Jon Lester: Beer and fried chicken didn't cause Boston's collapse
Boston pitcher Jon Lester admitted Monday that he occasionally has had beer and fried chicken in the Red Sox clubhouse. But he also said that it had nothing to do with the team's epic collapse in September and that he is the victim of a "witch hunt."
Lester made the rounds to several Boston media outlets on Monday to try to clear things up in the aftermath of a Boston Globe report last week that cited team sources who claimed that Lester and fellow Boston pitchers John Lackey and Josh Beckett drank beer, ate fried chicken and played video games in the clubhouse during games in which they did not pitch.
"Did we drink an occasional beer? Yes," he told ESPNBoston.com. "Did it affect our performance in September? No. This stuff has been going on long before September, and not only in this clubhouse, but 29 other clubhouses too. We ordered fried chicken maybe three times in six months. Other guys who were not playing that day would come in and have a bite to eat.
"But what people are trying to do is a witch hunt. They're looking for any reason to basically tear somebody's head off because we lost, and people right now are saying it's because we did this. I'm not shying away from saying I did it. I admit it, and I'm sure the other guys would say it too.
"But we lost because we did not play good baseball. We did not execute Boston Red Sox good baseball."
Fair enough. But maybe the players on the field would have executed Boston Red Sox better baseball in September if all of their teammates were in the dugout offering their support. Instead of an occasional "ninth-inning rally beer" — which is how Lester described the trio's occasional alcoholic consumption — how about a ninth-inning rally cheer?
Lester said that such clubhouse behavior has been part of baseball "for 100 years." But what the Red Sox were going through late in the season isn't something that happens all the time — in fact, no team had ever had a nine-game lead in September and not made the playoffs.
"I'm not making excuses for what we did. I'm owning up to what I did," Lester said. "But I can honestly tell you that I was prepared every five days — and so were the other guys — to go out and perform. We were physically prepared to perform."
But aren't they still members of the team the other four days?
— Chuck Schilken
Photo: Jon Lester. Credit: Fred Thornhill / Reuters