When Bobby Valentine was appointed Red Sox manager last December, he inherited a team that was fresh off the greatest collapse in baseball history. The Sox were in dire need of a manager who was willing to take the broken pieces of this battered team and build them up again.At the start, it looked as if Valentine had the experience and charisma necessary for this job, and a season gleaming with possibility lay ahead for the Red Sox and their hopeful fans.
This season turned out to be of equal, if not greater, disaster.
The team steadily dropped in the standings, and the constant refrain of “tomorrow is a new day, we’ll do better tomorrow” quickly fell on deaf ears. Fans have grown tired of excuses and tired of losing, and Bobby Valentine, even with all his charm and personality, has become the victim of the problem he was brought here to solve. He has become defensive when criticized and has not been the leader that was sorely needed to create a culture of winning for this team.
Valentine came to Boston to change the dysfunctional clubhouse atmosphere and be a figure of authority for the men who often act like boys, and while he did step up and ban alcohol in the clubhouse, he also added to the sour team chemistry by publicly insulting his players and, as a result, lost their respect before he could even fully earn it.
Valentine’s high stress level was apparent during a recent appearance on Boston’s WEEI when he threatened to punch radio show host Glen Ordway after Ordway asked the manager point-blank if he had “checked out” of the season. While Valentine spoke out later saying that his comments were all in jest, his “jokes” throughout the season, which seem to be attempts at making light of this bad situation, have done nothing but make Valentine look like the bad guy and have won him few fans in Boston.
Valentine took the helm with a background of disputes with MLB organizations. He has his way of running the show and it just so happens to clash with the way things are done in Boston, as Dustin Pedroia reminded him in April after Valentine made some negative comments to the media about Kevin Youkilis, claiming that Youkilis was not as “as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason,”
When Youkilis spoke to Valentine privately about the comment, Valentine was surprised that his player was so affected by what he had said and quickly apologized. Valentine should have realized that he was not doing the team any favors by making negative comments to the press about his players, especially not so early in the season when he was still in the process of earning respect from said players.
In the end, Bobby Valentine was not a good fit for Boston. It’s a shame that he could not become a respected leader in the clubhouse, but his way of doing things caused a great deal of damage this season. Valentine has failed simply because he was brought here to lead the Sox to a successful season, and this year was anything but a success.
While Valentine is not completely to blame because he was handed a team already riddled with problems, he failed to do his part to inspire his players to win. It was certainly never intended for them to have a losing season, and Valentine could have been more in tune with what the players needed from him as a manager and used that to form an understanding between them and create a more positive atmosphere in the clubhouse.
All in all, it would be best for the team if Valentine did not hang around for another season. If this team is ever going to put together some wins again, it is imperative that the front office own up to their mistake and admit that Valentine was not the best choice and find a manager more compatible with the Red Sox. Maybe one with a little bit more Terry Francona-esque respect with regards to confidentiality and a touch of Ron Gardenhire’s no-nonsense spitfire to keep the team in check.