In a story that came out in last week’s Boston Globe, Boston Red Sox pitcher John Lester was named, among other starting pitchers, as participating clubhouse activities during the games when they were not pitching; activities like: drinking beer, playing video games, and indulging in some fried chicken.  Recently, Lester has been saying that the report blew things out of proportion, saying that while they did occasionally drink beer, they rarely played video games and only ordered the take-out chicken three times in six months.  Regardless of the frequency of these events, the larger problem is the fact that it is being discussed at all.

Between the three starting pitcher named (Lester, Lackey and Beckett), we’re looking at about $38 million of Boston’s $160 million payroll.  Three guys that take up nearly a quarter of the team’s pay should be setting an example for the rest of the team.  Now, is that fair?  No, but welcome to the real world, where things are rarely fair.

If any other person were to have a few beers during the course of his/her workday, it would not be unreasonable to expect that person to get fired.  And yet, these professional athletes feel like it’s not that big of a deal for them to be in the clubhouse during a game, taking part in these activities.  What this reveals is a ridiculous sense of entitlement.

If you are being paid a significant amount of money as a baseball player, then you have more responsibility, not less.  You don’t get to do whatever you want; you have to set an example of what it means to be a good teammate and support the guys that are out on the field.  Would it have made a difference?  Probably not, but that’s not the point.

Now, I can hear the objections: they weren’t pitching that day; they weren’t going to go on the field at all; they had no effect on what happened on the field.  I agree.  However, again, that’s not the point.  It betrays a sense of entitlement that these guys can do whatever they want and get away with it.

Down the stretch, as the Red Sox were faltering, I (among others) thought that they would be able to turn it around, and that they would be very dangerous in the playoffs.  However, the way they played (especially compared to the Rays, who eventually caught and passed them) was with the same attitude.  You got the sense that it didn’t really matter that they lost that game, because they could just turn it on the next night and win.  But they couldn’t.

In baseball, it really is an accomplishment to get into the playoffs.  Only four teams from each league make the cut; that’s it – 8 teams in all of major league baseball make the playoffs.  It isn’t the NBA where 16 teams make it in.  It isn’t even the NFL where 12 teams are playoff bound.  If you make the playoffs, you earn it in baseball.  However, it seemed as though the Red Sox just expected their playoff spot to be handed to them, but they didn’t earn it, so they didn’t make it.

It’s easy to point the finger at all kinds of issues down the stretch for the Red Sox.  In fact, that’s exactly what the Boston Globe was trying to do in it’s article.  Everything from Francona to Epstein to beer-drinking to lack of leadership was brought up in the article.  But the underlying issue, the issue that really comes to the forefront as I look at the article and the response, is this sense of entitlement.

Nobody owes us anything in this life, especially not professional athletes.  You go out there, and you compete on a daily basis.  If you deserve to be at the top of the game, then you will earn it, but nobody is going to give it to you.

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