Bobby Valentine deserves kudos for really giving it 100 percent in his mission to become the worst baseball manager of all time. Wait, he’s not trying to become the worst baseball manager of all time?
In a two-day span, Valentine found a way to not only alienate one of the more liked Red Sox players around in Kevin Youkilis, he also managed to do it in a way that irked at least one other player to the point where he felt inclined to come out and publicly rebuke the initial statements. That’s not how you want to start a week.
During a Sunday night interview on WHDH-TV, Valentine said that Youkilis, in his estimation, wasn’t “as physically or emotionally into the game” as he seemed to think he should have been. Now while Valentine probably did have grounds to be thinking about where Youkilis’ head was at (he’s currently batting .200 and initially got off to a two-for-20 start), saying it on the radio wasn’t the wisest of decisions.
Predictably, the comments caused quite a stir – eventually culminating in Youkilis coming into Valentine’s office on Monday and asking for an explanation. Instead of standing firm and explaining why he had said what he said, though, Valentine apparently decided to back off and offer an apology.
“I don’t know if he accepted my apology,” Valentine said after the fact (via Washington Post). “It was sincere.”
For his part, Youkilis seemed genuinely surprised by his manager’s decision to fire off shots through the media. Here is what he offered to WEEI on the matter:
"I'm more confused than anything, because I think everyone knows I go out and play the game as hard as I can. That's just my style of play. I never was blessed with the raw tools … so I've always had to use playing the game as hard and with full effort my whole life. I don't know any better, so that's just the way I play."
He also acknowledged that the pair had spoken since the comments were originally made.
"We talked," Youkilis said. "Everything, whatever we talk about stays inside that room."
But perhaps the worst thing that came from all this is the fact that players (namely Dustin Pedroia) immediately rushed in to Youkilis’ defense.
Via the Washington Post:
“I know he plays as hard as anybody I’ve ever seen in my life. I have his back and his teammates have his back,” Dustin Pedroia said. “I really don’t know what Bobby’s trying to do, but that’s not the way we go about our stuff around here. He’ll figure that out. The whole team is behind Youk.”
Asked if Valentine was trying to motivate Youkilis, Pedroia said, “maybe that works in Japan” — where Valentine used to manage.
So, to recap: Valentine’s team is currently off to a 4-5 start, good for fourth in the AL East. After a season where the squad was wrecked by unnecessary distractions and an apparent lack of direction from the top, Valentine has decided to bring all that back for a second go-around at the very start of the season. And best of all, Valentine’s leadership has already been undermined before he’s even gotten a chance to do something really stupid like we all know he eventually will.
The Red Sox are a must-watch baseball team this year, but only because you don’t want to look away and miss them completely self-implode.