This time, it's personal!
That's how Bobby Valentine sees the intense scrutiny he's received this season from the Boston press corps, according to what he told NESN's Tom Caron during a pregame interview before Friday night's (Sept. 7) game (as WEEI.com's Alex Speier transcribed):
It's always been personal. All year, it's been personal.
But when you start dealing with integrity, start dealing with whether I'm a truthful person, whether I'm going to give a full day's work, and then when it comes to dealing with my family and how much they mean to me or should mean to me, that's over the line, and I'm not going to take it here in the dugout and I won't take it on a radio or TV show, thank you very much.
The incident that Valentine is almost certainly referring to occurred on Aug. 31 before the Red Sox played at Oakland. As Speier explained, Valentine arrived at the ballpark less than three hours before game time. That's much later than a manager typically shows up to prepare for a game.
However, Valentine said he was picking his son up from the airport. As The Boston Globe reported, a Red Sox spokesperson said Valentine got caught in traffic driving back from San Francisco International Airport.
But Valentine bristled at the suggestion that he was late for work that night. He further objected to the implication that arriving later than usual meant that he had "checked out" for the season, as WEEI's Glenn Ordway asked him in an interview last Wednesday (Sept. 5).
If this was an isolated incident, Valentine's outrage would be understandable. No one likes having his or her work ethic questioned, especially when such scrutiny isn't justified.
But Valentine didn't account for his other strange behavior during that weekend in Oakland, as the Providence Journal's Brian MacPherson detailed.
After posting a lineup with Scott Podsednik—and his 42 career home runs in 11 major-league seasons—batting third on Aug. 31, Valentine said it was "just a mistake."
"Is that what it says on the lineup?," he added. "What the (expletive). Switch it up. Who knows? Maybe it will look good. I haven’t seen it.”
Following a loss that capped off a three-game sweep by the Athletics, Valentine was asked how difficult it had been to deal with a six-game losing streak.
"What difference does it make?" he responded.
This is what led to the line of questioning Valentine received about his work ethic and desire to remain manager of the Red Sox. The curiosity about him showing up late to the ballpark did not happen in a vacuum. Yet in Valentine's view, the Boston media was making it personal by even making such inquiries in the first place.
It was the latest example of Valentine bringing this kind of scrutiny upon himself. But if you ask him, he's the victim, not the perpetrator.
Valentine set the tense, ugly tone for this season when he questioned whether Kevin Youkilis was "physically or emotionally into the game." That drove a wedge between the manager and his players from early April on.
But when Youkilis was traded to the Chicago White Sox and returned to Fenway Park to play his former team, Valentine blamed Youkilis for the deterioration of their professional relationship. In Bobby V's view, Youkilis "made a big issue out of" Valentine's remarks and "[never] wanted to get over it."
Who started that whole feud in the first place?
Later in his interview with Caron, Valentine said, "I don't think it's personal with a lot of managers. But with me, there's guys with agendas and they've made it personal, but who cares?"
However, other managers don't air out clubhouse dirty laundry to the press. Valentine told reporters that backup catcher Kelly Shoppach had complained about his playing time. How many managers would out his players like that and embarrass them, even if they didn't get along?
One more remark from Caron's interview in which Valentine passed the buck was when he attributed the Red Sox's 1-8 road trip to a roster that "just played up to our talent. A lot of times, we were just a little short."
Does that sound like a shot at general manager Ben Cherington? Hey, don't blame me—my boss traded everybody!
To be fair, Boston's West Coast road trip was brutal, with series against the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A's and Seattle Mariners. And Valentine doesn't have the team he had before Aug. 25, especially with the injuries the team continues to struggle with. But the manager also lost his team months ago and is paying for that now.
If you listen to Valentine, none of the disaster that is the 2012 Boston Red Sox is his fault. The players hated him. Guys have been hurt all season. The GM traded his best players away. But it all still would have been OK if the Boston media wasn't out to get him.
Valentine can keep playing that violin through the remaining three weeks of the season, and maybe he'll keep playing it long after the Red Sox have dismissed him. But it's a tune no one wants to hear anymore, and Valentine should take it off his set list.
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