Remember Bobby Valentine? The 2012 Boston Red Sox manager who was able to destroy Red Sox Nation in only one season? He was able to make several players “disappear” (Carl Crawford, Kelly Shoppach, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett) and his fight with Mr. Red Sox Kevin Youkilis is one reason why Youkilis is now a New York Yankee. Valentine was never afraid to speak his mind, even joking about punching radio hosts in Boston. Though he had to deal with injuries throughout the year, the way he would bad mouth players on the radio probably played a huge factor in the reason why he was fired released by the Red Sox after the season ended. The Red Sox ended the season 69-93, the worst in 46 years and are predicted to have trouble selling tickets this year, according to the Red Sox President.
Well, Valentine has moved on with his life and was hired as the Sacred Heart University Athletic Director. Sacred Heart University is in Fairfield, Connecticut, about 20 miles away from Stamford where Valentine grew up. On Tuesday, February 26, there will be an official news conference to introduce Valentine, who takes over the position in July. “This is what I do. I accept challenges, and I enjoy life. And to hell with public perception.” O Valentine, he still has that lovely mouth.
On April 20th, 2012 the Boston Red Sox celebrated Fenway Park’s 100th birthday. Over 200 former players, players, coaches, managers returned to Fenway Park to celebrate this special occasion; but after the game, no one except for the New York Yankees was smiling. After all, the Yankees just beat the Red Sox 6-2 on Fenway’s birthday. This was a much different outcome from what happened 100 years ago when the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Highlanders (renamed the Yankees). But that was 100 years ago; the Titanic sunk 100 years and things have changed a lot since then. Though in reality, most of the changes to the Red Sox happened within the past year.
A little more than a year ago, the Red Sox were predicted to win the A.L. East and the World Series after signing 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez (7-year, $154 million) and outfielder Carl Crawford (7-year, $142 million). But due to injuries, pitching woes, lack of hitting, and the fact that money can’t buy everything, the Red Sox failed to live up to the expectations. Everyone knows how the Red Sox were 9 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays in the beginning of September and failed to make it to the playoffs. Everyone knows how Red Sox manager Terry Francona was blamed for the loss and after being embarrassed by talks of family problems and pain medication addiction (leaked from someone within the Red Sox organization), he retired from coaching. And everyone knows that the Red Sox pitchers ate fried chicken and drank beer during games that they were not pitching. But no one knew what was going to happen to the Red Sox in 2012. Would they be able to rebuild Red Sox Nation or burn it even farther into the ground?
Well so far, Red Sox Nation is still not in business. The Red Sox started the season with a few injuries, including Crawford (recovering from left wrist surgery and inflammation in the left shoulder), and pitchers John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Then in the 2nd week of the season, Jacoby Ellsbury slid into Rays’ player Reid Brignac in an attempt to break up a double-play. He might be out with a shoulder injury until June. Besides the injuries, the Red Sox have not been off to a great start on the road. In the first series against the Detroit Tigers, the Red Sox lost all the games, including a 10-0 lost and a 13-12 lost in extra innings. In Toronto, the Red Sox lost 2 games to the Blue Jays and in Texas, the Red Sox lost 18-3 against the Rangers. Thus, it was not surprising when the Red Sox returned home that some of the Red Sox were actually booed by their fans (new manager Bobby Valentine and pitcher Josh Beckett).
The home opener brought hope to the Red Sox after they beat the Rays 3 out of 4 games, only losing the game on Patriot’s Day. Their 3-game winning spree was overshadowed by Valentine’s comments about Kevin Youkilis. On Sunday, Valentine said that Youkilis was not as emotionally or physically into the game as he used to be. Youkilis confronted the new manager, who apologized, and fellow teammate Dustin Pedroia told the media that he and the team has Youkilis’ back. Already, Valentine was creating enemies with the fans and players.
