Monday, February 15, 2016

Bobby Valentine was Underrated

If you went anywhere near Facebook yesterday, you're well aware it was Valentine's Day. With the internet being the clever place it is, many people celebrated by posting or tweeting pictures or references of former manager Bobby Valentine. Unfortunately, many of those posts came with discussions of the "terrible" job he did in Boston. Saying they can't stand seeing his picture in a Sox uniform as if he was to blame for the bad season in 2012.

That's just not fair.

Did Valentine deserve some of the blame? Sure. How much? I'm not sure.

Some of the common media storylines say Valentine was practically a clubhouse cancer. He lost control of the team. Players wouldn't play for him. He was a punchline. Of course, the media was saying that from the day he was hired. For some reason, the second he was named as the next manager, the media went into overdrive. He was going to be nuts. They were drooling over the potential stories. They rarely touched on his successes (or even failures) as a manager. They were just excited to have a circus atmosphere in town. They were waiting for the easy stories. As the season progressed, it seemed like they had all the stories pre-written and were just releasing them as time went on. He was crazy. The players don't respect him. He doesn't know what going on with his clubhouse. He's lost control. The team just won't play for him. But, check out what the New York Times had to say halfway through that season. I assume that the NYT is probably pretty impartial in this case. And they were glowing over the fight the Red Sox had. A whole article about how anyone would forgive them for folding it up after all the injuries they had, but they keep battling back. They'd risen as a team to overcome so many obstacles. They pointed out that on July 7, the Sox were only a couple games out of the playoffs.

Sound like a guy who's lost control of the team to you? Yeah. Me neither.

What happened after that? Well the article mentions that the Sox just lost Pedroia to yet another injury a few day prior. A week or so later they lost Ortiz for, basically, the season. Will Middlebrooks would go down a month later. Then, you may remember, the Sox made a trade getting rid of what little talent that wasn't on the disabled list (and some talent that was). Of course, at that point what little chance the Sox had of winning went right on over to LA.

Valentine was criticized for saying the team he had in September was the worst one in the history of the game, or something like that. Maybe he shouldn't have said it out loud. But, was he wrong? I didn't hear anyone criticizing him on the merits of the comment. I mean look at this line-up for the September 23rd game against Baltimore. Podsednik-Ciriaco-Pedroia-Ross-Loney-Saltalamacchia-Valencia-Nava-Iglesias. Yeah. Exactly. So, with that roster, the team spiraled down to the last place finish at the end. Not sure I can really blame Valentine for that one.

So, once again the laziness of the media perpetuated a storyline that was easy, but not exactly accurate. The team, when he had a team, actually fought hard for Valentine. They didn't give up until their bodies did. Bobby Valentine didn't curse the team to finish last. He did a pretty good job when he had players to manage. And, even sometimes when he didn't.

After all, the Sox won that September 23rd game.

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