Column: Red Sox fans will not miss Bobby V
Published: Monday, October 8, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 8, 2012 22:10
It took every ounce of self-control for me to not to celebrate during the middle of my African history class last Thursday.
Bobby Valentine, the bane of my existence for the past year, had finally been fired by the Boston Red Sox. A text alert from ESPN confirmed it at around noon on Thursday. The Bobby V era was no more.
Not since the days of Grady Little had I felt such discontent with a manager. Maybe Red Sox fans were spoiled with Terry Francona as our manager, arguably the best in Red Sox history. His departure was upsetting, untimely and unfortunate. After John Farrell left to manage Toronto and Theo Epstein took over in Chicago, the Red Sox were left with few options, so they settled on Valentine.
From day one, the hiring of Valentine was a questionable call. Prior to coming to the Red Sox, Valentine had managed 15 seasons in the MLB. He spent eight seasons with the Rangers and seven with the Mets. Over those years he has a winning percentage of .510 and one N.L. pennant, where he would eventually lose in the 2000 World Series against the Yankees. In one year with the Red Sox he went 69-93, the lowest winning percentage in Red Sox history since Billy Herman went 62-100 in 1965. It was also only the second time in the last 80 years that the Red Sox finished last in the A.L. East.
Although Valentine stunk more than spoiled milk as a manager, his task was far from easy with this Red Sox team. He took over a team that was left in shambles. Francona had lost control of this team. Francona had won them two World Series in the last eight years and had lost his job over fried chicken and beer in the bullpen. With team chemistry at an all-time low and a lack of direction, enter Bobby V.
Not only was Valentine put in a rough situation to start with, the 2012 Red Sox were the most banged-up team in their history. A franchise-record 56 players appeared in games because 27 different Red Sox players accounted for 34 stints on the disabled list. That was the most of any team since 1987. That being said, I personally hold him 90 percent responsible for the atrocity that was this season.
On April 10, just ten games into the season, Valentine called out former Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis for not giving his all when he played. He felt Youk was not “as physically or emotionally into the game.” Youkilis was flabbergasted and second baseman Dustin Pedroia responded by saying “that’s not how we do things around here.” Two and a half months later Youkilis was traded, after an underwhelming start to the season. Valentine would apologize for that statement soon after the incident and again on his final day.
It was nearly impossible to take him seriously as a manager. Valentine tried to make everything a joke. There’s nothing wrong with kidding around, humor is a great way to lift the spirits, but when you cannot have a serious moment with your players, they will not take you seriously as a coach.
On September 5, during an interview with WEEI radio host Glenn Ordway, Valentine said that he wanted to punch him in the face. Managers do not do that. He was a clown and turned a respectable franchise into a three ring circus. But, what should I have expected out of a guy who was ejected from a game and tried to sneak back in, donning a fake moustache as a disguise.
When the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus were not in town, there was enough drama to shoot two seasons of “All My Children.” On August 1, rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks had a poor defensive outing. After a few errors, Middlebrooks was greeted in the dugout by Valentine saying, “nice inning kid.” Good one, Valentine, those were just the perfect words of encouragement for a manager to say to their rookie.
That incident prompted an unknown source, either a player or coach, to tell the owners, which got Valentine in trouble. He had no control. Players held meetings, no one sat near him on the bench and they had public displays of disrespect, like when pitcher Alfredo Aceves did not hand Valentine the ball during a pitching change. All Valentine could do was put his foot in his mouth and make bad coaching decisions.
In his final days as a Red Sox manager, Valentine told the media that he felt that he was undermined by his coaching staff. When asked about that he responded by saying “I had just a feeling; I don’t have any facts, just a feeling once in a while that we weren’t all on the same page.” Interesting; instead of assuming responsibility, he points fingers. Way to put the “man” in manager there, Bobby.
This year was the 100th season in Fenway Park’s history and this is how Red Sox fans get to remember it. Thanks a lot, Bobby V; you will not be missed.