On Fenway Park’s 100th birthday, the Red Sox lost to the Yankees 6-2. Though it was embarrassing for the Red Sox, it only got worse on Saturday. The day after the big celebration, the Red Sox were seeking revenge against the Yankees. After 5 innings of baseball, the Red Sox were winning 9-0. After a single homerun by Mark Teixeira in the 6th, the Red Sox were still winning 9-1 when the Yankees entered the 7th inning. Red Sox relief pitcher Vicente Padilla managed to load the bases and gave up a grand slam to Nick Swisher. The next relief pitcher Matt Albers gave up a 3-run homer to Teixeria. After the 7th inning, the Yankees had scored 7 runs and now the Red Sox only led 9-8. In the 8th inning, the Yankees managed to score 7 more runs. Somehow, the Red Sox bullpen managed to give up 14 runs in 2 innings!
So what is going to happened to the Boston Red Sox? Well since September of last year, they have lost 28 out of 39 games. They are currently in last place in the A.L. East and the only team worse than them in the A.L. is the Kansas City Royals. Youkilis left today’s game with some kind of soreness, further adding to the injury problems for Boston. The Red Sox starters currently have a 6.15 ERA, one of the worst in baseball. Let’s just say no one in Boston will be singing “Sweet Caroline” for a while.
The Boston Red Sox should be celebrating; after all, they ended an early season disaster by winning 3 out of 4 games against A.L. East rivals the Tampa Bay Rays. Instead, they are questioning the odd comments from their new manager, Bobby Valentine. On Sunday morning at his weekly interview at WHDH-TV’s Sports Xtra, Valentine was asked about Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis is off to another slow start after having his worst career year in 2011, one that was plagued by injuries. Youkilis is currently batting .200 with 8 strike outs, 3 RBIs, and 6 hits. Valentine said “I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason. But (on Saturday) it seemed, you know, he’s seeing the ball well, got those two walks, got his on-base percentage up higher than his batting average, which is always a good thing, and he’ll move on from there.” It was strange of Valentine to question Youkilis’ emotions since at time he seems to be too emotionally involved in the game; practically dancing at his at-bats and throwing helmets in anger. Also, the interview did not help Valentine gain new fans. Valentine was already booed on opening day at Fenway Park due to the Red Sox’s slow start. When the interview aired Sunday night, baseball fans all over the country began to question why a new manager would bad mouth one of the Red Sox’s star players.
On Monday morning, Youkilis confronted Valentine about his comments. This actually surprised Valentine, he was just expecting Youkilis to update him about his groin injury (Youkilis would miss Monday’s game because of a minor groin injury). What exactly was said we may never know, but Valentine claims he apologized, though he does not know if Youkilis accepted his apology. Valentine attempted to explain his bizarre comment before Monday’s game, saying “I should have been more specific. Physical is about your swing, emotional is about not being happy when he doesn’t hit a ball off the wall,” but no one is buying it. Some have theorized that Valentine is attempting to unite the Red Sox as a family. Dustin Pedroia stated that he is confused by Valentine’s comments, but he and the rest of the team have Youkilis’ back. It is no secret that the Red Sox clubhouse has had an adverse feeling since there was at least one rat in the bunch telling secrets to the media last fall. Valentine could also have been attempting to motivate Youkilis, but the real reason why Valentine would throw Youkilis under the bus is still a mystery. Criticizing a player is a strange way to build a family.
On Monday, Terry Francona, former Red Sox manager and current ESPN analyst, was asked about his experience with Youkilis. Francona says at first, the Red Sox organization thought Youkilis was too emotional and they tried to calm him down, but they realized that was just who he was. Though he sometimes went back to the dugout and threw a helmet down in anger, he quickly moved on from his bad at-bat. Francona also commented that each manager is different and has his own way of handling things. I bet the Red Sox players are regretting all the chicken they ate and all the beer they drank since their poor sportsmanship helped kick Francona out of Boston. Valentine is no Francona as the Red Sox players are realizing. The Red Sox players were already worried that Bobby Valentine would make “it all about Bobby,” since he is known for making odd comments. Now they have to worry which player will be publicly criticized. Though Valentine tried to do damage control by explaining he just meant to talk about Youkilis’ batting, he pretty much lost all the Red Sox fans that he gained by beating the Rays. Valentine could either help unite the Red Sox by leading them to the playoffs, or he could tear Red Sox nation down either further by creating a hostile environment.
Quotes are from Sports Illustrated