Embattled Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, while failing to deliver many wins, has at least given plenty of memorable quotes.
Bobby Valentine’s first year as manager of the Boston Red Sox has been a harrowing journey for all involved. Replete with gaffes, misfires and general ineptitude, the 2012 season has been one fans likely won’t soon forget.
The eminently quotable manager has, despite the utter lack of compelling material on the field, continued to make headlines. He has lived up to his reputation as a man who never met a microphone he didn’t like.
Having labeled the Boston media “ever-present” on the Dan Patrick Show back in July, Valentine seemingly realizes that maybe it is best to sometimes keep his mouth shut. Obviously, this type of restraint is simply not in his DNA.
He is a man who has no problem putting his emotions on display, and in doing so has set one ignominious record for Sox managers: more ejections in a season (six) than anyone in the history of the franchise (via RedSox.com).
Despite the team’s pitiful performance this year (69-85 with eight games to go), fans will at least have a year’s worth of Valentine quotes to fondly reflect upon.
Sometimes delusional, sometimes hilarious but always entertaining, here are the top 10 quotes from Bobby V this year.
“It shows the right idea…right now you’re looking for guys who are in good shape and guys who have the right attitude. It seems like especially at the top we have Josh Beckett.” —2/20/12 (via NESN)
Particularly in hindsight, this praise of Josh Beckett is pretty hilarious. It was not a good final year in Boston for the prickly right-hander, who punctuated a controversial September of 2011 with a very poor effort in 2012.
When he was finally shipped out of town, it marked the end of an extremely tumultuous Red Sox career. While he may not have known the pitcher personally and thus can be partially excused, Valentine was quite far off in his assessment of Beckett’s attitude.
This obliviousness was indeed a sign of things to come.
“We’re going to win a lot of games this last month.” —9/1/12 (via Boston.com)
Do seven wins count as “a lot?”
Granted, the month isn’t over yet, but the Sox are virtually assured of yet another losing month to cap off this horrible season. Indeed, they will have had a .500 record or worse in four of the season’s six months.
It is certainly reasonable of the manager to project an air of optimism about his team, but statements like this one lack any credibility. Quite simply, the Red Sox's Triple-A lineup is not going to win “a lot of games” against MLB competition.
“Is that what it says on the lineup? What the [expletive]? Switch it up. Who knows? Maybe it will look good. I haven’t seen it.” —9/1/12 (via Boston.com)
While we can infer from his colorful language that the Sox skipper is a poet and does know it, admitting that he hadn’t seen the lineup card was probably not something a professional manager should be admitting after the lineup has been posted.
While Podsednik is not known for his power—he has slugged .380 and hit 42 home runs in 11 MLB seasons—the Sox did lose the previous day by the narrow margin of 20-2. So making a change just for change’s sake wasn’t a ridiculous move. Flippantly admitting ignorance, however, is not something a winning team’s manager would ever do.
For the record, the Sox lost that game 7-1 and Podsednik went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, so perhaps going forward Bobby V should look at his lineup card.
“Tough to look at.” —9/20/12 (via ESPN)
While Valentine was referring to the bevy of walks Sox relievers gave up in one of their recent losses, this comment really serves as a reflection of the entire season.
The team has been horrendous, the players unlikable and management seemingly unaccountable. 2012 will undoubtedly go down as one of the darkest years for the Sox in decades, one that fans are hoping will soon be erased.
The few bright spots (Cody Ross, Clay Buchholz, among others) have all been overshadowed by the off-field distractions that carried over from 2011.
One would hope that, even if the team is less talented on paper than this year’s iteration, 2013 can’t possibly go any worse.
“I think we’re a playoff team, and I think we're going to be there before the season is over.” —8/8/12 (via NESN)
The day Valentine uttered these words that were the exact opposite of prophetic, the Sox were 55-57. Since then, they have gone 14-29. Neither of those marks will get a team to the playoffs.
It’s not as if the Sox were setting the world on fire when Valentine made those comments, either. They had just dropped five of their last seven games after a promising four-game winning streak against the Yankees and Tigers.
They went on to drop five of their next seven again and completely fall out of the race, ending any faint playoff aspirations their manager may have held.
“Nice inning, kid.” –6/16/12 (via WEEI.com)
When Valentine uttered these words to Will Middlebrooks after the rookie had a particularly rough inning in the field, he unwittingly set off a chain of events that only heightened the scrutiny surrounding the team.
The issue was not so much the sarcastic in-game comment itself, which while perhaps ill-advised was not malicious. Instead, the fact that a different player reported the incident to management behind Valentine’s back reflected a serious disconnect between the manager and his players.
Given how little respect it seems like the players had for Valentine in June, it’s no surprise that a month later they asked for a meeting in which they reportedly asked for him to be fired.
“If I were there right now, I’d punch you right in the mouth. Ha, ha. How's that sound? Sound like I checked out?” —9/5/12 (via ESPN)
While he surely is not the first local manager or coach to want to punch Boston radio host Glenn Ordway, Valentine may have been the first to have publicly expressed these sentiments.
Over the course of the entire interview (audio here, punch comment at 2:58), Valentine’s escalating agitation seems to indicate a man on the edge. And who could blame him?
While he has brought much of it on himself, the media scrutiny Valentine has been subjected to on a daily basis would drive anybody nuts. That the season has been so “lousy” only further burdens the manager’s already troubled mind.
It was only a matter of time before he started cracking.
“I don't think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason” —4/15/12 (via ESPN)
If this were a ranking of comments based on sheer stupidity, this would probably be No. 1. Valentine barely knew Youkilis and barely knew the team as a whole, yet he saw fit to go on TV and publicly scorn one of the team’s longest-tenured players.
Even though he soon backtracked, telling reporters that “the physical part of his swing is frustrating...I haven’t seen him break as many helmets as I saw him break on TV” and that he “totally apologized” to Youkilis once it became a big story.
The damage, however, was done.
Youkilis openly despised Valentine from that point forward and ultimately was traded away for essentially nothing. This incident set a tone for the entire year, one where players distrusted their manager and Valentine was perpetually performing damage control.
“This is the weakest roster we’ve ever had in September in the history of baseball. It could use help everywhere.” —9/14/12 (via ESPN)
While this author is no historian, having seen the team play in person several times this month, I can’t help but think Bobby V has a point with his comments. The Sox are terrible.
Nevertheless, the level of disrespect for the players and the organization these comments reflect is simply stunning, and for someone to publicly proclaim these thoughts would be a borderline fireable offense in almost any other profession.
In a recurring theme from this season, Valentine’s attempts at damage control (“that wasn’t meant to be a criticism of any players or anything in the organization…it’s a statement of fact because of the injuries and our Triple-A team in the playoffs”) were simply not enough.
Given the manager’s outlandish remarks, fans are completely justified in loudly questioning whether Valentine is still invested in the success of this team and belongs in charge.
“I think [the season] has been, you know, miserable, but I think it’s also been part of my life’s journey.” —9/5/12 (via ESPN)
Occupying the top spot on this list is the all-encompassing term for this 2012 Red Sox season: “miserable.”
The players have been miserable, the performances on the field have been miserable and as a result the fans have been miserable. Valentine has been at the center of all of it, saying and doing things that have left everyone scratching their heads.
While he may only last this one “miserable” season as Sox manager, it’s comforting to know that this is but one part of Bobby V’s “life’s journey.” This version of Valentine, sullen and embattled in every sense of the word, desperately needs a change of scenery to restore his normally ebullient demeanor.
While Sox fans may forever lament Valentine’s tenure as manager, they can at least thank him for one thing: inventing the wrap sandwich.