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The Boston Red Sox Home Locker Room Powered by Gatorade

By Dave Jordan ~ February 27th, 2012. Filed under: Outside the Apple.

If you logged onto ESPN.COM this weekend to read the story about Bobby Valentine banning beer in the locker room, you were greeted at the top of the page with a link to a site sponsored by Budweiser.  The story writes itself, but I’ll take a stab at the bigger picture.

If you’re a Major League Baseball Player in 2012, you’re probably making at least $750k.  You’re probably 27, 28 years old.  You’re probably single. “Time of your life, kid”, as the great actor Joe Pantoliano said a couple times in the forgotten ‘80’s classic “Risky Business.” If you play for the Boston Red Sox, you’re in the town where everyone knows your name.  Adored, worshipped.  The universe is your oyster, right?

Not so fast.

Do you own the town or is it the other way around?

If you’re Big Papi, do you have any chance of hitting the choice bars and clubs across the street behind the ballpark on Lansdowne?  Does Big Papi have any shot at all of bowling a few frames at Lucky Strike Boston (the old Jillian’s) with some buddies?  Not a chance.  You enter this huge, open-air enclave of pretty waitresses, fine leather chairs, aspiring sports guys, off-hours stock traders looking for something funny, cool and random to share with their colleagues down in New York.  The minute he rolls a gutter ball, that snapshot will hit the Internet faster than you can say KINGPIN.

Any one of these folks has a camera phone locked and loaded, ready to shoot as soon as even the 25th man on the roster enters and orders anything harder than a domestic draft (“Sully, I just stood next to Nick Punto at the bar – he downed two Jamesons like they were Vitamin Water – no wonder he went 0-for-5 with an error – I’ll shoot ya the pic!  NICE!”)

That’s their life in the world where everyone knows their name.  “Yo brah, Ellsbury was shooting some stick at the table next to mine – totally sucks at pool – I’ll send ya the pic! HUZZAH!” Forget about going to Cheers (the old Bull & Finch) – couple dozen tourists still haunt the place every day expecting to see Carl Yastrzemski, Pudge Fisk or some legendary Sawx hero enter the pub at any time.

It’s guerrilla warfare of public relations for these men.  Every day.  No meal is uninterrupted; no discussion in a watering hole is without a fan cameo, no shoulder untapped while grabbing a tasty sandi in a North End Italian sub shop.

And this is all ok.

This is the deal.  You sign on the line that is dotted, you receive more money than you ever dreamed of, a lifetime of financial wealth and security if you find the right business manager, and sometimes you can play your way out of bad investments if you hang around long enough, the way Nolan Ryan did with the fallout of the oil boom in the early 1980’s.  And you know all this.  When you sign away likeness rights, you been told many times over that you’re forfeiting like-us rights as well.

So, you can’t drink in bars, because the next aspiring journalist for Deadspin is waiting to nail you.  Can’t drink in the top 4-5-star restaurants because some portfolio manager from Greenwich, Ct. in town for the night will pester you for an autograph for his son and then believe for the rest of his life (and tell everyone he ever meets) that you’re a total tool when you refuse his request, claiming you just want to finish your Chilean Sea Bass.  So what’s left?  Do you really want your players drinking alone in their apartments?   Come to think of it, I don’t know anyone not named George Thorogood who enjoys drinking alone.  In all seriousness, do you really want them drinking in nightclubs after games, with the virtual P.R. target on their back?

This clubhouse ban on alcohol instituted by new BoSox skipper Bobby Valentine is silly, merely a puff-chesting, “There’s a new-sheriff-in-town” kind of move by Bobby V; a man long known for this type of power play.  A worthless gesture to a fan base that is one thousand times more savvy and informed from 30,20, even ten years ago.

“We’re not here to drink,” said David Ortiz, the only player to speak up during the team meeting. “We’re here to play baseball. This ain’t no bar. This is an organization, a place that has a lot of athleticism, and alcohol has nothing to do with that. We’ve got alcohol in our houses and if you want to drink, drink at home.”

From someone that is fascinated by management/corporate dynamics in all walks of business, I don’t begrudge Papi for speaking up in defense of Valentine.  This is what team leaders do – it’s nice to see, actually.

I just don’t agree with it.  The clubhouse is the only place these 25 men and team staff have to be themselves with their colleagues.  It’s a clubhouse, it’s a place for them to chill before and after games, to decompress in private (outside of the required media Q&As), after a session of assorted adulation and possibly vulgar feedback of the kitchen sink variety in some cases.  Don’t get me wrong, should booze be banned before games? Absolutely.   Anyone deciding to have a beer at 11 AM either has a serious problem or is seriously cool, though in the case of the latter you most likely shouldn’t be anywhere near bats and pitching machines.

I have an idea.  Why don’t we just stop calling this area the clubhouse, because clubhouses are supposed to be awesome.  Let’s re-name them something along the lines of THE BOSTON RED SOX HOME LOCKER ROOM POWERED BY GATORADE.

Does that work?

Dave Jordan created THE TOPPS TRADED 1975 PROJECT (http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Topps-Traded-1975-Project/120650784687049), one of the first virtual sets of Baseball Cards created exclusively for the Internet. His upcoming venture, www.instreamsports.com, is due in April 2012.
Dave Jordan
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1 Response to The Boston Red Sox Home Locker Room Powered by Gatorade

  1. Chuck Johnson

    There are areas in the “clubhouse” which are off-limits to non-team personnel..training room, weight room, lounge areas, etc.

    Basically what the Red Sox and the other 18 ML teams with a clubhouse drinking ban have done is eliminate alcohol from “public” areas.

    An hour after the game, when Ken Rosenthal and Bob Ryan and the other media are running around getting their stories, the clubhouse will resemble Prohibition. Two hours after the game, when everyone has gone, Big Papi will be sitting in front of his locker pounding a few brewskies just like he’s always done.

    Players will still have their postgame beers, all that’s changed is no one will see them.

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