course, that person was correct. This year was much, much worse. It's going to take some time is latest bit of nausea-inducing news from Fenway.

The reclamation project needs to begin soon. Incoming GM Ben Cherington -- and how's this for a cleanup job on Day 1? -- must begin exploring dealing each one of his top three starting pitchers.

Other than Lester, this will not be easy. Lackey has more than 45 million remaining over three years and next-to-no value, after coming off what was, quite literally, the worst season ever for a Red Sox starter. Beckett has 10-5 rights -- 10 years in the majors, the last five with the same team -- giving him the ability to refuse a trade.

Something tells me that's not going to be much of a hurdle now.

As presently constituted, the Red Sox roster is toxic. Laughed at around the country and throughout baseball, they are positively reviled in their own region.

I've lost track of the number of people who have used the word "disgusted" in recent days and weeks about the 2011 Red Sox. And that was before the latest bombshell. Imagine their revulsion now.

Choking, fans can deal with. But that was when no one questioned the players' sobriety.

In addition to a roster makeover, there's plenty of other work to be done this winter.

If ownership has any sense of propriety, they won't dare introduce a price increase in tickets. In fact, a reduction -- the first in, what, decades? -- would be in order. For that matter, how about a modest refund to season-ticket holders who paid full price this past season for less than full effort from the players?

No more, please, about the consecutive-game sellout streak, since that's about to come to an inglorious end anyway, on, say, the fifth or sixth home game next April.

No more reminders that fans are inhabiting "America's Most Beloved Ballpark," and other similar sticky Valentines.

And please, no more institutional unhealthy obsession with the Yankees and repeated vows to outdo them.

The cleanup has to start at the top. It's time for Lucchino, John Henry and Tom Werner to revoke the fraternity charter, and put the players -- like the residents of Delta House -- and themselves on double-secret probation and go about the business of turning this bad joke back into a proud franchise.

NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

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NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

Fueled by a home run trilogy from their emotional utilityman, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in a record seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 rout in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping these Dodgers after they led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and co-NLCS MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor leading a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to Los Angeles' last championship in 1988.

"Every night it is a different guy," Turner said, "and this is one of the most unbelievable teams I've ever been a part of."

Kershaw will be on the mound again when the Dodgers host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the ALCS at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

Los Angeles made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short of its 22nd pennant each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when his team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

The ace left-hander was just OK during his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' offense picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts and improved to 6-7 in the playoffs - matching Burt Hooton's club record for postseason wins.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series? I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted."

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on . The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitors' dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

On the field, manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told the iconic skipper the win was for him.

"I bleed Dodger blue just like you," Roberts said. "Thank you, Tommy."

Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second for his first career playoff homer and then a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. Hernandez added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.

The 26-year-old Hernandez became the fourth player with a three-homer game in a league championship series, joining Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS), George Brett (1978 ALCS) and Adam Kennedy (2002 ALCS). Hernandez's seven RBIs tied a postseason record shared by four other players who all did it in a Division Series.

Troy O'Leary was the previous player to have seven RBIs in a playoff game, for Boston at Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS.

It was a stunning display for a player with 28 career homers who remains concerned about his native Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a devastating hurricane. He delivered a historic performance in front of his father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., who was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia in December 2015, but got word last November that he was in remission.

"For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special," said Hernandez, who also goes by Kik�. "My body's here, but my mind's kind of back home. It's hard being away from home with what's going on.

"All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug."

Kris Bryant homered for Chicago, but the NL Central champions finished with just four hits in another tough night at the plate. Each of their eight runs in the NLCS came via the long ball, and they batted just .156 for the series with 53 strikeouts.

Long playoff runs in each of the last two years and a grueling five-game Division Series against Washington seemed to sap Chicago of some energy, and its pitching faltered against sweet-swinging Los Angeles. Jose Quintana was pulled in the third inning of the final game, and the Cubs never recovered.

"They executed their plan," Bryant said. "They pitched great and the bullpen was lights out. That makes for a tough time scoring runs."

Turner and Taylor helped put it away for Los Angeles, contributing to a 16-hit outburst while closing out a pair of impressive performances.

Turner singled home Taylor in the Dodgers' five-run third, giving him seven RBIs in the series and 24 throughout his postseason career. Taylor finished with two hits and scored two runs as the Dodgers, who have won five straight NL West titles, improved to 7-1 in this postseason.

Taylor's versatility helped Los Angeles cover for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the series with a back injury, but is expected to return in the next round. Coming off a breakout season, the 27-year-old Taylor hit .316 with two homers and scored five times against the Cubs.

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of this and be with these guys," Taylor said. "It's been an unbelievable year, and I'm just super excited."

OUT WITH A BANG

Hernandez joined Kennedy (2002), Adrian Beltre (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977 vs. the Dodgers) and Babe Ruth (1928) as players to hit three home runs in a postseason series clincher.

LIGHTS OUT

Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

BOSTON — As soon as the American League Championship Series ends, the Red Sox could make a move for their manager.

Industry sources continue to expect Astros bench coach Alex Cora will be the Sox’ pick. No offer had been officially made as of midday Wednesday, one source close to the situation said. But the belief is such an offer waits out of respect to the Astros-Yankees ALCS that can end no later than Saturday if the series goes a full seven games. 

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“Not a doubt it is him,” the source said.

Sunday and Monday would both be off days ahead of the Tuesday night start of the World Series. That leads to the potential for at least a Red Sox announcement of Cora, if not a press conference, before the Fall Classic begins. (If the Astros advance to the World Series, it may be harder to have Cora in Boston for any length of time.)

All those who know Cora praise his ability to connect with players. The former Red Sox infielder is good friends with Dustin Pedroia. Cora’s previous knowledge of the Boston market works in his favor, as well, as does his mettle handling the media. Some question his readiness as a first-time manager, considering he would be taking over a team with great win-now expectations and complicated clubhouse dynamics.

Nothing takes the place of experience and there is such a thing as being too close to players. Ultimately, if the Sox do land Cora, 41, they would be adding the hottest up-and-coming managerial prospect who’s available on the market. The everybody-wants-him reputation could give Cora added cachet with players and certainly becomes a public-relations win for those fans following the search.

The Sox interviewed Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday. Gardenhire was the third candidate the Sox talked to and could well be the last. Cora met with the Sox on Sunday, followed by Brad Ausmus on Monday.