Friday, September 7, 2012

BOBBY V AND BEING 'LATE'


Bobby Valentine, one of the biggest lightening rods the game has ever seen,
got zapped on Wednesday for being late to a game in Oakland last week. In an
interview with WEEI in Boston, the Red Sox manager was asked if he had
"checked" out of the season, with radio host, Glenn Ordway, citing his supposedly
late arrival to the ballpark as one of the reasons why people might be thinking that.

Valentine could've broken into his best Allen Iverson imitation and said, "We're
talking about showing up three hours before the game. We're not talking about
missing a game. We're talking about being there a full three hours before the start
of it." That answer would've been better than Valentine telling Ordway he should
"punch him in the mouth," and he would've been right.

Last May, Angels manager Mike Scoscia took a personal day during the season
to attend his son's high school graduation. In June, former Red Sox skipper Terry
Francona missed a game to see his daughter get her diploma in her cap and gown.
And Cubs manager Dale Sveum, in the midst of terrible start, asked for a day off
to see his son graduate from high school. All these managers actually missed a game
and nobody said a word. Nobody said they had "checked out" or accused them
of being unprepared or not caring about the welfare of the team.


Yet, Bobby Valentine goes to the airport to pick up his son, who he's only seen
once in the past year, gets stuck in traffic, and arrives at 4:18 pm for a 7:05 pm
start. That's almost a full three hours before first pitch and considering the team
doesn't take batting practice until around 5pm, is that really a big deal? Is it worthy
of tagging a manager of being indifferent to what is going on with the team.? Highly
doubt it.

Members of the Boston media bought into Terry Francona's act when he said he
showed up for a 7pm game at noon. To them, Valentine showing up nearly four
hours after Francona's regular arrival was blasphemous and signaled a lackadaisical
work ethic, which is almost laughable. Nobody ever really knew if Francona showed
up every day at noon, but since he said it and they believed it, then well, perception
became reality.

I'm sure Francona did what most of us do when we get to work. Check e-mails, get
something to eat, and settle into the job. For crying out loud, baseball is not brain
surgery. No manager prepares for a game like a Harvard medical student gets ready
for an exam in molecular physics. Oh, sure, Bill James can send down his sabremetric
numbers, but how smart do you have to be to figure out lefty-righty match-ups and
who is wielding a hot bat and who isn't?

I'm sure there were times when Francona and other managers had to come in a little
late because of a charity golf tournament, a doctor's appointment, or because a family
member needed some tender loving care. It's life. It happens. People in every walk of
life have unforeseen issues to deal with and that sometimes affects when they get to
work. We've all been there. Even people in the media. Valentine picked up his son,
got caught in traffic, and was at the ballpark at 4:18pm and people are acting like he
ran in, put his uniform on backwards, then ran to the dugout just in time to make it
to the first pitch. Seriously?

Valentine showing up at 4:18 and being "late" didn't affect anyone but those in the
media who thought they had a big scoop. Players expect one thing from the manager
when they arrive at the ballpark: the line-up posted. Players, especially at that level,
are creatures of habit. They have their routines, do their drills, and prepare for the
game. Few of them care to interact with the manager at all. Do you think Albert Pujols
cares when his manager arrives at the park? That has nothing to do with his success
at the plate. Nothing. When Pujols got off to a bad start, I never heard him say, "I
was mentally affected because I didn't play patty-cake with the manager before the
game." It's the players job to get themselves ready and everyone knows that.

Valentine doesn't give scouting reports on that nite's pitcher. Dave Magadan, the hitting
coach, is responsible for that. He doesn't disseminate information on the other team's
hitters. Randy Nieman, the pitching coach, is responsible for that. If you get to the park
early, watch what most major league managers do. They meet with the media, shoot
the bull with players, perhaps, sign a few autographs, and then go behind the batting
cage to watch players take some cuts. Managing is not rocket science, please.

Valentine had plenty of time before picking up his son to read scouting reports and
figure out who is going to be in the starting line-up. Some people in the media think
making out a line-up is akin to trying to figure out a way to cut the 17 trillion dollar
deficit of the United States. Please. it's not that difficult.

It's easy to pile on Valentine, admittedly, I'm guilty of that, but to make a big deal
of him having only 3 hours to prepare for a game is ludicrous. After all, we're not
talking about actually missing a game, we're talking about a guy getting vilified because
he was there only 3 hours before it. Good grief.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A NATION OF SNITCHES AND SELLOUTS


Here a snitch, there a snitch, everywhere a snitch. What the hell is going on in this
country with people ratting on others and selling them out? On the "Today"
show, Tyler Hamilton, a convicted liar, crier, and drug cheat, is pimping his new
book about how he witnessed Lance Armstrong doing performance-enhancing drugs.
He said he felt the weight of the world was lifted off his shoulders for his admissions,
but the former Olympic cyclist looked liked he wanted to jump off the Brooklyn
Bridge after his interview with Matt Lauer.

