Valentine scores high with media

November, 30, 2011
Here’s a sampling of reaction to the news that Bobby Valentine is about to become the 45th manager of the Red Sox:

* Mike Lupica, New York Daily News: If you are going to shake things up in Boston, you do it with Valentine. Do I believe he has learned from his mistakes, that he understands why it took him this long to get another managing job in the big leagues? I believe he has learned a lot. Buck Showalter learned from his own mistakes and understood that the Orioles were going to be his last managing job and has made the most of that job. Valentine knows better than anybody that he will never be dealt another hand like this, no matter how last season ended for the Red Sox, and it ended about as badly as it could.

* Joel Sherman, New York Post: Bobby Valentine, who makes lifelong friends and enduring enemies in near-equal numbers, has reached an agreement to become the Red Sox manager, completing a process that for most of its duration did not include him. That, in itself, speaks to the current condition of the most neurotic team in the majors.

The Red Sox have become the George Steinbrenner Yankees, and now they have their Billy Martin, a combustible manager as likely to throw the organization into further chaos as he is to bring championship glory. Valentine is ingenious and inflammatory, and his greatest detractors would add insincere.

But his supporters -- and I fall much more into this subset -- recognize Valentine is a brilliant tactician, as good an evaluator of talent as there is in the game, a maestro at deploying the strengths of a full 25-man roster, a tireless worker, an independent thinker and a competition junkie. He also is a riveting personality, a human carnival who doesn’t do boring.
* Chad Finn, Boston Globe: Is Bobby V. the right choice? If he manages a team or two that ends its season with a collage of champagne celebrations and duck boat rides, the answer will have to be in the affirmative. But until then, Valentine, a brilliant baseball mind who somehow never finished in first place and made just one World Series in 15 seasons as a manager with the Rangers and Mets, a man who admits he's a know-it-all and still can't help himself, a mass of contradictions and conundrums occasionally hidden behind a fake mustache and glasses, will remain a polarizing figure in his new job just as he was in his previous two.

Again: Is he the right choice? I doubt even Lucchino and Cherington are certain of that now, particularly the latter, who knew what he was getting into when he accepted the Red Sox' GM job but probably didn't expect to be overruled publicly on his first major decision.

But Valentine was the most daring choice, the boldest option by far, and with apologies to Gene Lamont, whose previous managerial stints look better upon close inspection (two first-place finishes in Chicago, more wins in Pittsburgh than the feeble rosters merited), he's the one with the most potential to achieve great things.

Of course, he's also the most likely to spontaneously combust, then tell you he actually invented spontaneous combustion at the kitchen in his restaurant in Stamford, Conn. one fine afternoon. Boston may need four sports radio stations just to keep up with him.

* Buster Olney, As Valentine emerged as a managerial candidate, some Red Sox players have been upset; they've been grumbling to each other, through texts and phone calls. Maybe it's because they heard Bobby critique their play on the air. Maybe they haven't liked his tone. Maybe they haven't liked his smile. Maybe they've heard bad things. And the fact is they had no power to do anything about it, because the September collapse completely undercut the credibility of the Red Sox players. If one of them had called the front office to register concerns about Valentine, they might've heard laughter on the other end of the line. The Boston players had complete control of the clubhouse in 2011, and we know what happened.

Well, the players should forget about that history, about their preconceived notions of Valentine, and focus on this: Bobby Valentine really cares about baseball; he really wants to win. He will be into every pitch of every inning of every game of every week of every month of the season. He will see everything.

* Steve Buckley, Boston Herald: True, it’s one thing to bark out baseball wisdom from the comfort of the broadcast booth, and something entirely different to walk into a big league clubhouse and tell millionaire players you don’t like the way they do their work. But Valentine has been nothing if not blunt during his days as a big league manager, and that’s precisely what the laughingstock Red Sox desperately need right now -- somebody with the stones to say things that people don’t want to hear.

* Tim Brown, Yahoo Sports: This is the humiliation that chases the epic collapse – a manager search, and then some handwringing, and then a manager search 1B, followed by a Twitter-flood.

This is what it looks like when the adults show up, when the men who spend the money expect a return, and when the men who crave power see an opening.

You get Bobby V.

And, damn, did the Red Sox just get lucky.

He’s smart. He’s charismatic. He runs the clubhouse. He owns the top step.

Any questions?

The shame in this is that any love for Valentine will be viewed as a criticism of Terry Francona. It’s not intended as such. Francona was the best manager the Red Sox ever had, or certainly for the past century or so.

Given the events of 2011, up to and including September 2011, however, Francona himself might argue Valentine is the better man for 2012 and beyond.

The Red Sox had lost their way. They patched what they could. They bailed where they had to. And still they foundered, in the most chilling way imaginable.

This is why Bobby V made so much sense.

He’s 61, a baseball man – you could argue – for exactly that long. He’s done New York at its craziest with the Mets. He’s battled the Yankees. He’s pushed clubs into October.

* Joe Lemire, Sports In making this move the Red Sox hoped to recreate "Bobby Magic" -- the catch-all phrase used to describe Valentine's wild success as a manager in Japan earlier this decade -- and are doing so the opposite way of how old management stumbled upon the success of "Morgan Magic," which marked Boston's unexpected second-half surge to a division title in 1988 under unassuming interim manager Joe Morgan, who was slated to be a placeholder as the club sought a more high-profile replacement.

The point being, the Sox aren't known for hiring the celebrity manager. Francona, after all, arrived with virtually no hype, having managed only four previous losing seasons with the Phillies before taking over in Boston. And he became the most successful Red Sox manager in a century.
Valentine represents a radical departure from the managerial blueprint the Red Sox have used for decades but, then again, the Red Sox are hoping for a radical departure from last season too.

* Jon Paul Morosi, Valentine is brilliant. He’s an excellent quote. Red Sox Nation should love him, even if he is from The Other Side of Connecticut. And if it doesn’t work, well, the Red Sox will fire him and look for a new manager. That’s the way it goes in Major League Baseball. It’s not nearly as complicated as the Red Sox have led us to believe.

Hiring a manager is much easier than, say, fixing a broken starting rotation — which is the true offseason objective on Yawkey Way. And after turning one job search into a nine-week calamity, can this front office be trusted to make meaningful, efficient upgrades to a starting rotation that presently includes Alfredo Aceves and Kyle Weiland?

* Scott Miller, Valentine is charismatic, energetic, whip-smart, passionate, arrogant, enthusiastic, old-school, new-school, inquisitive, condescending, confrontational, sharp-tongued and hard-edged in one blinding, kaleidoscope of a package.

How that mixes with the New York Yankees will be riveting. How that mixes with the rest of the American League -- especially with Baltimore manager Buck Showalter -- will be highly entertaining.

How that plays within the Red Sox's own organization eventually will be the stuff of pure drama. There is no way the egos of Valentine and club president Larry Lucchino won't eventually clash and spark like positive and negative electrical currents. There is no way Valentine won't steamroll young rookie general manager Ben Cherington -- or, at least, try.

Fenway Park isn't nearly big enough to contain Valentine's out-sized ego. It isn't small enough to limit the possibilities of what this man and this team, together, could accomplish.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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