Happy Valentine’s Day?

Posted: December 19, 2011 by ndbohlen in Mets, MLB, Red Sox
Tags: , , , , ,

Mike: I think it’s high time (no pun intended) we post something about the Red Sox’s new manager. I feel like this is the sports-form of incest for us. The manager of the Mets during my formative years as a sports lunatic has now made the jump from mustachioed-Mets manager to ESPN analyst to Red Sox manager.

You know better than most that I have no mercy when it comes to mocking Bobby V’s comments as an ESPN analyst, but to be fair to him, he has a good baseball mind. He also has the inclinations of a New Yorker, that is, he can be loud and in your face, especially when he disapproves of certain actions or sees a better way forward.

I imagine that if this happened last year, you would have lost your mind, but seeing as how the bandwagon has left Boston and what remains are the die-hard, self-loathing, Yankees-hating, rabid fans, I think Bobby V might have his chance to finally stop under-performing. He’ll have another chance to beat the Yankees. One thing is for certain, he won’t be squaring off against his former team in any game of even remote consequence.

Nick: To be honest, I’m still trying to sort through my feelings on Valentine’s hiring. I’m completely conflicted. On one side, I’ve heard him say some inane and asinine things on Sunday Night Baseball. He’s a boisterous character who probably won’t be able to keep himself out of the spotlight no matter how hard he tries. After all, we’re talking about a guy who refers to himself in the third person with regularity, someone who was so averse to taking a backseat that he threw on sunglasses and a fake mustache just to return to the dugout after being ejected. He won’t be the players’ manager that caters to their whims and needs as coddled celebrities. In essence, the anti-Francona.

Mike: So I guess the question is: does the anti-Francona hasten the advent of Red Sox Armageddon or does he bring balance to the Force?

Nick: It has more to do with how the team reacts… and prophets rarely get a welcome reception — I mean, who likes hearing all that doomsday crap? All these players have ever had, and the only type of manager I’ve known, is the one who stays in the background, backs his players up no matter what, and keeps any dirty laundry in house.

Mike: Is that why all your laundry pile is higher than your bed?

Nick: No, that’s because I still haven’t gotten out of my depression from last September. I don’t have to remind you (and certainly not myself, it makes me want to throw up every time I think about it) what happened that month – the 7-20 record, the beer, the fried chicken, the lack of a playoff appearance, the empty pit in my stomach where happiness and hope were supposed to reside.

Mike: Welcome to my life for the past ten years.

Nick: I’m almost sorry.

Mike: I’m sorry you can never fully enjoy fried chicken again.

Nick: Although I’m struggling to come to grips with the fact that the Red Sox pushed out one of the greatest managers in franchise history, the truth is, it’s probably what the Red Sox need. Bill Walsh theorized that a coach or executive could only be effective in the same organization for 10 years before stagnating. A decade signifies that it’s time for a change, and Francona and Epstein were just a bit shy of that mark. Maybe a guy with the big mouth and the no-bull attitude was just who the Red Sox needed to hire — someone like Bobby V.

A new voice had to come in. And if the players are upset, the they have only themselves to blame. Had they won two more games, or didn’t make Francona feel like he couldn’t reach them any longer, then they wouldn’t find themselves in this position. It’s that simple.

Mike: Bobby V is the right voice for the Red Sox because he is both distracting and a pre-made scapegoat. The fans will focus their ire on the manager who has failed his entire career to live up to expectations and forget about the players who are also sub-par in their performance… Why? Because managers get fired much quicker than 6-year contract players. And, if Bobby fails again, the fans will say “I knew it! He sucks!” and if he doesn’t fail, fans will love the Sox front office and claim they have brilliance at the helm.

Second, he’s never inherited a team built-to-compete like the Sox. He’s managed All-Stars, but never actually had them drop in his lap like a pre-paid stripper. I think this will be a defining moment for him and as much as a manager can, he might up his effort.

Nick: Phew! That’s good to know. From everything all these baseball talking heads have been saying, he’s well prepared, uses advanced stats to his advantage, and has learned from his past mistakes in how he handled the media, in his relationships with his superiors, and in not being a self-absorbed ass. Oh good! I’m sold!

From your experience growing up watching Valentine at the helm of your most successful Mets teams, will he help erase the haunted memories of Red Sox Nation? Or will his antics just alienate his players and frustrate the fan base that (with any luck) is now comprised of solely die-hards looking for wins instead of Pink-Hats hoping to sing “Sweet Caroline”?

Mike: He was only the manager for the most successful Mets teams in my lifetime. Why couldn’t I have been born two years earlier?

When I was growing up, there was no one I admired more than Bobby Valentine (until I went to my first double-header ever and watched Robin Ventura knock out two grand slams). Valentine got the Mets into the World Series. He pulled Mike Piazza out of his “Welcome to NYC” slump, during which almost every Mets fan booed him while he was on-deck, at bat, and especially for the drawn-out slow post-strikeout walk back to the dugout. But he never could beat the Braves.

That’s kind of a cardinal sin for a team. Without beating the arch-nemesis, any victory isn’t quite at sweet. Imagine the 2004 Boston World Series Championship without the magic of the ALCS comeback over the Yankees. Or imagine a year of losing all 18 regular season match-ups with the Yankees, but taking home a trophy. It just wouldn’t command the same kind of awe.

Nick: FACT. (Well, minus the second example. I might consider taking a deal with the devil in which I get a Red Sox World Series trophy in exchange for 18 losses at the hands of the Yankees. I’d at least have to think long and hard about it.)

If I’m not being facetious, then my feelings for Bobby V have nothing to do with anything those talking heads are saying (though I am excited to see Francona on Sunday Night Baseball). Instead, it has everything to do with what you just said: understanding the rivalry. In other words, when Bobby V uttered the magical words, “I hate the Yankees. I don’t want to waste valuable time talking about them,” I was in love. Like, seriously.

He can talk the talk, now I just have to wait and see if Valentine can walk the walk, which is all that matters in Beantown. Still, I’m all giddy waiting for the first time the Red Sox beat the Yankees (knock on wood) so I can giggle in front of the TV watching Bobby Valentine gloating over his victory.

How long until baseball season again?

  1. Erin Sadleir says:

    Very usefull blog. i will follow this blog. keep up the good work.

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