Later in the day, I'm listening to Bobby Valentine's bizarre interview with WEEI in
Boston and he gets all defensive when it came to the question about the Red Sox
manager arriving late to the park. Besides wanting to punch the host in the mouth,
Valentine deflected the attention from himself to Joe Maddon, manager of the the
Tampa Bay Rays, "Joe Maddon gets there (work) every day at 4pm." I realize
Bobby V's under a lot of stress, but to drag Maddon into his cess pool is shameful,
really shameful.


But that seems to be the way of the world lately, doesn't it?  If you're going down,
you might as well drag someone down with you. Hamilton, in addition to Floyd Landis,
certainly embody the "taking you down, too," mantra. Both cyclists were caught
cheating and stripped of the titles and medals. Their reputations were stained forever
so they went on "60 Minutes" and wrote their books  and said, "Hey, if we're going
down, Lance Armstrong is coming with us. He's a cheater, too."

Adrian Gonzalez, formerly of the Red Sox, allegedly texted the owners of the Red Sox
because he and some of his teammates didn't like Valentine and wanted him fired.
Gonzalez, of course, said the text came from his phone, but he didn't send it. Somehow,
back-up catcher, Kelly Shoppach got dragged into it and he was blamed for sending
it out. Whatever, the case, the team cried about their manager and sold him out.


Remember when Eric Mangini ran to the NFL about Bill Belichick and hatched open
"Spygate?" Every job Mangini got was because of the Patriots head coach. He was
groomed by the Hoodie and became a millionaire because of him. But after getting his
butt handed to him one too many times, Mangini ratted out his former friend and mentor.

I don't  agree with cameras on the sideline, but I'm strongly against the way Mangini
squealed on Belichick. He could've handled it differently, like man-to-man. Mangini
got lucky when he landed the Cleveland Browns job after being fired by the Jets. The
Browns owner was enamored with Mangini because he was a ball boy for the team
(Thanks to Belichick) and went over his football executives and hired him.


However, the rest of the coaching fraternity hasn't forgotten about Mangini's
sell-out and it may be a long time, if ever, before Mangini gets another coaching
job. Who can trust a guy like that? Mangini has been pretty much ostracized by
most in NFL coaching circles. When I see Mangini talking on ESPN, I often wonder
if he thinks ratting on his former coach was really worth it.

For those who have played team sports, ratting or selling out teammates was taboo.
You just didn't do it. If you went to a coach about a teammate and the rest of
team found out about it, you'd wear the scarlet letter on your chest for the rest of
your career and probably get your ass kicked every way but sideways.

That doesn't seem to be the code in the working world, where co-workers smile
to your face, stab you in the back, and throw you under the bus to get ahead. That's
just the way of the world, I guess, and it's really, really, sad.
                                  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

THINGS THAT MAKE ME SAY, "STOP!"


Perhaps, the bow tie that Ken Rosenthal wears is cutting off the blood supply to
his brain. The Fox Sports baseball reporter/writer stated in an "exclusive" that
Terry Francona should be re-hired by the Boston Red Sox after Bobby Valentine
gets his pink slip.

This "exclusive" comes from the same Fox Sports that recently led with a headline,
"In the Baghdad" after an Iranian wrestler won a gold medal in the Olympics.
Sorry, Baghdad's in Iraq, not Iran. Anyway, I don't know how an opinion becomes
an "exclusive" but web sites like Fox Sports have to do anything they can to get
10 views for the day.

Do you really think Francona would go back to the Red Sox after the owners smeared
his reputation on the way out about his use of painkillers and how they may have
affected his performance? No chance. Ken Rosenthal, nice tie, good cause, but please
STOP with the non-sense.


Tyler Hamilton, liar and convicted drug cheat was on the "Today" show pimping his
new book about seeing Lance Armstrong use performance-enhancing drugs. Hamilton,
a former "teammate" of Armstrong didn't have any physical evidence that Lance cheated
(Does anybody?) was misty-eyed after telling Matt Lauer he felt the weight of the world
had been lifted off his back after admitting he was a cheat and ratting out Armstrong.
Good grief. Tyler Hamilton, please STOP. You have your 15 seconds. Please leave the
stage now.


Notre Dame's marketing arm, IMG College, suspended radio analyst Allen Pinkett for 3
games after making comments that didn't reflect well on the Irish. Pinkett, a former
All-American running back in South Bend, said the team "needed a few bad citizens" to
be a great one. Not a great choice of words, but come on, a 3-game suspension? Does
everyone have a to be a Notre Dame pom-pom waving cheerleader? Isn't the love fest
that NBC puts on every Saturday, enough? Slap the guy on the wrist and move on, but
three games, STOP!

