For a lot of reasons, most of which I'll probably never get into here in great detail, I haven't had the time others have had to "process" the 2011 collapse. I haven't dug into all the nuances of beer and chicken, haven't debated at length about pitching stats and hurt ankles and weight gain.
I was watching in September, even if I wasn't writing, and the Red Sox collapse will forever be entwined with some of the worst moments of my life. In fact, it seemed at that time like the team fell apart in unison with everything else around me. So it's difficult for me, still, to take a step back and take an objective look at what happened.
That said, after reading and re-reading the raw transcripts of what was said by Josh Beckett and Jon Lester today in reference to the 2011 season; watching the videos of the interviews; following a thread on SoSH; and even reading a Dan Shaughnessy column, I realized that difficult though it may be, I need to take that step back, and separate my emotions about unrelated things from the memories of baseball in September if I want to write about this. Hell, if I want to continue to follow the sport at all.
When I do take that step back, I can see that first of all, this is as close to a dramatic mea culpa as we're going to get from the likes of Josh Beckett. Would it have been more satisfying if he had actually said the words, "I'm sorry," in just about any context? Absolutely. Will that ever happen in a million billion years? Probably not.
When I take that step back, I can admit that at first, it seemed from the transcripts that Jon Lester had much more of a gentlemanly presence about him than did Beckett, whose responses on the page are terse, at times monosyllabic. It's easy, knowing what we know about Beckett, to imagine it all coming out in a surly snarl or an eye-rolling deadpan. It's easy to read them in a defensive tone.
But if you watch the videos of both of them speaking (and there is more video "evidence" from Beckett's interview posted, for some reason, than Lester's), it's actually Beckett who comes off as the level-headed one, his tone even, unruffled -- not sullen, but matter-of-factly calm.
Meanwhile, there's a moment in Lester's interview where the lefty seems to bridle when he's asked a followup question about what it means to be a leader in the clubhouse, tugging at his shirt and tightening his jaw as he answers, "Just not doing it." ("It" meaning the 'beer and chicken' behavior.)
I'm not saying that to attack Lester, but to demonstrate that either pitcher's performance in front of the mics and tape recorders and cameras today could have been characterized as surly, depending on whether you went on tone or on word count. Or, both of them could be characterized as the best we're going to get, considering these are athletes and not politicians (in other words, Hunter, you're right).
When I take that step back, in other words, I realize it's all a tempest in a teapot. Or, to put it another way, February in Boston, where the baseball headlines, as yet, are few, and there's room for episodes like this to be picked apart and chewed on ad nauseam.
Here's hoping that by this time next month, both today's press conferences and the pain of last autumn will be just distant objects in the rear-view mirror.