The Boston Red Sox experienced one of the greatest September collapses of all time last season, and as a result, endured a complete overhaul of the managerial staff and organization. They thought it was time for a change, and they wanted to get rid of the circus act that allegedly was to blame for their struggles.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington thought it would be a good idea to bring in one of the most loudmouthed, knuckleheaded managers to lead a team in need of a stern voice without causing media attention.
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I think just about everyone in the sport agrees Terry Francona was the man for this job and still is, but when a team falls apart as the Red Sox did, it’s always the manager who takes the blame, and for good reason.
But instead of bringing in a disciplinarian to regain control of the clubhouse and change the atmosphere of the dugout for the better, Valentine already has created too much drama for a team that really needs to get its act together if it wants to compete for a wild card spot.
After a slow start, the Red Sox appeared on their way to doing so after winning three consecutive games over the Tampa Bay Rays. But Valentine decided not to focus on that aspect, instead calling out a leader of the team in Kevin Youkilis, stating Youkilis didn’t seem to have the physical and mental desire to play the game as he once did.
In Valentine’s defense, Youkilis has been struggling for more than a year now, but everyone in that clubhouse respects him and probably is more inclined to take advice from him than their loose-cannon manager.
His outburst not only hurt the team, but turned his players against him and caused him to lose respect from the fans and organization. His apology didn’t seem sincere. In fact, it sounded like he called out Youkilis even more, saying they were all “big boys” and would figure it out.
Baseball people, especially those at ESPN, agreed this hire was a great move, and the right move, for the Boston Red Sox. But they all were afraid moments such as this could come back to hurt them.
Valentine has had a winning record in every full managerial season for the past nine years, except his last one with the Mets. His track record and baseball knowledge is there, but that doesn’t always result as being a great manager. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t believe managers play a huge role in the game of baseball, especially in the American League. Their job is to keep the clubhouse and these high-priced athletes happy.
Listening to some of his former players, it seems Valentine has an arrogant attitude that doesn’t play well with a lot of veterans and superstars. If that’s the case, Boston is the last place he belongs.
A lot of analysts believed his time in Japan calmed him down a bit and thought he had matured from his earlier immature antics. It seems nothing has changed for Valentine, and the same problems that resulted in him leaving the New York Mets and heading to Japan remain.
If Cherington and the Red Sox don’t sit down this boy-playing-manager soon and tell him to grow up and get his act together, they are going to lose this team quickly. He’s becoming another Ozzie Guillen and the biggest distraction of all for a team that desperately needs structure.