Originally posted on 1313 Sports  |  Last updated 4/23/12

Bobby Valentine, I have your back. Yes it’s true. Proudly standing in his corner with my shoulders and chest ready for the barrage of complaints to come my way. Am I in the minority of fans feeling this way? Perhaps, but I refuse to jump on top of the pile this time. Not against a skipper who is receiving far too much blame, especially wrongful blame.  He was booed before the home opener against the Rays and again during a trip to the mound in Saturday’s epic meltdown against the Yankees. Not a single player has received such a ration of cantankerous emotion during the season. Why are we dog piling on this guy? I don’t get it. Are fans this influenced by the negative smog created on the airwaves by Felger, Mazz, Dennis and Callahan? Can’t we find more free thinkers out there that are willing to examine the roots of this problem? If you have jumped into the fray known as the Boo Bobby Valentine bandwagon, do you even know why it is you are booing him? All of these thoughts have forced me to take on the unenviable task of defending the Sox skipper. The fingers are pointed in the wrong direction on this one folks and they have been since the man was hired.

The first complaint I see often in the comments area of sports articles across the web is the following. Valentine’s biggest problem is that he thinks he is the smartest man in the room. What? Really? We have a problem with this. Go ahead check out the ESPN Boston comments or any other sports blog covering the Sox and you will see the aforementioned comment at least twice. The Red Sox Nation facebook page is also littered with this nonsense. Do you really want a manager that doesn’t think he is the smartest man in the room or on the field in charge? Wouldn’t that cause him to second guess all of his decisions and be swayed by his players into making decisions that benefit the individual and not  the team? Would you rather a manager who needs to spend time on a couch in front of a shrink before every game chanting  Woosah?

Do you really think that Doc Rivers, Bill Belicheck and Claude Julien believe that there are other men on the field or in the media rooms that are smarter in regards to the game they coach than they are? Come on people this is reaching if I ever heard it. I’m sorry but when you hire someone to take charge of your team you want the guy that thinks he is the smartest, who is willing to out think his opposing coach and that will do it with conviction when the pressure situations arise. Did we not learn from the Grady Little era? Hiring a coach who comes across as less than intelligent is a terrible idea? Apparently we haven’t.

Now on to the Kevin Youkilis scenario. This one is astounding to me. How is it that fans and teammates are sticking up for Kevin Youkilis after being called out by Valentine for not being as mentally or physically involved in the game as he typically is. This is the same Youkilis that has started fights in the dugout with Manny Ramirez, has called out Jacoby Ellsbury for being soft and is now under public scrutiny for being a possible snitch regarding the Beer and Chicken debacle. He has done all of these things in the public forum,not behind closed doors. Why should he be free from the same treatment and from his boss no less. Youk complaining about this is a blatant violation of the ethics of reciprocity aka The Golden Rule. Why should Youkilis be free to do to others what he is unwilling to have done to him? That is some weak sauce right there people, very weak. To top it off, Valentine was right. Youkilis has not been mentally or physically involved as he should be this season. His first AB in Detroit illustrates this to a tee. Ortiz hit a lead-off double against Verlander. Youkilis’ job is to get Ortiz over to 3rd at the very least. His first thought on the first pitch should be…fastball, away. He gets one and can’t even pull the trigger. Why? Apparently he thinks that driving up pitch counts versus a pitcher whose MPH rises with every pitch is a good idea rather than to key-hole a 92 MPH fastball early and help the Sox get a lead. He never saw another fastball inside and pops out to short. The next batter Ryan Sweeney grounds out to second base  moving Papi over to 3rd but the Sox fail to drive him in because Youkilis failed to set the tone and do what is needed to get the Sox a lead in a pitcher’s duel.

Fast forward to the Toronto series and Youkilis rolls his wrists over on an off-speed pitch hitting into an rally killing double play. Why? because his bat speed is toast, zilch, zip, nada, long gone. He has to cheat on fastballs and is left on his front foot chasing off-speed stuff off the plate. He then takes this failed AB out to the field and forgets to cover third on a play to the right of Nick Punto. Punto clearly communicated this to Youkilis before the play, but Youk was apparently still stewing about his AB and had his head up his arse. Runs scored, Bard gets lifted and the Jays stretch the lead.

Making matters worse in this situation is Pedroia coming to his defense. Look, I am a huge fan of Dustin Pedroia. I can’t think of any Red Sox fan who isn’t, but telling your boss that this isn’t the way we do things around here is so out of line. Last time I checked the manager is higher on the chain of command than a player is, that is unless the Sox front office decides certain players can get away with saying whatever they want and the manager has to apologize for stating his accurate opinions. Any other job, anywhere in the world and that employee is in the dog house. I have been a captain of a team, coached AAU squads and managed many offices and restaurants in my short 19 years of employment, so I can say without any doubts that when an employee undermines the authority of his boss by going over his head, there is nothing that can be done to win that back. Nothing. The player mutiny Valentine is dealing with is disgusting and the Sox front office is allowing it to fester.

