Manny Being Manny always came with its share of smiles and hugs, something which cannot be said about Bobby Being Bobby.
While it may feel like just yesterday, it was over four years ago that the Boston Red Sox finally parted ways with slugger Manny Ramirez, a potential Hall-of-Famer whose eccentricity begat the now-infamous phrase “Manny Being Manny.”
After the 2012 season, Sox fans have found a new figure whose behavior often defies explanation: manager Bobby Valentine.
A series of strange quotes mixed with erratic behavior from the first year manager has made him the new standard bearer in vexing Boston sports figures.
However, where Manny Being Manny was endearing and light-hearted, Bobby Being Bobby is painful and generally upsetting. Manny’s shenanigans were (mostly) harmless and came from his desire to have fun; Bobby’s actions, while not outright sinister, are at the very least a bit more cerebral.
Here are 10 reasons why this new era of Bobby Being Bobby is substantially worse than Manny Being Manny:
This may seem pretty obvious, but the biggest difference between Bobby and Manny is that Ramirez was actually on the field impacting games.
While the importance of a manager can be debated ad nauseam, one thing we can all agree on, is that the players have a much greater impact on the game than their manager.
A move here or there might decide a game, but ultimately the result always comes down to the players’ ability to execute.
When someone in such a small place of power (like Valentine) tries to assume a larger role, it rings hollow, because everyone knows how little influence he truly has over the team’s fortunes.
With the exception of the incident with traveling secretary Jack McCormick, Ramirez’s hi-jinx tended to be victimless and without any ill-intent. Valentine, on the other hand, has made a name for himself this season by insulting or disrespecting others.
It’s one thing to try to encourage players by getting them a bit worked up, but an entire other thing to publicly question them for no apparent reason.
Most books on motivational tactics would not offer belittling people as the most effective technique to get them to perform better.
This sort of intentional malice characterizes Bobby Being Bobby as a man simply being bitter and spiteful.
Ultimately, the palatability of Manny Being Manny and Bobby Being Bobby comes down to the same thing: wins.
This is where the two sharply diverge.
In Ramirez’s eight seasons in Boston, the team went a combined 706-536, a robust .568 winning percentage. While it has only been one season, the Sox are an atrocious 69-87 (.442) under Valentine.
Even though Manny’s antics caused the organization and its fans to chafe at times, the results on-field were enough to overlook many of the left fielder’s faults. The same cannot be said for Valentine.
Sometimes, insanity is earned.
Manny Ramirez most certainly did that.
Manny played seven and a half seasons in Boston, and in that time clubbed 274 home runs, batted .312 and posted a .999 OPS. He was an All-Star every single season and finished in the top-10 in MVP voting five times.
He was clutch throughout his career, batting .313 and hitting 108 home runs in “high leverage” situations. His walk-off home run against the Angels in the 2007 playoffs became an iconic moment in Red Sox history.
With numbers like that, Manny Being Manny was more than acceptable.
Valentine, with his constant media appearances and microphone hogging, does a wonderful job diverting attention away from the train wreck on the field.
Unfortunately, he creates just as many messes off the field.
Bobby Being Bobby almost always means that somebody is going to be offended without provocation, and it would be naïve to suggest that Valentine doesn’t know exactly what he is doing each time he opens his mouth.
This sort of calculated insanity should be grossly offensive to fans, who do not invest their time and money to watch the manager.
Even though he occupied a ton of the media’s attention and behaved erratically at best, Manny was still just one small part of a big team. He was a vital part, certainly, but ultimately the fate of the team did not rest solely upon his performance.
On a 25 man roster each player needs to do his part, but if one person struggles there are 24 backups there to support him. When Manny struggled, there were players like Nomar Garciaparra and David Ortiz ready to pick up the offensive slack.
Manny’s antics gave the team personality, but did not solely define them. In the team’s best years, he was a quirky cog in the machine rather than the dominant clubhouse force.
On the other hand…
The manager is supposed to be the boss, the one who (gasp!) manages the personalities in the clubhouse and maintains harmony even in trying times. Although he reports to management, he is the final authority on the clubhouse and dealing with the personnel.
When that manager himself becomes a distraction, it allows for chaos to reign over the entire team.
Checks and balances are what help stabilize a team; for every crazy player like Manny, there were veterans like Jason Varitek to give the team balance.
With Bobby Valentine, there is nobody in place to counteract his bizarre behavior, and the result is a clubhouse that was termed “toxic” by ESPN’s Buster Olney.
The first half of 2008 notwithstanding, Manny Ramirez’s tenure in Boston was almost entirely a love-fest.
He was frequently serenaded with “Manny!” chants from the Fenway Park crowd, and his at-bats were constantly appointment television. His ability to get on hot streaks where he could hit seemingly anything and his happy-go-lucky personality made him a fan favorite across Red Sox Nation.
Fans wore his jersey and cheered him at every turn. Manny Being Manny even spawned a fan website, complete with signature merchandise.
Bobby Valentine does not share the same adulation around New England that Manny had.
Valentine hasn’t won anything here, nor does he bring with him a sterling track record of success (zero division titles in 16 MLB seasons). When combined with his bluster, his checkered professional past already puts him at a disadvantage with Sox fans.
When considering that the man he replaced (Terry Francona) was arguably the greatest manager in the history of the franchise and fans didn’t really want Valentine in the first place, he never really had a chance here to begin with.
However, the Bobby Being Bobby show has done him no favors, either.
When the team is struggling, sometimes it is best to just be quiet.
With Manny, the attention he brought on himself was merely a byproduct of his strange code of behavior. Fans never got the impression that he was doing it intentionally.
With Bobby Being Bobby, the whole tired act reeks of premeditation.
Valentine, obviously, fancies himself to be a pretty smart fellow. And who could blame him? The man invented the wrap.
However, his routine has become stunningly predictable: say something controversial without provocation, let it simmer for a day, issue a lame apology with a “clarification” of some kind, repeat. It’s calculated and downright formulaic.
An intentional pot-stirrer has no place in a position of leadership, and indeed grates on everyone associated with the team. There is nothing fun or light-hearted about it.
Bobby Being Bobby is simply an unnecessary nuisance.