Red Sox

Drellich: Like it or not, Pedroia has been inaugurated Red Sox spokesman

Drellich: Like it or not, Pedroia has been inaugurated Red Sox spokesman

BOSTON — It's not on them. It's on him. 

Dustin Pedroia’s pre-game media session Friday was an inauguration speech for positions he never really wanted: Defuser. Spokesman.

He needs to embrace those now, for the good of his teammates and a clubhouse he has declared his. He seems on his way.

Let’s get one caveat out of the way before we explore the second baseman’s soapbox: little else matters if the Red Sox don’t start hitting. 

Their lack of power is sapping the enjoyment out of watching games and has to be draining to their pitchers, who are being hung out to dry near daily. It’s the looped soundtrack of a slow slide into second place, or worse.

But let’s assume, though, the Sox will start to hit like something other than a stereotypical last-place team in the National League West. It’s still worth playing a game of, "Whose Clubhouse Is this Any Way?"

Pedroia has long been a leader by example. The mettle he showed Friday was different, more forward-facing. He set the record straight and declared himself the point man.

Pedroia recently acquired the corner locker at the far side of the home clubhouse, the one Pablo Sandoval used to occupy. The media gathered there for the first significant comments from anyone on the club about the David Price-Dennis Eckersley airplane fiesta.

“We’re moving past this,” Pedroia said. “This was a month ago. We all love each other. We’re in here together. Nothing is going to divide this team. For whatever people say from the outside: ‘We don’t have a leader.’ I’m standing right here. I’ve been here for a long time.”

“We’re in first place. That’s it. Write what you guys want. Here I am. See anybody else standing here doing this? Do you? Nope. That’s a fact. There’s your source. From the mouth.”

Better late than never.

When he referred to himself as a “source,” Pedroia was seemingly making a reference to the sourced reports from this week that he was clapping when Eckersley was verbally attacked by Price. 

Pedroia said he expects Price will speak to Eckersley, but said Price has yet to have a chance.

That’s fishy, considering as Pedroia himself noted, it’s been about a month since the incident. But the fact that Pedroia did address the matter with the player and the public as well is net-positive progress.

Pedroia’s always been a spunky, sarcastic character. He can come off as something of a jerk, too. He has bravado. But he doesn’t have the programming that naturally makes him want to be the go-to-guy to answer questions.

Perhaps this episode showed Pedroia the problem that arises when that role is left ambiguous. A controversy can grow like a wildfire in this media and fan environment if explanations aren't given. He’s seen those dust-ups before, playing here for a decade. But he’s rarely had to bat them down.

Pedroia's stand-up attitude Friday was a reminder of what had not done previously this season, and what needs to continue. 

Someone needs to set the record straight on what’s going on, even if behind the scenes, the clubhouse is in good order without others knowing — even if Pedroia doesn't think something's worth addressing.

The distraction created by something that morphs and evolves in the public without proper information probably isn’t worth it.

“Is there usually this many of you guys in here? Come on,” Pedroia said when asked about the distraction of the Eckersely-Price confab. “We want to focus on our job and winning baseball games. That’s what we’re here to try to do. I wish you guys were asking me how we’re going to try to beat the Royals [Friday] instead of talking about this. I enjoy talking about that more, obviously.”

More often, now, Pedroia has to take on the unenjoyable. He’ll make his clubhouse better for it.

Judge tosses suit against MLB for sign-stealing scheme, but rips Red Sox and Astros

Judge tosses suit against MLB for sign-stealing scheme, but rips Red Sox and Astros

The lawsuit against Major League Baseball filed by daily fantasy game players, who claimed to be defrauded by the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, has been dismissed, but not without harsh criticism of the teams by a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in his ruling blasted the Red Sox and Astros for "shamelessly" breaking both baseball's rules and "the hearts of all true baseball fans."

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In throwing out the suit brought by five daily fantasy players, Rakoff invoked the New England Patriots "Spygate" scandal from 2007, agreeing with MLB lawyers' contention that rulings in similar suits brought by fans against the NFL after the Patriots were caught illegally taping opponents' defensive signals had set a legal precedent for this suit to be dismissed. 

While the suit charged that the Red Sox and Astros had engaged in consumer fraud that created "corrupt" and "dishonest" fantasy contest for companies such as Draft Kings, Rakoff agreed with previous decisions in the NFL cases that ruled fans should know teams will look for any advantage - even "foul deeds" - to try and win.

