A little over two weeks ago, Theo Epstein criticized Mike Mussina over his complaints — from 2004 — about the Yankees’ ill-fated trip to Japan to opening the regular season. At the time, Yankee fans were a little surprised about Theo’s seeming breach of protocol. A GM’s criticizing another team’s player for comments about an unrelated incident are exceedingly rare in sports.
Today, the shoe is squarely on the other foot, and I have to wonder if this isn’t some sort of karmic retribution. The Red Sox, you see, now view their upcoming trip to Japan as a huge inconvenience. Josh Beckett, their ace, is out indefinitely with back problems and will miss the trip. Daisuke Matsuzaka’s wife is expecting, and he may miss the trip as well. The trip — two 18-hour plane rides in four days plus two baseball games that actually count — disrupts the rhythm of Spring Training and generally messes with athletes used to routine.
Publicly, in the Boston Herald, the Red Sox are saying that they’re excited to go. They say they could sit back and complain, but they’re just going to tough it out instead. Of course, reading between the lines, complaining is exactly what they’re doing, and I don’t blame them. In this case, I completely sympathize with the players.
As for Mr. Epstein, I think he should take this one as a lesson. Internally, I’m sure there will be a lot of Boston-based grumblings about this trip both before and after. Mussina just happened to share his with the world. For that, he does not deserve the criticism he received. Enjoy your flights, Theo. I hear crossing the international date line twice in 96 hours does wonders to the body.