I have spent the better part of a week commenting on other blogs about the opening days of the Bobby Valentine era as Manager of the Boston Red Sox.
I figured I better take a few moments to offer thoughts on MY site.
He was an awful hire. I knew it the moment it was announced. My jaw just recently unlocked itself from dropping when I heard he was actually a candidate for the position, much less the eventual hire.
I remain stunned the Red Sox franchise was so shortsighted as to hire this guy. I have always felt his managerial career was overrated and his head inflated. And after having been away from the Major Leagues for such a long time (don’t tell me being an analyst keeps you in the loop…not buying that)…he was the one chosen to take over a wounded organization that IMHO required strong, mature and initially at least…silent leadership to steer them out of the funk of not only blowing a playoff spot of historic proportion, but also having their commitment and professionalism questioned after the fact.
All the talk of “beer and wings” had pretty much died down before this chowderhead announced his “no alcohol” policy. Look, these players were dressed down in public in the worst possible way after last September. Valentine wasn’t there. What you do when you get hired for a situation like this is step into the spotlight, introduce yourself…and then obsessively observe how your people go about their business. You give the players an opportunity to clean up their own mess, police themselves…step up. You guys are pros. Show me.
You don’t dress them down at the very dawn of Spring Training by announcing a rule that directly correlates to what caused all the controversy previously…when again, Valentine wasn’t there. We all know you’re in charge, Bobby. All this PR event did was start up the bad vibes once again and show the players they weren’t trusted or respected enough to right the wrong themselves.
Professional management style. No.
That apparently was just for starters. Valentine now can’t stop talking about the Yankees. Not this year’s version mind you, but he’s giving detailed analysis on their plays from 2001. He commented Derek Jeter’s famous flip play in the AL Division Series was flawed. He praised retiring Sox catcher Jason Varitek by pointing out Jason fighting Alex Rodriguez was one of his career highlights. Varitek deserved better.
He didn’t say a controversial word in all his time at ESPN. The Worldwide Leader should ask for at least a partial refund of his salary from his “analyst” days there. They wish he stirred the pot this much at least once during his entire employment there.
If he hadn’t imposed the “booze ban” you might try to dismiss all the Yankee-bashing as his way of deflecting the spotlight away from his players and putting it all on himself. That would also be a flawed argument because while with the Mets it was always about him…arrogant and pompous. He couldn’t handle a drop of criticism there. (Terry Francona felt that first-hand when he commented on the enactment of said alcohol policy) He acted like he wrote the book on managing and no one else had a clue. (Derek Jeter was in the wrong place on that play…)
For some inexplicable reason in the Boston franchise’s true time of need…they somehow managed to hire a clown instead of a champion. If I’m walking into that clubhouse as their new skipper, I’m introducing myself to all and shaking hands with a firm grip, making direct eye contact…and then I am everywhere…eyes watching…eyes observing…who handles their business well and who doesn’t. I learn as much as I can about the team and the players before I even begin to start laying down laws…and certainly before I start ramping up the rivalry…and tearing into the members…of the archrival Yankees. Worry about your own team, Bobby…instead of just Bobby.
Quiet, strong, dignified…winning leadership was required in Boston.
It still is.
If this talented club does manage to win in a big way this year, I’m betting in a big way it will be in spite of Bobby V…not because of him.