I don’t mean that headline to be too critical. I’m not a hypocrite here. The media person in me really dislikes it when managers are boring by-the-book guys who seem to be animated by nothing. So I’m certainly not going to hate on Bobby Valentine for making life interesting. And interesting he has made it.
For example, on Monday he got into a little thing with Ozzie Guillen during a Marlins-Red Sox game. Guillen was ejected. Valentine mockingly waved bye-bye to him from the dugout. After the game, Guillen was asked about it. He said he hadn’t seen it, but that if he he had he would’ve told Valentine to “go f*** himself.” This led to Valentine to respond last night, saying about Guillen, “isn’t that his standard comment on everything?”
Last night, apparently, Valentine over-managed a bit during the first inning of a Yankees-Red Sox game, his first as Boston’s manager. With runners on second and third, he moved his infield back, appearing — as would make sense in the first inning of a spring training game — to be conceding a run. But then he had the infielders rush in when the pitcher delivered the ball. This led to YES announcer Lou Piniella to criticize Valentine for being showy.
Like I said: I find this sort of thing — petty personal dustups and unconventional managing that causes media folks to chatter — all kinds of fun on a personal level. These sorts of things fill the space between games, make our comments section fun and keep us from getting bored by too many stone-faced guys talking and managing as if they were programmed.
I can’t say, however, that everyone will feel that way. Indeed, if the Red Sox don’t win and win a lot, Valentine’s schtick is gonna be held up as a reason for it, justified or not. He’ll be a distraction according to some. He will be unfavorably compared to the mostly no-nonsense Terry Francona.
It’s for this reason that I have always been somewhat skeptical of the Valentine hiring. He’s a smart guy. He has had success. I think he can be successful in Boston too. But if the Sox do anything other than win the division, isn’t he the easiest target going?
And hasn’t the Boston media shown in the wake of the 2011 collapse and a million other examples before it that, if there’s an easy target, they’re gonna open with both barrels blazing?