Well, say hello to our new manager: Bobby Valentine. I seriously can not believe this is happening. If you told me when Tito left that Bobby V. would be his replacement, I think I seriously would have looked at you like you were literally clinically insane. I hope he doesn’t manage like he broadcasts, that’s for sure. It’s either going to be really good or really bad; with Bobby V., there is no in-between.
We interviewed six candidates, and Valentine was obviously the most experienced. He managed the Rangers from 1986-1992 and the Mets from 1996-2002 and hasn’t managed since. He’s sixty-one years old, he’s spent time in Japan twice, and he’s been killing time by working as an analyst for ESPN. His managerial winning percentage is .510; as a benchmark, Tito’s was .529. He professes to be open-minded, and he is touted as a brilliant strategist.
Now down to the nitty-gritty. In fifteen seasons of managing, although he staged quite the turnaround in New York and made it deep into the postseason, appeared in the World Series only once. He functions like he’s a one-man show and is something of a know-it-all by his own admission. On a good day, he could run a ballclub like a Navy Seal team, but on a bad day, he’s a conniver and a manipulator, and he’ll explode on players publicly yet passively by going to the press, and the media will be left with the tall task of decoding it, which of course we know they all thoroughly enjoy. He’s got a personality, and he isn’t afraid to show it to anyone who’ll look or listen. Do we want a manager like this for a team that apparently includes some players who have this same exact problem? It’s unclear to say the least, as is whether Valentine is even remotely equipped to provide the kind of constructive leadership that prevents chicken-eating and beer-drinking in the clubhouse since, when he left the Mets in 2002, that team was doing things that make chicken-eating and beer-drinking seem like chores. Fundamentally, we were all told that this managerial search was dragging on and on and on because it was important to find the right fit. This implies that personality is crucial, and to me it seems unlikely that someone of Valentine’s experience and age would somehow undergo a drastic personality change that would eliminate these aspects of his character that seem, at least superficially, to be at odds with the manager we’ve all been picturing in the meantime.
And how about the fact that it seems like Larry completely overruled, overshadowed, and overpowered Ben on this? Of course there’s really no way to know since none of us were actually there. But it is true that, initially, Ben wanted to hire Sveum. I am pretty sure, therefore, that Sveum would have been a great manager in Boston. And I think he got a pretty significant vote of confidence when Theo hired Sveum instead. As I’ve already discussed, Ben introduced Sveum to the brass; the brass introduced Valentine to Ben. So Larry needs to make absolutely sure that he didn’t just mess up royally, because if that happens, the team will be terrible, Red Sox Nation and I will be exceptionally infuriated, and Ben will earn a well-deserved opportunity to say, “I told you so.” Did I mention that Red Sox Nation and I would be exceptionally infuriated? There is absolutely no margin for error here. Larry has his manager. Now it’s time for him to step back and let Ben do his job.
Here’s something we can all agree on: this is the equivalent of a contract year for Valentine in terms of where he is in his career. This is the end of the road. After this, I think we can pretty much all agree that it’s over for him, no matter which way it goes. So it’s in his best interest to go out with a positive bang, which is obviously fine by me, if I do say so myself. He is number forty-four in our long and illustrious history. He has a chance to leave his mark. All he has to do is come close to what Tito did, both in the clubhouse and on the field, and he’ll already work out infinitely better than we all thought he would. He also has to remember that, you know, this is Boston we’re talking about. He’s not in Queens anymore. We’re used to certain standards here, standards of on-the-field performance and off-the-field conduct, and not everything he did or didn’t do in Flushing is going to fly in our town.
So here’s what I’m saying. I’m saying that I’m glad to hear that, on Thursday’s press conference, he said that he’s honored, humbled, and excited to be our manager. Congratulations, Bobby V., and welcome to Boston. We’re glad to have you because, well, we need a manager and we’ve been told you’re a good fit. So we look forward to you showing us that you’re a good fit by adapting to your new setting and applying your inarguable shrewdness. Just do us all a favor and don’t forget where you are. Also, you’ve got some big shoes to fill, so I suggest you get cracking. Get to work, and when spring rolls around, get out there and do us proud!
And now that we have our manager, for better or worse, we can start focusing on our plethora of other issues. It’s almost certain that the front office was waiting to hire the manager before going after players since the manager has some input into who he wants and doesn’t want, although I feel strongly that something at some point this offseason should be Ben’s decision and Ben’s alone so that he can get a jump-start on his newfound, well-deserved authority. Valentine professes to love sabermetrics, as do we all, so that’s a good start. Look for Michael Cuddyer to be on the radar. Papi is already very much on the radar; Valentine went down to the Dominican Republic to participate in his charity golf event and, oh, by the way, tell him to sign with us.
DeMarlo Hale may be hired by Baltimore as their third base coach, so we may have to add that to our ever-growing list. Another hire comes in, another hire goes out. Wake wants to pitch one more year, and Pedro Martinez plans to announce his retirement officially, as opposed to his unofficial retirement in which he has been living for the past three years.
In other news, the Pats bested the Eagles, 38-20. The B’s beat the Leafs twice this past week. That means we’re undefeated against Toronto this year. Congratulations to Zdeno Chara on his well-deserved receipt of the Champion’s Award, which honors the work he’s done with Children’s Hospital Boston.