Shots of a wistful Bobby Valentine have become increasingly common during the trying 2012 Red Sox season.
All around Boston Red Sox nation, everyone should be standing up and applauding manager Bobby Valentine.
Salute him not because of his interviewing skills, maturity or ability to bond with his players. No, we must honor him because he has managed to yet again do something this team has needed desperately since April: He has diverted fans’ attention from the atrocious product on the field.
It is for this reason that the manager to whose name the adjective “embattled” might as well be legally added should be allowed to at the very least finish out the 2012 season.
If you thought Bobby V couldn’t possibly be a greater distraction to the Red Sox than he had already become, his explosion during an interview Wednesday on WEEI proved you wrong. Calling his season “miserable” and threatening to punch host Glenn Ordway, Valentine actually provided some refreshing candor in a season full of spin from the organization.
It seems to be a foregone conclusion at this point that Valentine will be gone at the end of the season. Any time someone receives a “vote of confidence” from management (as Valentine did in early August), that generally means a firing is not far behind.
Since that vote of confidence, the Sox are 8-20. Boston GM Ben Cherington was likely not feeling so confident yesterday when he met with Valentine to discuss the WEEI incident, according to The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo.
At this point, though, what could Cherington really tell Valentine that would have any sort of impact? Don’t do that again? Stop being a distraction?
Given the fact that the team is on pace for its worst finish in 20 years, maybe any kind of distraction should be welcomed.
When your starting lineup consists of three regulars (Ryan Kalish, Ryan Lavarnway and Jose Iglesias) who are hitting a combined .179 and another three (Scott Podsednik, Pedro Ciriaco and Mauro Gomez) who spent large chunks of this season in Triple-A, you need all the distraction you can find.
Valentine can certainly provide that. Whether he is inadvertently posing for hilarious pictures, arriving a bit tardily for games or simply teaching his young players the finer points of sarcasm, Bobby V commands fan and media attention like no manager in Red Sox history.
Every day that more hand-wringing about Valentine’s job status takes place likewise inches the Sox one day closer to the end of this horrible campaign. As the focus shifts to next year, everyone will surely wonder whether Valentine will be brought back.
The question, though, is if he would even want to return.
When asked on Wednesday if he would be back next season, Valentine said, "I want to do whatever I can do to wake up every morning and do the best that I can do at whatever it is that I choose to do.” These are not the comments of someone eager to continue in his current capacity as manager.
When asked if he would choose to manage the team, he said, “If that’s what I am asked to do, that’s what I'm going to get paid to do.”
Should Bobby V be fired before the regular season ends?
While some would say that this means he does want to come back, you’re forgetting one key point: He is contractually obligated to be in Boston next year. He isn’t choosing to be with the team so much as he is bound to be with it.
As for 2012, though, the team is obviously going to continue to struggle as it finishes out the last three-plus weeks of the season. The Red Sox just finished a 1-8 road trip during which they averaged scoring 2.3 runs per game.
Quite simply, they’re hard to watch.
Continuing the Bobby V sideshow through the rest of this season would provide fans a welcome respite from the team’s uninspired, moribund on-field performance.