Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 00:09
Ladies and Gentlemen, the circus is in town at Fenway Park. I wish I could say that I am surprised by this horrific season the Sox have put together, but after last September, it was quite evident that anything is possible and no outcome should be unexpected. In a year where Major League Baseball may see it’s most exciting playoff race ever, the Red Sox will be about as relevant as the WNBA.
Probably the least surprising part of this whole debacle has been the crash and burning of first-year manager Bobby Valentine. I don’t want to get into a debate about if Bobby V is to blame for the Sox struggles. Instead, I just want to ask two pretty simple questions. First, Why is Valentine still wearing a Red Sox uniform? Second, is ownership really this pathetic? The answer to the latter is short, yes, they are. The only explanation for the first is the sad realization that there probably isn’t a single person in baseball that is longing to manage the Red Sox right now.
I understand that Larry Lucchino said that Valentine would finish out this season as the manager, but he also said in February that Carl Crawford would be a “key player in 2012 and for several years thereafter” (maybe he was talking about the Dodgers); some things just don’t work out. If it was necessary to unload Gonzalez, Beckett, and Crawford as soon as possible, why is it not the same case for Valentine? The problem with Gonzalez and Crawford was that they weren’t Red Sox. Sure, they have good to even great skill sets, but they don’t have the persona to be on the Red Sox. The Red Sox persona is one of someone who just simply gets the job done with no glamour to it. The Red Sox persona is Dave Roberts stealing second in Game 4 of 2004 ALCS. It’s Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek. More recently, it’s guys like Cody Ross. Bobby Valentine does not fit this persona and he doesn’t belong with the Red Sox.
It’s pretty clear that not only has Bobby V not worked out as manager, but also he is embarrassing the Boston Red Sox even more so than the lineup card he fills out nightly. And at this point, I do not believe he cares.
I’m sure most of you have at least heard about Bobby V’s latest unraveling. In an interview Wednesday, Sept. 5th, on WEEI, Valentine (jokingly) threatened to punch host Glenn Ordway in the mouth after Ordway asked him if he had “checked out” this season. He also went on a tangent about media reports of him arriving late to games in Oakland, and then went on to call out Joe Maddon. In one interview Bobby Valentine became a walking punch line. In a sense, I don’t blame Valentine for his reaction after being asked if he had checked out. What did Ordway expect him to say? It was a cheap question and Ordway was trying to draw blood from an interview with a (at the time) 4th place manager in September.
However, Bobby Valentine has not earned the respect of the Boston media, and more importantly, he never earned the respect of his players. Valentine gets questions like the one he received last Wednesday because he has shown us that if you let him talk, he will give you a headline. One of the first things he did as manager was publicly turn on Kevin Youkilis. So go ahead and say the media is unfair, but the media didn’t doom Valentine, he did it to himself.
Quite frankly, Valentine has indeed checked out regardless of what he says. Let’s face it folks, add up the numbers of the infielders next time they take the field, the total is up there around 250. How many times has NESN caught Bobby V just kind of staring off into the distance like he is looking for coaching tips from the monster seats? It almost makes me miss Grady Little.
The only person I exclude from the blame of this season is Ben Cherington. Valentine was the owners’ choice not Cherington’s, who also had the job of taking on the aftermath of an incredibly childish spending binge. Had it been up to Cherington, I believe Valentine would have been gone during the All-Star break, but ownership was not ready to admit they were wrong at that point.
The Red Sox have an ownership group that sees the team as an investment. These owners have also invested their money into the English Premier League and NASCAR. The organization has become fake and hallow. They have the sellout streak to prove it, because Fenway Park has not been full for more than a handful of games this season. It is a brand, not a baseball team. Bobby Valentine was ownership’s personal pick in order to satisfy the common Red Sox customer. Valentine was a guy that everyone knew. The common fan that doesn’t really follow baseball (which is sadly, a lot of Sox fans) loved the signing of a name they recognized. They didn’t know that Valentine sports a career record barely over .500 and has been virtually thrown out of every coaching job he has had, including in Japan.
If anything, I would hope that ownership has realized that not only is Valentine bad for this baseball team, but he is bad for their brand and its time to throw Bobby Valentine out of Boston, immediately.