I understand Adrian Gonzalez’s pain. He participated in one of the most disastrous and frustrating years of baseball the Red Sox have played in decades ... yes, decades!
Including last September, the Red Sox, with Gonzalez wearing its uniform, finished a Seattle Mariners-esque 66-87.
With the new baseball junkie batting third in the Red Sox lineup, it was supposed to be the polar opposite, as in the Best Team Ever, according to the front page of one Boston newspaper last year.
For the record, Gonzalez wanted out of San Diego because they couldn’t afford him and his $150 million-plus demands.
In a Los Angeles Times story, Gonzalez wasn’t kind to the Boston media and Red Sox Nation.
“They didn’t like that I was a calm person. I won’t throw my helmet, I won’t scream, I won’t use bad words if I strike out,” said Gonzalez. “That’s what they want over there.”
I don’t know if that’s totally true ... the part about he won’t use “bad words” in times of strife. He was ejected from a game two weeks ago for complaining about a quick-pitch saying to the ump, “Mike, you stink!”
Gonzalez, unfortunately, has it all wrong. While I agree, we seem to appreciate the angry helmet-tossers (i.e. Kevin Youkilis) more than the I’ll-get ‘em-next time guys (i.e. J.D. Drews), New England wants their best of the best to produce.
And Gonzalez produced. Sort of.
His numbers in 2011 were .338, 27 homers and 117 RBI. Before heading west to L.A. on Saturday, those numbers were .300, 15 and 86 in 2012.
Over the last year, when the Red Sox debacle began last September, Gonzalez’s numbers drop to .305, 19 and 100. Not bad, but not really the stuff of $23 million a year.
Gonzalez was not the problem with the Red Sox — the biggest pieces of blame pie go to Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. But he was not part of the solution either.
He just didn’t have it in him to carry a team, which is why the Red Sox gave up two of their top prospects. Gonzalez didn’t rise to the occasion enough.
The pressure appeared to have gotten to Gonzalez, something he swore would never happen when I spoke to him on opening day at Fenway Park in 2011.
“I smile because it’s fun. This isn’t pressure,” said Gonzalez. “When you leave everything in God’s hands, there is no pressure. You go 0 for 4 sometimes and you go 4 for 4 sometimes. That’s baseball. And for me, baseball will always be fun.”
When word started leaking out that he was a leader of unhappy veterans who whined to ownership about manager Bobby Valentine’s penchant for embarrassing players, Gonzalez lost a little respect from millions of people outside of the Red Sox clubhouse.
There is nothing wrong with Gonzalez telling the truth, that Boston and the Red Sox were not his thing, that we are too crazy and too passionate about baseball. He wouldn’t be the first or last guy that succumbed to those demands.
Gonzalez was not a bad guy. Word is he did more than his fair share of charity work, a lot of it unpublicized. According to a guy I know at Eastern Bank, which Gonzalez represented, he couldn’t have been easier to deal with.
But, unfortunately, that’s not what he was paid to do around here. But the bottom line is he wasn’t as good as we thought he was and he didn’t like it here.
That’s the truth.