Oh, to be the Baltimore Orioles right now….beautiful ballpark that doesn’t double as a “living museum,” a team that plays hard, strong pitching, a pennant race, meaningful games with the Yankees, a manager who doesn’t threaten to punch a prominent radio host in the mouth on the air.
It must be nice.
Why, oh why is Bobby Valentine still managing the Boston Red Sox. Every day – and that’s not an exaggeration – he does or says something to embarrass the franchise and diminish the reputation of one of the most storied baseball teams in history. With every stupid thing that he does, a little piece of the Red Sox dies.
We’re going to look back on this season 20 years from now and not be able to explain to our children who Bobby Valentine was, why he was hired by the Red Sox and what exactly he did to take an already floundering franchise and steer it directly into irrelevancy.
But we’ll know. Everyone who has witnessed these past seven months knows. There’s just too much to put into words, and it’s impossible to capture the ineptitude with which he has formulated a lineup, developed relationships with his players and managed the media. To try to explain Bobby Valentine’s season is like trying to explain what someone was thinking before they committed mass murder. You know it’s horrible, and you know everything about it is wrong, but there’s no way to actually illustrate what’s behind it. It’s way too complicated. I even tried to explain how I felt about this season to an outsider, a Yankees fan, a few weeks ago. What came out of my mouth was a bunch of mumbling, stuttering and overall nothingness. It’s very difficult to sum it all up.
Just over the past few weeks, Valentine has done things that in any other season would have instantly caught my attention, but instead were just par for the course this year. He batted Scott Podsednik – the team’s No. 6 outfielder – third in a game, then told the media that he didn’t even realize that Podsednik was batting third. It was the first time in Podsednik’s 11-year Major League career that he had hit third in a game.
As ridiculous as that all is, I didn’t blink when I heard it because it only registered a three out of 10 on the “Bobby Valentine is trying to sabotage the hopes and dreams of all things tied to the Boston Red Sox scale.” When he was late to the clubhouse last week because he had to pick up his son at the airport, that only registered a two on the same scale.
After all, the team has already checked out (see: trading Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett, and starting Mauro Gomez, Podsednik and Mike Aviles). Bobby might as well check out too. In his position, I get checking out. He’s a lame duck. He’s gone after this year, the team isn’t making the playoffs – or even coming close – and he’s universally disliked around the region. His players don’t like him, his family probably doesn’t like him and he’ll most likely never work in baseball again.
So if you’re Bobby, check out. It makes perfect sense. Coast the rest of the way, clean out your locker and all parties involved will try to forget that this ever happened. It was like a blind date that went bad. We didn’t really know what we were getting in to, now we do, and the sex isn’t nearly enough to justify continuing to see each other.
There’s a line, though, that no matter how bad this season has been, shouldn’t be crossed. Trust me when I say that everybody wishes it were the off-season already, but it’s not, so a few rules have to be upheld until we get there – namely, not challenging radio hosts to on-air fights after the host asked a perfectly valid question.
I was driving in my car on Wednesday listening to Valentine’s weekly spot on WEEI’s “The Big Show,” with hosts Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley. All season long, the interviews have teetered on contentious. Valentine is short with both hosts, there’s clearly a mutual dislike between the hosts and Bobby and it’s always felt like the sides were one word away from screaming at each other. It’s been downright hostile.
And finally, after a season of tip-toeing and not losing his temper (at least fully), Valentine lost it.
Ordway: “Have you checked out?”
Valentine: “What an embarrassing thing to say. If I were there, I’d punch you right in the mouth. Ha, ha. How’s that sound? Is that like I checked out? What an embarrassing thing. Why would somebody even, that’s stuff that a comic strip person would write. If someone’s here, watching me go out at 2 o’clock in the afternoon working with the young players, watching me put in the right relief pitchers to get a win, putting on a hit-and-run when it was necessary, talking to the guys after the game in the food room — how could someone in real life say that?”
There you go. Ordway asked Valentine a question that was on everyone’s minds, and it was one that Valentine could have deflected by saying, “No, I haven’t checked out. It may seem like that sometimes, but we’re still doing all we can to win games this season and get prepared to contend next year. No one – including myself – has checked out.”
That would have been it. It’s not a huge deal. Just lie. Bill Belichick does it all the time. He just doesn’t really answer the question, and if the true answer is one that would harm the team or his image, he just lies. People commend him for that.
Instead, Valentine decides that he wants to punch Ordway “in the mouth.” Just like that, the Red Sox had made national news again because Valentine couldn’t keep his stupid mouth – which I would love to punch – shut. He couldn’t just be diplomatic. Nope. He’s always got to be the show, even on his way out, so he stirred up controversy by attacking a guy who was just doing his job. Unbelievable.
I nearly dropped my coffee all over my lap while driving when he said it. I was absolutely floored. It was like Valentine was caught in a situation he didn’t feel comfortable with, so his first reaction was to raise his voice and accuse Ordway of some wrong doing. And really, that’s been Valentine’s M.O. all year. When things get a little bit uncomfortable, he attacks. Rather then be put in a position where he looks weak, he goes on the offensive.
The rest of the interview followed suit. It was awkward, with Valentine giving his usual fake-candid responses to questions because he thinks it’s cute, such as:
Ordway: “How was your breakfast meeting with John Henry in Seattle?”
Valentine: ”Breakfast itself was very disappointing. … The oatmeal was cold. They didn’t even have brown sugar for the oatmeal. Of all places, Seattle not having brown sugar. John Henry’s ham was overcooked, and they said this was one of the best breakfast spots in the city.”
Terrific Bobby, way to go. You really pulled the rabbit out of the hat on that one.
He also was offended when he was asked about his tardiness to the clubhouse the other day (the aforementioned picking up his son incident, in which he WAS two hours later than usual to work), when he was asked about his postgame press conferences and when asked about pitching Alfredo Aceves more than is humanly possible last week.
It should have just been another day in the life of Bobby V, another day for Red Sox fans to listen to the guy that manages their team talk in circles and only slightly embarrass himself. What it turned out to be was much was more. It was the absolute summation of Valentine’s season-long failure. When put in a tough spot, he did something nonsensical, embarrassed himself and embarrassed the jersey he puts on every day.
Later in the interview he called this season “miserable.” Guess what, Bobby? It’s been miserable on this end too. Just quit, and we’ll skip the formalities.