Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pass the Kool-Aid

About 27 hours ago, I was lukewarm at best regarding the Bobby Valentine manager decision.  Now, I'm chugging the Kool-Aid.  Not because I am too thrilled about the continued undermining of Cherington, champion of "subjective" analysis.  Not because I'm too thrilled about the blatant disrespect for Gene Lamont.  But because of the following turns of events:

1.  ESPN Boston started reporting that various Red Sox are unhappy about the decision to hire Valentine.
2.  I read an article about Valentine being critical of the way that Beckett takes 40 seconds between pitches.
3.  I re-read the "Terry Francona, Fat Little Girlfriend" post.
4.  I started reading about how competitive Valentine is.  It sounded more like Steinbrenner and not at all like a "marathon" runner.
5.  I started to imagine what Valentine's reaction would be to incidents like 46 getting caught stealing third base on September 17th, Beckett getting fat, Lackey whining about the rain, Youkilis whining about competitive disadvantages against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Gonzalez complaining about bus rides and Sunday Night Baseball, Crawford crying about being benched against Price, Ortiz crying about the number of power hitters in the lineup, Ortiz crying about the DH rule, Ortiz crying about official scorer decisions, Ortiz crying about who's the starting pitcher, Ortiz crying about his failed steroid tests, Ortiz crying about his contract, Wakefield crying about how the fans "deserve" to see him walk six guys and fail to make it out of the third inning, Drew asking out of a game after Clay Buchholz had already come in as a pinch runner, and all the other abominations that marked September, June, April, 2009, and pretty much the majority of the JD Drew era in Boston.

There would be blood.  There would be accountability.  There would be benchings.  There would be change.  And this line is for Pat:  The change would consist of more than mile markers every 0.2 miles on Interstate 95.

6.  I read the Bob Ryan article saying that JD Drew wouldn't last "sixteen seconds" under Valentine.  Think about this:  Francona mentioned to the media back in 2009 that "we already put a pitcher into run. That's all we got to do, put somebody out in [expletive] right.  Francona!  Who covered for absolutely everybody!  Before even being asked a single question, I could imagine what kind of incentive-laden tirade would start.
7.  Valentine himself in his press conference referred to his prior criticism, saying he welcomed the reason of why it's a good thing to wait 20 seconds between throwing pitches.  In his welcome speech he called out Josh Beckett!

I'm salivating right now.  Nothing would make me happier than an uncomfortable 46, Ortiz, Beckett, Gonzalez, and the rest of those entitled stiffs.  Them being miserable after being in the country club for so long is sweet revenge for them making me miserable being a Red Sox fan the last three years. 

Especially 46.  Let's make this guy squirm.  He doesn't want to be benched because it might hurt his fantasy stats.  So the days of getting caught stealing third to run up his fantasy stats should be over. 

As Pat says, he ripped the Red Sox on Sunday Night Baseball repeatedly (if you didn't know, the Sox were on Sunday Night Baseball a lot this year.  God's will).  The Red Sox, after being told that they're great and how easy it's gonna be their entire lives, apparently don't like criticism.  Now, instead of being told that it's not a sprint but a marathon, might actually get yelled at! 

One more thing about the "marathon" concept.  If the Red Sox had a closer next year, will his third 8th-inning appearance be in September?  Nope!  Valentine is known to be a pretty competitive guy who wants to win every game.  There will be no more babying of closers in the name of October.  There will be no more comments about "oh well, we lost, if we win tomorrow we'll be in first again, yay!"  There will be no more waiting for a pitcher to pitch the team out of the game (Wait for Seven, my dad calls it) before he's pulled.  This is because Bobby Valentine seems like the kind of person who doesn't want to limp into October, but instead the kind of person who wants to win 117 games and take his place on "Immortality Peak" like this team should have according to NESN.com's Eric Ortiz.

I stand by my previous comment about how it's just as easy to ignore a fiery, yelling manager as it is to ignore a coddling, cribbage-playing manager.  But this much is true:  The Red Sox had their chance to have a fat little girlfriend as a manager.  They blew it.  And, as Theo Epstein once said...

I like justice.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting situation.

On the one hand, I agree with the sentiment that Bobby V is the right kind of guy in terms of changing the culture. The fact that some Red Sox players are apparently unhappy with the hire is probably a very good thing in certain ways, because they are probably unhappy that things they are used to are going to change. I also agree with the notion that the Red Sox players lost credibility in 2011 - and especially September - and that their ability to voice concerns about the managerial hire - Valentine or otherwise - is null and void. Which is unfortunate in the big picture, because really you'd like to have the players be at least a piece of that process, especially if there are concerns. After all, they are a big part of how succussful and impactful the manager can be, so you want their input. But that really wasn't possible because of the way the Sox conducted themselves in 2011. And while that was definitely the right call now, it's not ideal in the big picture.