Have you read the report in the New York Daily News from Week 1 of Spring Training? It was also on CSN Comcast last night with Merloni and Felger. Mike Aviles was butchering ground ball drills at the start of Valentine’s new campaign and Bobby V responded by chastising Aviles in front of the team. The players complained about Valentine’s harsh criticism and he was forced to apologize. Those are two occasions now where the players’ sensitivity issues and duct taped ego’s were threatened and the boss was forced into an apology. Of course the players feel discourse towards this man. He holds them accountable for their actions or lack thereof. If a child was asked if he likes the parent or teacher that lets them do whatever they want over the parent or teacher that disciplines them, the answer 100% of the time will always be with the spoiling mentor. At what point are we going to realize that this team is full of a bunch of whine bags. Wasn’t Valentine hired to change the culture of the clubhouse? Didn’t the Sox front office choose him over Dale Svuem because he is less likely to fraternize with the players and force them to work harder and pay attention to the details. Details they missed time and time again last year? Details they continue to miss this season. Shouldn’t they be held accountable. If not by the manager then by each other. Remember the Kangaroo Courts of the 80s’s teams. For every missed sign, failed attempt at moving a runner over etc, the players fined each other. The captains were in charge of the meetings and court was in session after every game. Do you think this is still in play in the Sox clubhouse? Fat chance. These players can’t handle being told they aren’t playing well or doing their jobs. Hey, here is a brash idea, if you don’t want to be called out for not doing your job, then do your freakin job.

Bobby V has inherited a team full of spoiled brats, a team that now has $60 million worth of payroll on the Disabled List. That dollar amount is higher than the Tampa Bay Rays entire payroll. He has no bullpen and is being hung out to dry by the front office. I get the fact  that everybody is clamoring for Tito Francona, but be honest with yourselves. Francona was handed the keys to a Ferrari and asked not to drive it into a wall. Tito had Hall Of Famers at the top of his rotation in Schilling and Pedro. He had Paps and Foulke to close out games with pitchers named Timlin and Embree ahead of them. He had veteran leaders in Mike Lowell, Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar and Johnny Damon. Tito hardly had to make many key in-game decisions. He mostly just got out of the way. Name me one game where Tito made a decision that swung the game in the Sox favor. Please don’t use the Dave Roberts steal as your example because everybody including Sarah Palin knew he was taking second base at that point. If that is your lone example you should be forced to wear a Pink Sox hat in the middle of Time Square yelling Yankees Suck, because clearly you deserve a smack upside the head. Larussa, Torre, Sparky Anderson and many other great all-time baseball managers couldn’t overcome these types of odds and Tito had a better team than this last April with a much easier schedule and had the Sox off to a worse start. Bobby Valentine doesn’t manage a team of Dirt Dogs. Besides Pedroia, they are all gone.

Now I am not saying that I will not doubt some of Valentine’s decisions. In fact, I questioned him for leaving Daniel Bard in too long last Monday against Tampa Bay., but upon further review can you blame him. Have you seen the Sox bullpen pitch. There isn’t a single pitcher in the pen that I would trust throwing to a number 9 hitter at this point. Heck our closer has an ERA of 24.00. Is that Valentine’s fault. He had to send Mark Melancon down to AAA with his 41.00 ERA and Melancon was being touted as our closer before the Andrew Bailey deal was made. Is it Valentine’s fault that our bullpen is throwing fat, juicy meatballs in every opposing hitters wheelhouse. Do you really believe that they are performing in this manner because they don’t like their manager. Check the payroll folks. We don’t have a single arm in that pen locked up long term. They are all fighting for better contracts in the very near future. They can’t afford to tank games because they feel disdain for their manager.

So why do we hate this guy? Because the players do? The players don’t trust him or like him and therefore we shouldn’t. Isn’t that a bit hypocritical from this fan base. We praise Parcells for calling Terry Glenn “she” and ripping the front office during interviews, but Bobby can’t. We praise Belicheck for having an arrogant sense of self regarding his knowledge of the game and we did so before he won titles as a Head Coach, but Bobby shouldn’t. We blame him because his players dislike him, but we make movies about Herb Brooks leading a Massachusetts filled 1980 Olympic hockey team to a miracle Gold Medal. Heck even Tom Landry’s players despised him for a long period of time and all he did was make the Dallas Cowboys America’s Team. Phil Jackson has more rings than Barnum and Bailey’s. Did his players really like him? NO. And that is the problem here. Our selfish team of paycheck jockey’s doesn’t have any respect for him let alone like him. They apparently don’t even respect each other enough to give fans a better effort. The respect game works both ways. You can’t leave a man alone on an island and then expect him to cover your back when the proverbial crap hits the fan if you are not willing to do the same for him. If this continues Valentine’s tenure will be short lived and when this behavior continues from the players who are you going to blame then? The next guy. It is time for fans to start supporting the Red Sox manager and show the wussified cry babies wearing Red Sox uniforms that we fans deserve better bang for our buck. That we will stand behind our manager when he criticizes your for playing like an Ostrich with his head in the dirt. It has been five years since the last title. The honeymoon has long since been over. I cannot sit here and continue to watch these players drive managers out of town. At some point the players deserve to face the music and the boo birds can point their angst in the right direction. Valentine hasn’t been here long enough to make things this bad. I’m giving a much longer leash. So should you.

 

 

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