Keidel: Boston’s New Valentine: More Cupid Than Stupid

By Jason Keidel
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The lasting snapshot of Bobby Valentine belies his baseball acumen. It’s an image of self-sabotage, donning a disguise in the dugout after he was tossed from a game while managing the Mets.

As a Yankees fan, however, I find nothing funny about Valentine running the Red Sox. He brings hunger, autonomy, and a limitless recall of baseball knowledge. After Terry Francona and Theo Epstein were jettisoned from Fenway, Yankees fans exhaled, knowing that their nearly ten-year tormentors left the AL East. And all indications were that Boston sought a Muppet as manager, merely a funnel for brass to exact its power over their lethargic players. Then they chuck a changeup and pick the one man who can’t be harnessed.

Cynics assert that Valentine’s a bad choice because he’s never won a World Series, which is silly. How many titles did Joe Torre win before he joined the Yankees? How many did Francona win before he led the Red Sox? How about Charlie Manuel before Philadelphia? None. None. None. You’ll recall the “Clueless Joe” refrain from local media when George Steinbrenner plucked Torre from the managerial landfill fifteen years ago. How’d that go?

Granted, each skipper was bequeathed a behemoth, but each team they managed hadn’t won a World Series in a considerable period of time. And there’s something to be said for a skipper hell-bent on hoisting his first trophy.

So why not Valentine? Were you, the Red Sox fan, really grinding your teeth over Gene Lamont? Was any other candidate so desperate to manage that they hopped continents and lived in Japan for years? All indications are that Larry Lucchino reached around GM Ben Cherington to grab Valentine. So what? Was Steinbrenner’s authority ever muted? Weren’t all choices ultimately his? Now we have statues, plaques, and parks named after The Boss, seven World Series wins later.

There’s some background discontent, Red Sox players groaning over giving Valentine the reigns. But when you gobble chicken and guzzle beer in the clubhouse – during games – lounging your way through a laughable, 7-20 September, then you forfeit the moral and managerial high ground.

No, Valentine doesn’t fill the closer void left by Papelbon, nor does he fortify starting staff or fix the outfield. But what club doesn’t have holes? Is the Bronx beaming because Freddy Garcia should return to the Yankees’ rotation? Have you scanned the Mets’ 2000 lineup lately? Valentine led that anemic club to the Fall Classic.

As a native New Yorker, who loathes all things Massachusetts, from the Red Sox to Belichick to Ben Affleck to their accent, I must say Bobby Valentine, though sometimes a mutinous manager, is also a brilliant baseball man and a dangerous addition – particularly for the Yankees.

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  • Kurt Spitzner


    • Kurt Spitzner


      • JK

        What happened, bud?

    • JK

      What was censored, dude?

      • Kurt Spitzner

        please refer to my email!

  • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

    I love Bobby Valentine. Always have, always will. In fact, not to make you feel old, but my first ever ballgame as a kid was Bobby V’s first win as a Met in ’96 against San Francisco, when Alvaro Espinosa went back-to-back with Roberto Petagine.

    Bobby Valentine’s success in Beantown will be solely based on their faith in and patience with him – both of which are already at all-time lows, which is stunningly stupid and shortsighted of Bostonians. What is the point of not having faith in a guy with a proven track record of success? He’s your manager, whether you like it or not. Do you really know as well as I do how little sense of humor you have? I guess you do! Bobby Valentine is all about having fun in the dugout – and not the way Sox pitchers were having fun this past year – and Sox fans can’t handle that. Honestly, any choice would’ve been a bad choice in their minds, but at least they know who Bobby V is – can you imagine them trying to complain about Gene Lamont?

    I say bravo, Ben Cherington. You brought a guy with a sense of humor into a clubhouse of doubt and shame. Good for you. Bobby Valentine can and will achieve success in Beantown if the fans and media let him. But they won’t. So, best of luck to ya, Bobby – you’re gonna need it.

