Photo by Aunti Juli

Photo by Aunti Juli

We’ve reached a point in the season that Red Sox Nation should be all to familiar with in recent years. The point where on-field play is an afterthought, and the fans and media have grown tired of complaining about the players, coaches, and front office. I’m talking, of course, about the point of the season where a non-story becomes front page news.

In the past we’ve seen stories such as the “chicken and beer” scandal trump the epic team implosion at the tail end of the 2011 season. A year later, in the midst of the Bobby Valentine era, we saw a national baseball writer act under the guise of a Boston beat reporter, and subsequently use his position to turn the Red Sox into a circus.

While ridiculous, you have to admit that the aforementioned non-stories were complex enough to make a try and make a big deal about. This season, however, Boston may have hit the “rock bottom” of overblown stories.

The tale in question here involves Pablo Sandoval using the popular photo sharing app, Instagram, during Wednesday night’s game in Atlanta. Boston Barstool blogger Jared Carrabis caught the Kung-Fu Panda doling out photo likes at approximately 9:20pm. The screen grab of Sandoval’s activity taken by Carrabis was later tweeted out to his 17,500 followers, which includes some of Boston’s most notable media members. Subsequently, the picture was picked up by media outlets and quickly became the talk of the town.

Jared is a great dude and a hell of a blogger, so I don’t think he was trying to blow this thing up. In fact, he even prefaced the picture-attached tweet by saying “…not to blow up the dude’s spot…”. My feeling is that he rightfully thought it was strange that Sandoval was trying to mac on some chicks while sitting in the dugout. There’s nothing wrong with what Carrabis did. You obviously don’t expect a professional athlete to be using their phone, much less perusing Instagram, during a game. At the same time you can assume that Sandoval using his phone isn’t really enough to question his effort as a ball player.

I think the people that are beating this “story” into the ground forget how much different baseball is from every other major sport. I mean, baseball doesn’t just have a bench, they have a half buried, three quarter enclosed, box complete with a cushioned bench and all the sunflower seeds you can eat. If that wasn’t enough there’s a hallway literally connecting the dugout to a clubhouse that (usually) rivals most 5-star hotel rooms. Players that are playing in the game spend half the game hanging out in this glorified frat house setting, where their teammates that aren’t involved in the contest are constantly goofing off. Consider the environment, accommodations, and the fact that it takes 2 seconds to “like” a photo on Instagram and you’ll realize how dumb this story is.

We’d all like to believe that each players is sitting on the bench, wide-eyed, watching every play and jotting down notes in a spiral notebook a la Curt Schilling, but that’s just not the case. Sandoval went 2-for-4 last night, and is hitting .410/.410/.667 over the last two weeks, so calling his effort into question for this is quickly quelled by his performance.

As former Red Sox great Kevin Millar once said, “We’re not athletes, we’re baseball players.”

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