It took Bobby Valentine all of two weeks to get himself into hot water as manager of the Boston Red Sox. Granted, that’s a week longer than it took Ozzie Guillen to create trouble in Miami, but still…
Valentine called out veteran infielder Kevin Youkilis, questioning his effort and his heart and wondering if the 33-year-old may be starting to slip from among the league’s elite.
Valentine was a good manager on the Texas Rangers and New York Mets dating back to the 80s and 90s. But both of those teams had something in common: they were filled with younger players who had yet to
establish themselves as Major League stars.
Valentine made the Rangers contenders and then took the Mets all the way to the 2000 National League pennant. Those teams were both overachievers, teams whose accomplishments exceeded their expectations. In both cases, Valentine’s aggressive style in which he often spoke his mind and criticized his players to the media, worked well and his players responded.
The Red Sox are the exact opposite of those earlier teams Valentine managed. There are 12 players currently on Boston’s active roster that are at least 30-years-old. They include established stars like Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Josh Beckett.
These players are not only stars, but they have been teammates for a long time and many of them have won at least one World Series for the Red Sox. It is clear they have loyalty to one another and feel that
they don’t need Valentine’s button pushing. Pedroia quickly backed Youkilis in the media and it seems like the battle between Valentine and his players is on.
Red Sox’s management had to expect that Valentine would be himself: opinionated, often brutally honest and always the center of attention. They also had to know that some of these veteran players may not take
kindly to Valentine’s antics.
Times have changed since the 70s where teams like the Oakland A’s or New York Yankees could unite around their hatred of an owner like Charlie Finley or George Steinbrenner or a manager like Billy Martin. In the
Majors these days, a fractured locker room is usually not a winning locker room. If the players hate their manager, they are less likely to perform for him.
Valentine backtracked Monday. He actually apologized to Youkilis, an uncharacteristic move for Bobby V. But will his players believe him and accept his apology?
Much like Guillen in Miami, it didn’t take long for Valentine to create controversy in the Red Sox clubhouse. Now it remains to be seen if he can win in Boston. If he doesn’t, it appears his stay at Fenway could be a very short one.