Saturday August 18, 2012

NEW YORK -- Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine says his team’s difficult season has not been caused by the media.

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said Thursday that he blamed the media "a little bit" for the culture of toxicity surrounding Boston since the team’s September collapse last year.

"It’s always the media. What, are you kidding, partly? I think he was totally incorrect. Partly?" Valentine said playfully before Friday night’s game against the New York Yankees before turning serious.

"The media had nothing to do with the season," the manager said.

Boston led the AL wild-card race by nine games in early September, then skidded to a 7-20 finish and missed the playoffs. Terry Francona, who led the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, left after the season and was replaced by Valentine. The new manager wanted to change a clubhouse culture where players ate fried chicken and drank beer during games, rather than sit in the dugout to support their teammates.

There has been plenty of turmoil as the Red Sox have failed to contend. Valentine clashed with Kevin Youkilis, who was traded. Yahoo! Sports reported Red Sox players met with ownership on July 27 to complain about the manager.

Speaking Thursday on WEEI radio, Lucchino called the report "exaggerated and inaccurate" and said the media was partly to blame for the difficult clubhouse culture.

"I think we all share a little blame for it," he said. "There might have been some things that we could have done earlier and better, I mean myself as well, to ensure that it didn’t develop to quite the level that it has. But I certainly think the culture of a passionate sports city like Boston with not just one, but two sports talk radio stations, and not just one, but two regional sports networks and not just one city but several cities in New England whose papers cover the team, I think there is an intensity and a breadth to the media coverage here that is different than in most other places."

Boston began Friday with a 58-61 record, 121Ž2 games behind the first-place Yankees in the AL East.

"It’s been a real challenging year. A lot of things going on," Valentine said. "I don’t know if it’s more than I expected, but it’s been challenging -- just the way we like it."