    • JK

      Thanks, Jonas. And yes, you made me feel VERY old, as my first game was in 1977!

      As to your Cherington point, I’m a little suspicious about that. I think Lucchino pulled rank on Cherington for the hire. But either way, Boston could be a beast with Valentine. I’m worried. You’re loving it. Heh.

      • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

        Do I love it? Of course. I never wanted to see Bobby go and I’m happy he’s getting another shot. If he’d been hired by the Astros I’d have been pleased (and why they haven’t fired their manager yet is beyond me. A weak debut season followed by 106 losses? Brad Mills must have something on ownership). I agree with you that Lucchino might’ve overruled Cherington on this one, but the two seem to be on the same page for the most part.

        As a Yankees fan, though, I wouldn’t be as worried as you are. Terry Francona was and is a fine manager and the most that Valentine can provide is a spark under those guys’ behinds. The Sox have just as much talent as they did last year – perhaps more so, since Lackey will be out for a while. If only A.J. could’ve had surgery… The thing I’m worried about, as a Bobby fan, is that the media and fans already have no patience for him. Why everyone in Boston is booing this hire is beyond me. Like you said, there is plenty to be excited about. Secretly, deep down, I think they all just wanted Terry to come back like Theo did after that brief resignation a few years ago.

  • A "Going Postal" Worker

    Mr. Keidel:
    As usual, you write very sharp, very intelligent pieces.

    I think that Bobby Valentine could do very well with the Bosox (I’m a Yankee fan to the core – I even HATE clam chowder, unless it’s “Manhattan” clam chowder).

    At the same time, Bobby V also seems to be slightly unbalanced (remember the game as Mets manager, when he got thrown out by the umpire, only to subsequently reappear in the dugout with dark glasses and a fake moustache)? I laughed so hard, there were tears rolling down my eyes. Let’s hope that the “psycho” Bobby V re-emerges up in Bean town.

    • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

      Hear hear, good sir. But even if that Bobby V re-emerges – and of course it will, as that is the only Bobby V that exists – the real hope is that Bostonians embrace it, which they already aren’t, even though they should. Alas.

    • JK

      Thank you very much.

      I’m authentically concerned about this. He will be a volcano under the lethargic butts in that clubhouse. They still have tons of talent.

  • Daniel Helming

    Valentine is said to have a LaRussa-like ability to wear out other teams’ benches and bullpens. If he could challenge the Yanks every year with the likes of Steve Trachsel and Glendon Rusch, what can he do with the likes of Beckett, Lester, and Bucholz?

    • ....

      Helming, when Valentine managed the Mets, they played the Yankees ONLY 6 games during the year. Doughtful that Trachsel & Rusch pitched every year against the Yankees.

      I don’t ever remember seeing Rusch have a start against them and if he did pitch against them, I’m sure, like they did to Trachsel, the Yankees spanked him

      Boston play the 18 games every year, Yankees usually rock Becket. Let’s not make Boston 3 pitchers be Seaver, Palmer & Halladay, because they’re not, not even close.

      Didn’t the Yankees spank both Becket & Lester in September of this year, when Boston needed to win, you remember the big choked by winning only 7 games in September, both Beckett & Lester choked big time down the strength.

      Let’s not forget, Yankees never had a problem beating Texas & the Mets when Valentine managed them, Boston will not be any different.

      • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

        Also, Beckett is spelled with two T’s at the end, so, you know…

        But yeah, Rusch was only on the Mets for a couple of years. But the Mets did manage to spank Roger Clemens almost every time, except for that time he threw at Mike Piazza, demoralizing them further than they already had been after Doc Gooden came back and beat ’em in Game 1 of that doubleheader.

        Bobby V will not make or break the Yankees’ success against them. Last I checked, Beckett owns the Yanks when healthy – please check his record after spanking you twice (two times) in the ’03 World Series. Maybe I’m wrong, but I have a feeling you are not right. My sincere apologies if you are.

