Francona Says New No-Booze Policy In Red Sox Clubhouse Is PR Move

Feb 27, 2012

Terry Francona, who managed the Boston Red Sox for eight seasons and led the team to two World Series, says the teams' new ban on booze could backfire.

"I think it's a PR move," Francona told ESPN. "I think if a guy wants a beer, he can probably get one. You know, it's kind of the old rule ... If your coach in football says no hard liquor on the plane — I mean, you serve beer and wine — somebody's going to sneak liquor on the plane.

"If you furnish a little bit, it almost keeps it to a minimum," said Francona. "I don't think it's a surprise that they put this in effect, or the fact they announced it. It's probably more of a PR move just because, you know, the Red Sox (took) such a beating at the end of the year."

Over the weekend, the club's new manager Bobby Valentine said he was banning alcohol in the club house and on the last flight of every road trip. The AP gives us a bit of background:

"Last season, the Red Sox went 7-20 in September and allowed their nine-game lead in the AL East to swirl down the drain. After manager Terry Francona's team missed the playoffs, the Boston Globe reported that starting pitchers including Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester spent some of their off-days drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games.

"Both Beckett and Lester said last week that mistakes were made last season and both vowed it wouldn't happen again.

"Valentine has made sure of that. Ever since taking over for Francona ... Valentine has stressed personal responsibility and accountability with his players."

The ban was also derided by Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe.

"What's next? No Swan Boats in the Public Garden? No Pops on the Esplanade on the Fourth of July? No L Street Brownies swimming in the ocean on New Year's Day?," Shaughnessy writes.

And he brings up baseball lore:

"Do we need to mention a young southpaw from Baltimore named George Herman Ruth? The Babe grew up in a bar and roamed the Back Bay, swilling beer in his Boston years. The Sox won three World Series with the Babe burping between innings."

Joe Maddon, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' manager, had similar thoughts.

"I've said it a hundred times," he told The Tampa Bay Times. "For me at the end of the day, I'd much prefer our players making good decisions, and if you're of legal age, and the game is over, and you've sweated and lost a bunch of pounds and you want to sit down and have a beer, I see nothing wrong with that."

But ESPN reports that Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz backed his manager.

"We're not here to drink," Ortiz said. "We're here to play baseball. It ain't a bar."

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