From Rakoff's ruling: 

[D]id the initial efforts of those teams, and supposedly of Major League Baseball itself, to conceal these foul deeds from the simple sports bettors who wagered on fantasy baseball create a cognizable legal claim? On the allegations here made, the answer is no.

The Astros' sign-stealing scheme led MLB to fine the team $5 million and the one-year suspensions and subsequent firings of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. The Red Sox then parted ways with manager Alex Cora, who, according to MLB's findings, was the mastermind of the scheme as Houston's bench coach in 2017. 

That team won the World Series, as did the 2018 Red Sox, who are accused of using a similar system to steal signs under Cora.

MLB has yet to release a report on the Red Sox allegations. Commissioner Rob Manfred said it has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic but will be released before MLB begins its 2020 season. In comments last month in court an MLB lawyer seem to imply the Red Sox are aware of Manfred's findings and that they disagree with them.



Say hello to Arizona Red Sox? How MLB's Cactus League could save 2020 season

Say hello to Arizona Red Sox? How MLB's Cactus League could save 2020 season

Nothing says Red Sox home game like iguanas, scorpions, and cacti, but these are desperate times.

Barring millions of instant tests or a miracle cure, COVID-19 will just be a fact of our pent-up, penned-in lives for the foreseeable future.

This makes embarking on the baseball season problematic, since one infection would theoretically sideline an entire team for two weeks, and good luck staying virus-free while flying all over the country. Visiting hot spots would not only increase a player's risk of illness, it would also up the odds of one becoming a vector himself, which is bad for the brand, not to mention public health.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

But what if baseball could maintain some control over its players' whereabouts while limiting travel to a fleet of buses? Could a season happen under these tightly managed circumstances? And if so, where?

It may be a long shot, but the more one considers the alternatives, the more it sounds like the best hope we've got is for MLB to hold its entire season in Arizona.

The logistics are nightmarish regardless, but in a situation this unprecedented, the fewer variables the better. And MLB won't find a higher concentration of acceptable facilities than in the 48th state.

The Cactus League features 10 ballparks that host 15 teams in two months of spring training. Unlike the far-flung Grapefruit League, with teams scattered across Florida's east and west coasts, the Arizona sites are compact.

Tomase: Hindsight 2020 - remember when the Red Sox built around the wrong All-Star?

Parks stretch from Mesa in the southeast to Surprise in the northwest, a drive of only 45 minutes. Everything else lies in between, a constellation of moons tightly orbiting Phoenix.

Decamping to the desert for the duration would eliminate air travel and give the league a chance to closely monitor its players. The challenge is Herculean: hosting roughly 800 players, plus at least that many coaches, staff, families, umpires, and broadcasters without anyone contracting the world's most contagious virus, against which we possess zero natural immunity.

Players would need to be quarantined in league-controlled hotels, tested constantly, and shuttled to and from the park. For such a plan to work, they'd have to sacrifice their most basic freedoms of movement, because a single failed test would grind the season to a halt while at least one team spends two weeks in isolation, potentially triggering a cascade of shutdowns, too (the mere possibility of which prompted the NBA to suspend its season, after all).

Convincing the union to sign off on such draconian restrictions won't be easy, but the alternative may very well be no baseball.

The games would be made-for-TV events without fans. If each ballpark hosted one or two games a day, a regular schedule could be played.

The challenges would be enormous. Do three teams share one clubhouse? Could ballpark and hotel staff be expected to live in isolation as well to avoid infection? How long could players live like prisoners? Will testing capacity ramp up enough to accommodate an entire league? Are the results even reliable? And how would teams keep their facilities germ-free if they're in use all day?

Politics matter, too. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey only belatedly ordered a stay-at-home order on Monday, and it has drawn criticism from the state's mayors as one of America's weakest, with exceptions for "essential" services like golf courses, nail salons, and hotels. If Arizona experiences an outbreak, then this little thought experiment dies on the vine. The same goes for extending the order past its current April 30 expiration and into the summer.

But we're here to ponder best-case scenarios, not fill your heads with more unrelenting negativity. And though the task would be monumental, if there's to be a baseball season, our best bet might be to play it in the desert.