Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bobby Valentine Joins the Red Sox, and How Does That Help?

He came in first place exactly once.  He's managed in the American League and the National League to moderate success and has been both the victim and the beneficiary of mid season managerial changes.  He had a fairly undistinguished major league career and has been known as a very quirky, some would say eccentric, manager.  And now he's forever associated with a tumultuous clubhouse where the players have openly rebelled against management.  His career record as a manager is 910-790 - barely over .500.

Bobby Valentine, you're probably thinking as the new Red Sox Manager?

No.  I'm talking about Jimy Williams.  The former Red Sox Manager managed for the Astros, Blue Jays and Red Sox.  Williams only played two years in the mid 60's and was the manager when the Red Sox imploded during the infamous Carl Everett-led 2001 Red Sox collapse (well for 118 games of it).  He also won exactly zero World Series for the Boston Red Sox during his five year stint with the Sox.  I hated that team.

Can't wait for this Era to be over
And while he might not have Jimy-isms to snicker over now, we may still chuckle over the enduring image of Valentine sneaking back into the dugout with full disguise after being thrown out of a Mets game. 

I'm digressing from the point, though.  The real issue is not who Bobby V most resembles, but who he is most different from.

By all accounts tonight, the Red Sox ownership has found the mouthpiece that it has wanted ever since that tragic 2009 drubbing by the Angels in the ALDS - when fingers were pointing in all directions, particularly after the Ninth Inning, Game 3 collapse at Fenway.  The Red Sox brass wanted to depart completely from the Francona/Epstein regime after that 2009 season, and with the beer and fried chicken-fueled debacle of late September 2011, Lucchino and Henry finally found their opportunity to clean house.  While one would think that departing completely away from Francona meant hiring a taskmaster manager who kept the Becketts, Lesters and Lackeys in check, we couldn't be more wrong what the Red Sox were thinking.

Terry Francona was always a players' manager and always took a bullet for his players, never blaming them for the team's shortcomings.  The players proceeded to walk all over him.  It was clear that the Red Sox needed to change things up by hiring a manager who wouldn't stand for any of the elitist and entitled attitudes of the Red Sox players.  Valentine, unfortunately, is a change alright.  But instead of being the taskmaster that the team needed, he changes things up by blaming the players rather than protecting them after poor performances. No clubhouse speeches for him, just press and media coverage.  This is good for Larry Lucchino and John Henry because now there will be someone who publicly speaks against the spoiled players, and not just leaks the information from the corner office.

In an admitted hatchet job by Murray Chass, (admitted by me only), the former Times writer has found Valentine to be the most disliked man in baseball, recounting numerous instances where Valentine either publicly called out players for their lack of performance or publicly fought with his own players.  Great.  Honestly, being the most disliked man in baseball is fitting since the last six weeks have demonstrated that the Red Sox are most disliked team in baseball.  It's a perfect match.

And now we're stuck with this crap.  Imagine watching NESN after Red Sox games.  The press conferences and interviews right outside the clubhouse will become Valentine's pulpit.  I thought Valentine was brutal to watch on ESPN, now we have to listen to him 160+ times every year.  And when Valentine gets going after a tough loss, how do you think old souls, like Carl Crawford and Daniel Bard, will react after one of Valentine's public humiliations?  What about the Beckett, Lackey and Lester?  How long before Youk and A-Gone starts complaining?  I really don't think this is going to end well.  Just like with Jimy Williams in August 2001.  I hope I'm wrong.

As a final note, I find it interesting that Valentine's greatest success came in a land where they don't understand a word he's saying.  We would only be so lucky.

photo courtesy of andaplayertobenamedlater.com

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