For a smart guy, Bobby Valentine can sure say some stupid things.
That’s nothing new for the veteran skipper, but the tendency has become glaringly apparent this year in his new managerial gig with the Red Sox.
In fact, Valentine’s most common meal during his time in Boston has probably been his own foot. An embarrassing string of public comments and private grumblings has pointed to tension between Valentine and, well, pretty much everybody involved with Red Sox baseball.
First came the media-facilitated debate between Valentine and newly-minted GM Ben Cherington about the role of Daniel Bard and the development of shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias.
Valentine called the reports of a rift between the two “lazy journalism,” saying, “I think that’s an easy story to write. It has no validity. Absolutely none.”
It might be easy to chalk-up rumors of Valentine’s divisive standing in the clubhouse to Boston’s notorious gossip mill if Bobby hadn’t thrown resident grinder and fan-favorite Kevin Youkilis under the bus shortly thereafter.
On April 15th, Valentine spoke with Joe Amorosino of WHDH-TV and publicly questioned Youkilis’ physical and emotional investment in the game. For a dirt dog like Youk already experiencing a frustrating season, the comment was way over the line.
Their relationship soured and the rest is history: Youkilis returned this week to Fenway, but he’s sporting different colored Sox. Youkilis was the recipient of a hearty ovation Monday where Bobby V mostly hears boos.
Yet, like a petulant child, he still placed the blame squarely on Youkilis this week, saying the third baseman "didn't want to get over" the earlier comments.
Can you blame him, Bobby?
Valentine’s glib personality hasn’t inspired a lot of love amongst other Red Sox coaches either, according to reports.
ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes has suggested that pitching coach Bob McClure and bullpen coach Gary Tuck, in particular, have been at odds with the new skipper and keep communication with him to a minimum.
According to the same story, David Ortiz’ recent declaration of support for Valentine was nothing more than a smokescreen for a clubhouse that has all but tuned out the manager already.
Let’s review: so far, Valentine has reportedly fought with his general manager, lost his players and alienated his assistant coaches. The egoistic manager seems to be running out of friends, and fast.
That’s why merely gaining a postseason berth might not be enough for fans fed up with the malaise that has fallen over Fenway since last September.
It may not be fair to expect Valentine to turn the momentum around so quickly, but unfortunately for him, the only "fair" that matters in baseball is the area between the white chalk lines.