Bobby Valentine did a hell of a job managing the 2012 Boston Red Sox to a 69-93 record—at least according to him.
Speaking at a press conference signaling his appointment as the new athletics director at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, Valentine spoke openly about his last job and his new appointment.
According to the Connecticut Post's William S. Paxton, Sacred Heart’s senior vice president for intercollegiate athletics and student affairs, Jim Barquinero, was ebullient about his new hire, proclaiming, “It's a significant and wonderful moment for Sacred Heart University. Bobby's a leader and brings great energy.”
During the conference, Valentine was asked a number of questions, including if he thought his one season managing the Red Sox was a failure. He defiantly refuted that notion to WEEI’s Jerry Spar, saying, "I thought I did a hell of a job in Boston. I thought what had to be done there was done except for winning a pennant. But Connie Mack wasn’t going to win with that team."
There are many who might disagree with Valentine’s claim, as he seemed to be in the middle of much of last year’s negativity. Additionally, managers are rarely hired to bring in second-division teams, so winning a pennant should always be expected.
It may also be worth pointing out to Valentine that Mack, while a Hall of Fame manager, also had a career losing record, and his 3,948 losses are the most in baseball history.
The Red Sox actually had a winning record last year through June, but the wheels fell off after that, and they finished the season on a 28-56 run. Boston's 69-93 mark was the team’s worst record since 1966.
It would be unfair to pin the entire Red Sox collapse on Valentine, as there were a number of injuries and several star players were shipped off in one of the largest trades in history.
However, Valentine did little to endear himself to the players or fans, displaying a contrary personality. He had a number of key missteps.
Last April, Valentine announced to the press that popular veteran third baseman Kevin Youkilis wasn’t “as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason.” The comments created quite a stir in Boston and eventually led to the popular player being traded to the Chicago White Sox later in the season.
Valentine became so unpopular with Red Sox players that Yahoo! Sport’s Jeff Passan reported a large veteran contingency made extensive complaints to team owners in a surprise meeting.
Passan also wrote Valentine became the butt of jokes in the clubhouse, citing Dustin Pedroia taking unflattering pictures of the sleeping manager with his cell phone and passing them around to teammates.
After the season ended and he was fired, Valentine continued to run afoul of Boston players. He appeared on NBC Sports Network’s Costas Tonight for an interview with Bob Costas and blasted designated hitter David Ortiz, who missed most of the second half of the season with an injured heel.
The Providence Journal's Tim Britton transcribed the interview and quoted the manager as believing Ortiz quit on the team:
David Ortiz came back after spending about six weeks on the disabled list and we thought it was only going to be a week. He got two hits the first two times up, drove in a couple runs; we were off to the races. Then he realized that this trade meant that we're not going to run this race and we're not even going to finish the race properly and he decided not to play anymore. I think at that time it was all downhill from there.
Valentine’s repeated clashes with players made some wonder if he liked the attention, a question that carried over to the press conference about his new job.
When he was asked if his new position was a joke, according to Paxton, Valentine earnestly replied, “If it's a joke, it's an inside joke. I'm very serious about everything I do in my life. I deal with passion and commitment and I deal with excellence.”
In a previous interview with the Connecticut Post's Dave Ruden, Valentine became upset when asked if he took the Sacred Heart job for the publicity, snapping, “Why would I need the publicity? I wouldn't understand the question and I wouldn't dignify it with an answer.”
About to enter a new chapter in his life, Valentine was given a chance to stop making inflammatory comments.
When asked by the Boston Herald's Steve Buckley to talk about the negative things Boston players have said about him this spring, the former manager responded, “I don’t want to comment on stupid things that stupid people say. I’m not going to comment on any of that.”
It appears old habits do indeed die hard.
Statistics via Baseball-Reference.