Few are Red Sox fans who forget the Bobby Valentine nightmare of 2012. Hired as the Red Sox manager following the September 2011 debacle, Valentine’s divide-and-conquer style toxified an injury-wracked, confidence-impaired team.
A year ago, the Red Sox were playing out a disheartening string, just hoping to finish the season with whatever was left of their dignity. They played under the lash of a front office who’d become something like lost souls, and a manager whose idea of quelling the gases remaining from that stupefying September 2011 collapse was to light matches.
Today, the Red Sox sit, stand, scamper, and strut as the American League East champions. And one of the keys was shown by pitcher Ryan Dempster, in the middle of the champagne-spraying clubhouse celebration, after they nailed the division on the arm of Jon Lester’s 100th career win.
David Ortiz was one of the Red Sox players, however few they were, who didn’t join in, at once or pretty much ever, when Bobby Valentine’s divide-and-conquer managing and public relations style divided an injury-and-confidence wracked team and metastasised the toxins in a clubhouse still poisoned by the September 2011. And this is the thanks he gets?
Valentine sat for an interview with Bob Costas, of NBC, that aired Tuesday evening, and Valentine called Ortiz a quitter in every conceivable phrase that didn’t use the word explicitly.
Is it me, or is nobody questioning the Cleveland Indians’s sanity for hiring Terry Francona as their forthcoming manager the way only too many questioned the Boston Red Sox’s sanity for hiring Bobby Valentine as his since-putsched successor?
Well, maybe the Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s Terry Pluto comes the closest: “The only question that I had about Terry Francona managing the Indians was this: Why would Francona want to manage the Indians? But it’s clear that he does, and he must see more hope for the team in the near future than most of us do.”
This is not to suggest that any known or alleged president of Red Sox Nation should proclaim, “Our long national nightmare is over.” But it is to suggest that the Red Sox and their minions can go to sleep tonight not having to wonder whom Bobby Valentine threw under the proverbial bus this time, if not shooting himself in the proverbial foot yet again over some actual or alleged slight or accusation.
He didn’t really get it all season long as it was. And even before the Boston Red Sox hit the Yankee Stadium field Wednesday night, with a shot at forcing the Empire Emeritus into a tiebreaker for the American League East title, assuming the Baltimore Orioles finish what they started and beat the Tampa Bay Rays, Bobby Valentine still doesn’t get it.
Which is why CBS Sports is saying at this writing that Valentine’s going to get it, possibly as soon as Thursday.
If you want to know the best reason why New York Mets manager Terry Collins isn’t anywhere close to the proverbial hot seat, and why Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine may be lucky to escape with his life when the season ends, you need look no further than what Collins did after a gruesome enough loss to the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday and before a blessed enough win against the Miami Marlines Friday.
Bobby Valentine’s bicycle seems to spend more time backpedaling than anything else when he’s aboard. And he has no better sense of direction than when he’s trying to pedal forward.
A few days ago, when a reporter had the audacity to ask in which if any areas the Red Sox needed improvement, Valentine delivered yet another remark the kind that has Red Sox Nation and Red Sox critics alike wondering when, not if, Valentine gets pinked. Not because he’s wrong, necessarily, but because he has a need, apparently insatiable, to take the low road, implying he can do nothing much past playing what he’s been dealt.
It’s come to this. The other team who collapsed almost as monumentally as the Red Sox did a year ago gets credit for not doing what the Red Sox did, letting an incumbent and decent manager fall on his sword and hiring Bobby Valentine in his place.
The Red Sox collapse spared the Atlanta Braves the ignominy attached to the Red Sox, never mind that nobody accused the Atlanta rotation of spending more time with chicken and brewskis than with pitching charts and sliders on the black down the stretch. And the Braves should probably be grateful not to have had imposed upon them what was imposed upon the Red Sox.
In the wake of the 2004 World Series, I wrote, for a since-defunct publication, “[S]omething seems not quite right about the literature of the Boston Red Sox turning toward triumph and away from tragedy.” Specifically, I was reviewing Faithful, Stewart O’Nan’s and (yes, that) Stephen King’s collaborative, end-to-end chronicle of viewing that year’s extraterrestrial Red Sox. And I was trying to say this: A near-century’s literature of transcendental disaster, usually upon the brink of the Promised Land but not necessarily exclusive to it, could only become a literature of transcendental triteness, now that the Red Sox had won a World Series, in my lifetime and every other Red Sox Nation citizen’s.