And that's because, on the other hand, I see the downside here. Valentine has spent the last few years as a prominent analyst. He critiques teams and players. He was especially hard on certain current Red Sox players at times. Now, he's just doing his job. But the players have no obligation to like that. And they CERTAINLY have no obligation to want to be managed by someone who has been so publicly critical of them.

In this sense, it is an akward and somewhat bizarre hire. It happens, but you don't often see someone who has become a National analyst go back to managing for the very reason listed above. In addition, the Sox took a guy that hadn't managed in the majors since 2002 and gave him a job. For a job as good as the Red Sox, that's somewhat concerning.

All that said, I got a chance to watch Valentine with the Mets in the New York market and I think he will, at the very least, have a chance to change some things. He will get fired up and say pointed things to the players, umpires, media etc. after a tough game or situation that he's not happy with. The players will no longer be able to have all the relaxed luxuries they apparently became accustomed to. What Bobby V will be able to do beyond that remains to be seen, and is largely up to the players on the field anyway. But if he can even just do that - change the culture - that's a start given where the Red Sox have been in 2010 and 2011, missing the playoffs in back to back years with their payroll, and especially the way in which in happened in 2011 and the circumstances surrounding it.

PF

Anonymous said...

DV

It is only fitting that as you wind down this blog I disagree with you about Jacoby Ellsbury. Bobby Valentine will have no problem with him at all. Not because he's a very good player. Not because he always says the right thing (he doesn't). But because he always plays hard. No matter what you want to say about him, when he's in the line-up he plays hard every time. With the exception of the injury plagued 2010, he's played 145, 153, and 158 games in four years in Boston. Those three seasons are equal to the amount of games JD Drew plays in five years.

Also--everything else you said about Bobby Valentine is right on--he's going to tell all those guys who disagree with him or do things he doesn't like to shove it. And he will go try everything to win every single game.

Now--the only issue is whether or not that will burn these guys out. On the one hand, the ranting and raving won't burn the players out in 2012. Or even probably 2013. That approach does have a shorter shelf life, but it won't catch up in the first year. The first year everything is still fresh.

But the bullpen? Wearing out the best arms may well get you a terrific regular season record, but as Joe Torre, Scott Proctor, Paul Quantrill, and Tom Gordon can attest, it can catch up to you in the playoffs. That's my real concern with Bobby Valentine.

As long as the Sox stay healthy they'll make the playoffs.

Lastly--As much as I know you hate the extra wild card, it actually solves one of the problems you always complained about: Winning the division now means something. Wild Card teams play each other while division winners get a bye. This is a huge development, and it's one that I'm absolutely in favor of.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

Gunn,

All my cards on 46 are laid out on the table as of Wednesday night's post. They're up, they're complete, and their ready for public consumption between Wednesday and two years from Wednesday. It's fine that we disagree. You think I'm wrong and I think you're wrong. That's fine. I'm glad that alongside all the crap we are both right about that there's something we disagree on. Just happens to be a big thing.

Your bullpen concern is a legitimate one. There could be some serious Joe Torre/Tanyon Sturtze/Paul Quantrill/Tom Gordon stuff going on here. But I would rather have that than the "Save Him For October" attitude that Francona strutted around. Obviously the optimal situation would be something in the middle.

A good point brought up to me today: Could you imagine the Hurricane Irene incident under Bobby Valentine? Especially considering that Valentine and Lucchino are boys, would they dare complain about trying to play a doubleheader on a Friday or Saturday? Would there be Dr. Dre headphones or trips on the Iroquois? Sure don't think so.

The GM said...

Note: Pat's comment is up top because it got spam-busted. Just released it. I have things to say about it; hopefully I'll have the chance to do so.

the gm at work said...

Pat,

To respond to your previously-spammed comment, the fact that the Red Sox players have lost credibility is undeniable. Let's just say that Gunn and I aren't the only ones thrilled that the players are not happy about this. We're not the only ones who want blood.

If the downside you cite (players crying because they've been questioned by a television analyst) indeed does come true, it's just further evidence that this entire group of players needs to get the F out.

Ross Kaplan said...

I don't know what the Boston media is saying about Valentine, but around here the media is really pushing the point that this Boston team will be (on paper) the most talented team he's ever managed. This was a guy who took two mediocre Mets to consecutive NLCS' in 99 and 2000 and would have taken the former team to the World Series as well if they didn't spot the Braves a 3-0 series lead and if Kenny Rogers didn't walk in the winning run in Game 6.

How his ability to maximize the most talent out of underrated teams will translate to an already talented team in Boston remains to be seen, but it will be very interesting to see how his approach his received by his new team.