Posted by: Nate | March 19, 2008

Red Sox Japan Boycott Averted

Breaking news this morning from Red Sox camp is that the team is planning on boycotting today’s 12:05pm exhibition game against the Blue Jays and the entire season opening Japan trip. Reason for the boycott is that the coaches will not be given the $40,000 compensation that they were promised for making the trip (the players, however, will be getting that compensation).

According to The Boston Globe, “Mike Lowell confirmed that the team voted unanimously this morning not to make the scheduled trip to Japan or play its final spring training game against Toronto this afternoon unless the coaches, training staff, and equipment staff were going to be compensated for making the trip to Japan.”

Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was one of the players involved with the phone call with MLB this fall setting up the trip and he has said that this situation is unacceptable.

“We had an agreement. We had an agreement in October,” Schilling said. “I was one of the five or six players on the phone call. Some of the things they promised they’ve already taken away. From the players point of view, we all felt the same way. They can’t do this. This can’t happen.”

Lowell, the team’s player representative, Manager Terry Francona and General Manager Theo Epstein have been in conversations all morning trying to get the issue resolved, hopefully before the Toronto game but at least before the Japan trip. The scene down in Florida is certainly odd as the Blue Jays are getting ready to play a baseball game, the Sox players are getting ready to boycott this game and equipment staff is busy weighing and tagging luggage for the Japan trip that may not be happening.

According to Nick Carfardo’s Extra Bases blog on the Globe website, as of the star time of today’s game the Sox are refusing to play, remaining on the bench. Team captain and Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek has said “We’re not playing until this is resolved.”

I’ll continue to monitor the situation and update everyone as the situation progresses throughout the day. In my opinion this is an excellent display of unity and team support by the Red Sox players. The coaches, training staff and managers were promised this money and for many of them, $40,000 represents a significant amount of their pay. Obviously it is less of an issue for guys like Francona who are making upwards of $2 million a year, and he has said that he doesn’t care personally about the money, but it’s the other guys he promised would be getting paid he’s concerned about. We’ll see how this plays out over the course of the day.

[1:10pm Edit]

As of right now, the Sox-Jays game is scheduled to start momentarily, which could signify that some progress or a settlement has been reached The Globe is reporting. No idea what the story is with the Japan trip but it appears that some steps have been taken in the right direction in the last hour or so. More to come as details emerge.

[1:50pm Edit]

The game between the Jays and Sox is being played as we speak, although scheduled starter Daisuke Matsuzaka was sent to pitch in a minor league game against the Twins AAA afilliate because the team was unsure if he would be able to pitch this afternoon otherwise. In his place, the Sox started David Aardsma.

The Japan boycott has been averted as it is being confirmed on numerous major news sources (ESPN, The Globe) that the trip is back on and the contract dispute has been resolved with regards to the coaching/training staff. Stated Boston hitting coach Dave Magadan, “That the players would consider such action is really appreciated, to say the least,”  he told ESPN’s Claire Smith. “It means as much as the money itself.”

Oakland pitcher, and former Red Sox member Alan Embree, said that he supported Boston’s stance and that the Oakland players would most likely be getting together and talking about this issue as well before they embark on the trip.

“I was under the impression that everybody was taken care of,” Embree said. “I don’t care how they split it up, who’s at fault, they just need to fix it.” He said a Boston player contacted him Wednesday morning. 

After some brief delays and a standoff between the team and MLB it appears that everything has been worked out on this side of the table. It remains to be seen how the Oakland players will handle this situation and if that will affect the games to be played next week in Japan between the two clubs. As of right now though, all systems are go and the boycott worked. A classy move by the Red Sox for sure to make sure that everyone was taken care of.

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  1. […] The GM added an interesting post today on Red Sox Potentially Boycotting Japan Trip […]


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