Whatever the merits and meaning of the Red Sox latest meltdown -- as yet not fully determined -- it is already clear that the merry contretemps featuring the alleged "mutiny" of certain roster malcontents who've become disenchanted with manager Bobby Valentine should be seen as very much in this historically inscrutable team's richest tradition.
"Rebelling against the manager?" "Undermining authority?" "Ratting out one another?" "Stars brown-nosing the owner?" "Managers being devoured in the cross-currents of palace intrigues?"
Why, it's all there in black and white raging through the annals of your beloved Fenway boys of summer, old Sport. In the interests of time and space we'll confine this review to the "modern-era," beginning right after WW II.
But before getting into all that let me make this much clear right here and now. You will hear apologists and other doting lackeys of Red Sox Nation argue that this stuff happens on all teams. WRONG!
Yes, it happens -- at least every blue moon or so -- on every team in every sport. But not with the consistency that it happens here. Not with the levels of venom and malice achieved here. Not with the epic carnage that's been produced here. No formal records are kept on the subject. You won't find corroborative evidence in the Elias' data-base. But I'll vehemently argue no team in any game has a record for such colossal ragtime faintly comparable to what's been etched by your Boston Red Sox. PERIOD!
Here's the rundown:
1950 After Joe Cronin's ascension to the right hand of Owner Tom Yawkey, Yankees' legend Joe McCarthy takes command in 1948 and botches two golden pennant-opportunities before getting released from his suffering mid-way through the 1950 season. McCarthy is old, tired, and losing a terrible battle with alcohol in his time here but it's the grumbling of his players that finishes him off. On the train-ride home from New York -- after they'd blown the '49 pennant -- derisive players humiliate McCarthy. It would have been merciful if they'd fired him as he got off that train.
1954 Hired after the post-war flops to orchestrate a massive overhaul featuring kids from the farm system, Lou Boudreau is systematically undermined by veteran players enabled by Yawkey's front-office cronies. As an outsider, Boudreau probably never had the trust of Yawkey and Cronin. Moreover, they had a true-blue buddy waiting in the wings; Pinky Higgins.
Late '50s Yawkey's penchant for cronyism abets the problem which at its height produces wonderful farces like the front-office clashes of Higgins with Bucky Harris and Billy Jurgess. Inevitably the players and even some baseball writers get drawn into the circus. But aging resident demi-god Ted Williams remains aloof. Interestingly, Williams never allows his fondness for Yawkey to influence his loyalty to his managers.
1963 Evolving new-age star Carl Yastrzemski is suspected of undermining Manager Johnny Pesky with what are described as "back-stairs visits" to the owners' inner-sanctum. I've never been convinced young Yaz bore as much malice as was charged, while long suspecting the malevolent Higgins had much more to do with Pesky's managerial demise. But clearly old Johnny believed Carl was guilty. It's a burden Yaz still bears.
1966 Promising young team's developing stars (not including Yaz) rebel against Billy Herman's traditional ways. But that has nothing to do with Dick O'Connell's determination to dump Herman. Dick has a new guy in mind.
1969 That "new guy" -- Dick Williams -- runs afoul of his troops and their hyper-indulgent owner and gets fired only two years after orchestrating the greatest story in the team's history. Certainly, many players disliked Williams with some even having reasonable reasons. But Yawkey should never have listened to them. He was dead-wrong.
1976 Mere months after leading the lads to the allegedly greatest World Series of the age, Darrell Johnson loses his team's respect and gets canned. But it remains difficult to defend Darrell.
Late '70s Rebellious team clique called "the Buffalo Heads" led by class-clown, Bill "Spaceman" Lee, dedicate themselves to the destruction of Don Zimmer. They don't succeed, per se, but unquestionably grease the skids for Zimmie's eventual demise. They were dead-wrong.
1988 Just months after leading them to that World Series classic against the Mets, John McNamara gets de-legitimized by his players in ways eerily similar to Johnson's experience 12 years earlier. If neither was another Earl Weaver their tales were no less examples of the inmates taking over the asylum, once again.
1991 History repeats itself ingloriously. After two trips to the playoffs and the weaving of his celebrated ''magic'' Joe Morgan loses favor with Owner Jean Yawkey who chooses instead to listen to several of her most favorite players.
2001 Insurrection in the players' ranks inspired by but not confined to the infamous Carl Everett lays waste to Jimy Williams. Hilariously brief Joe Kerrigan era promptly follows.
2011 Terry Francona reign -- second longest in team's history -- ends in a monumental fiasco with players' quirks glibly tolerated by ownership and outright insubordination playing major roles.
2012 Actually, the Bobby Valentine era began to melt down even before it had really begun, which may be some sort of record.