Shooting or brushing back the messenger is two things. One is bad form. The second is that, until or unless the message is demonstrably libelous or slanderous, it rarely works to the shooter’s advantage. It doesn’t keep people from trying. And it doesn’t keep those folks from looking foolish. (Donaldus Minimus, call your office. You too, Hilarious Rodent Clinton.)
Perhaps it’s wise to accept at last that the winter meetings, freshly concluded in Nashville, are not always going to produce blockbusters. Since this year’s meetings didn’t, unless you want to count Dan Haren landing with the Washington Nationals, there’s a consensus brewing among the hot stove toppers that they were “boring” or “eventless.” Well, as the man used to say on old-time radio, oh, now, I wouldn’t say that . . .
LEGS UP . . .
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.
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.
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.
Once upon a time, George Scott, an ertswhile Red Sox star, moved to the Milwaukee Brewers (he was part of the deal that also made ex-Red Sox out of Jim Lonborg, Ken Brett, and Billy Conigliaro), had a conversation with the Brewers’ one-time co-owner, Edmund Fitzgerald. No, silly, not the wreck about which Gordon Lightfoot wrote a certain ancient song hit, however the Brewers weren’t doing at the time. “You know, Mr. Fitzgerald, if we’re gonna win,” the big man called Boomer said, “the players gotta play better, the coaches gotta coach better, the manager gotta manage better, and the owners gotta own better.”
Today, I’d rather think about Barry Larkin and Ron Santo going into the Hall of Fame, Tim McCarver going in as the Frick Award recipient, and Bob Elliott going in as the Spink Award recipient. Thank Murray Chass for putting that to one side for now. Chass, himself a Hall of Fame baseball writer (longtime New York Times reporter and columnist whose specialties included acute analyses of the business side of the game), has uncorked yet another in his periodic series which could be called “Valentine’s Day,” considering that Bobby Valentine has been a particular bete noire of Chass’s since Chass was still a Timesman and Valentine was the manager of the New York Mets.
Red Sox Nation may be stung somewhat by the Kevin Youkilis trade to the White Sox, especially considering the demeaning his manager inflicted on him earlier in the season. But they can take heart that this may not quite prove to be the absolute worst trade of all time involving a fan and clubhouse favourite.
For that dishonour you’d have to hark to Cleveland, where they still can’t forget the capricious trade of a run-producing machine, with a modest batting average, for a singles-hitting outfielder whose often-gaudy batting averages masked that he wasn’t worth too many runs on the scoreboard. A trade about which the Indians general manager who made the deal crowed, “What’s the fuss all about? I just traded hamburger for steak.”