Bill Buckner could join Bobby Valentine’s staff in Boston

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The Red Sox have several coaches still on staff from Terry Francona’s tenure: hitting coach Dave Magadan, bench coach DeMarlo Hale, third base coach Tim Bogar and bullpen coach Gary Tuck.  Bobby Valentine could get rid of some of them. And there are a couple of other openings.  And one of the potential candidates to fill that opening is someone with some Red Sox experience:

One name that surfaced as a potential candidate was that of former Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner, who managed the Brockton Rox of the independent Can-Am League last season. “He’s been a friend for years,” Valentine said. “We played together with the Dodgers. We played together in the Dominican Republic. I’ve watched his kids grow up and I respect his every opinion in baseball and in worldly matters.”

Worth noting that friendship and “opinions in baseball and in worldly matters” is pretty much the job description for a bench coach.

I’m guessing if Buckner gets hired it will set off all kinds of “Buckner returns!” headlines and talk about Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.  But if it does, it’s phony and ignorant.  There have been no less than two and possibly many more instances of Buckner “returning to Boston” since then. He actually came  back to play his final 22 games in Boston in 1990.  He’s been a guest since then, throwing out first pitches and stuff. Every time it happens, someone pumps it up as Buckner’s “redemption” or a fan “reproachment” or something. I suppose after 50 times it may stop being news.

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

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In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.