        Boston’s matchups against the Bronx Bombers will not sway one way or the other based on the awesome dude sitting in the dugout. Good for Bobby. Good for Ben Cherington. But if that team is busy eatin’ Popeye’s and drinkin’ suds like Oil Can Boyd in the ’86 Series, nobody’s going to keep them from losing. Bobby Valentine is a great guy whose success in Boston will solely be based on the lack of patience their fans already have for him.

        • JK

          No, you’re right, Jonas – Josh Beckett is our Daddy when healthy, no matter his uniform.

        • ...

          Beckett owns the Yankees when healthy. WHAT?. I’m sure many key Yankees were injured during those games that BeckeTT pitched, injuries are part of the games, as a Mets fan you seem to over used that excuse for the Mets failures.

          So only those games that a healthy Beckett won counts, but not the ones he lost. You’re STUPID!!!. You’re on the assumption that every time BeckeTT lost to the Yankees was because he was injured.

          Stop with the lame excuses & your crying, you’re a grown man, act like one.

          I don’t need to look up spanked in the ’03 WS, they beat BeckeTT, 6-1 in game 3. Just goes to show how much you know. BeckeTT name to fame came in game 6 when he beat them 2-0, other than that Mets fan.

          The Yankees have BeckeTT’s number, just look up his career E.R.A against the Yankees, but you wouldn’t know that being that you’re a Mets fan.

          What do they know about baseball, just look who you root for as a fan. LOL, LOl.

          Stick with the loser Mets, you know nothing about the Red Sox and especially the Yankees.

          • JK

            He hasn’t dominated every game. No one does. As of August 31, he was 4-0, 1.85 ERA vs Yanks in 2011.

        • ....

          by the way, nice job Valentine did against the Yankees in the 2000 WS. I’m sure you will have some lame *ss excuse on why the Mets got SPANKED!!

          You are a typical Mets fan, full of excuses with no foundation.

          • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

            No, you’re a typical Yankees fan – all tunnel vision, no actual knowledge or appreciation for the game of baseball. Why is it so hard to accept that a pitcher might actually be good against the Yankees? Last I checked it didn’t matter – the Yanks weren’t the ones to take down Boston in ’11 anyway. Are you afraid of something?

            I make no excuses for the Mets’ awful play in the 2000 World Series. That was amateur hour right there. If you actually read my comment, every allegation I made was well-founded – on the other hand, as Jason so astutely pointed out, your refutations (I hope that’s a word) and allegations are all either unfounded or based on selective evidence. The game is called baseball, not Yankeeball. Sorry to shock you.

            • JK

              Honestly, Jonas, I’m not sure what he – or is “….” gender neutral? – so upset about. The assertion that a great pitcher has pitched some great games against the Yankees is hardly inaccurate or inane. If he goes 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA vs NY last year – and threw a World Series clinching shutout AT YANKEE STADIUM in 2003 – what’s so offensive about recalling it?

              I hate Beckett. I hate David Ortiz (the only juicer in the steroid era who has gotten a complete pass from the press). I hate the Red Sox. I hate Boston. I hate New England. I don’t consider Massachusetts part of the United States. But I can’t deny that Beckett has owned us a few times. What exactly are we arguing here?

              • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

                I don’t know anymore, man. The original comment was that Bobby V should be able to have success against the Yankees with his loaded Sox roster if he was able to beat them with guys like Glendon Rusch and Steve Trachsel. … seemingly took much exception to the allegation that either Rusch or Trachsel ever beat the Yankees, and no doubt has taken exception to your mention of Beckett’s record against the Yanks in 2011. It seems he’d prefer to believe the Yankees have never lost. Shame. So that’s how we got here, I guess.

  • nycanes

    Though I am a fan of baseball, I will admit to my lack of knowledge of the MLB. I reserve my attention for Yankee Universe. Having said that, I like Bobby Valentine. I liked him even more when he was a MET. I hope to love him as a BoSox

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