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen announced that he returned to Twitter after a nearly
3 month hiatus, or 2 months less than the siesta the entire team took during the season.
Things were a disaster for the Marlins this year, Guillen's comments about loving Fidel
Castro certainly didn't help. I can breathe again with Ozzie's announcement that he's back
on Twitter. Good grief, maybe Ryan Seacrest will break into programming to let us know
how Ozzie is trending.


Good to see Florida State beefed up their strength of schedule. The Seminoles opened
the season by beating Murray State, 69-3. This weekend, they play another powerhouse
in Savannah State.

Chad Johnson, please stop. You head-butt your wife, get arrested, fired by the Dolphins,
have your reality show cancelled, and your BFF, Terrell Owens gets released, as well.
Oh, yeah, and your wife divorced you and said you need help. Apparently, she was right.
You got a tattoo of her on your leg? Loooooooooooser, she's not coming back. You're
unemployed, headed for jail, and you Tweet like a 16-year old high school girl.


Monday, September 3, 2012

BOBBY VALENTINE EXPERIMENT IS OVER


The Bobby Valentine experiment was an unmitigated natural disaster. FEMA wouldn't
want any part of cleaning up the aftermath.The players hated him, he hated the players,
and the fans hated all of them. The Red Sox suffered through one of the most painful
seasons in franchise history, and this organization sure knows pain.

The I'm-smarter-than-you owners of the Red Sox will soon pull the plug on their grand
experiment. They have known for a long time that this is not working. They've endorsed
Valentine in the past, but soon they'll be sending him to the guillotine. They'll probably smear Valentine's reputation on the way out much like they did Terry Francona nearly a year ago.
There will be leaks about V's mental state and his lack of preparedness, even though he's
often given the impression he invented baseball, not to mention the sandwich wrap.


The Red Sox/Bobby Valentine marriage was one of the worst in the history of sports. Like the
Julia Roberts-Lyle Lovett union, this one had absolutely no chance of succeeding. None.
Everybody looked at Julia Roberts and said, "What the hell you were you thinking." Same
thing happened when the Red Sox hired Valentine. It failed miserably and like the
Roberts/Lovett partnership, the divorce will happen quickly. The Three Kings of the Red
Sox, John Henry, Larry Lucchino, and Tom Werner, should be called the Three Blind Mice
for failing to see that Bobby Valentine was the wrong choice all along.


There was a reason he had been out of the game for nearly 10 years. There was a reason
that nearly every player who played for him, despised him. There was a reason he had
never won a division title in his 15 years of managing despite having an abundance of
talent on his roster. And yes, there was a reason people in the game called him,
"Bobby Me."

The owners were blind to the reasons Bobby V shouldn't have been hired. Instead, they
went for the manager with the big name, a skipper who could keep them on the back
pages and drive the television ratings up. And oh, yeah, they wanted someone who
could change the culture of the clubhouse and use an iron fist when it came to disciplining
those beer-drinking, chicken wing eating sloths. Somehow they forgot about the "culture"
of the New York Mets clubhouse during the 1999 NLCS against the Atlanta Braves.
Bobby Bonilla and Rickey Henderson, were back in the clubhouse playing cards during
the late-innings of the game. Bobby V once said the clubhouse is "not mine". Clearly.
And in Boston, it never was.


In defense of Bobby V, he never really had a chance in Boston. Management said he couldn't
bring in his own coaching staff. Yeah, they waste hundreds of millions of dollars on Carl
Crawford, John Lackey, etc, but they won't buyout the contracts of the coaches who were
hired by Francona and let Valentine pick his own guys? That was their first mistake. Those
coaches were loyal to Francona and insubordinate to Valentine.

The Red Sox had a ton of injuries, nobody can dispute that. More than 26 players were on
the disabled list during the course of the year. I don't care who the manager is, when you
have an attrition rate like that, it's tough to sustain success.


The players hated Valentine from the outset. When V was hired last December, the cry
throughout the organization was, "Anybody but Bobby V." It was their worst nightmare.
To the players, Bobby V was a "me" guy. A manager who loved the camera and had to
be the story. That doesn't work with today's "Look at me" players. There are only so many
cameras to go around and they don't want a manager getting more attention than they
deserve.

The players were never behind Valentine, especially after he threw Kevin Youkilis under
the bus back in April. That was Valentine's first big mistake and the players didn't let him
forget it. Dustin Pedroia told the media, "That's not the way we do things around here. Bobby
will learn that." That was the poison pill that made the players despise Bobby V. even more

Adrian Gonzalez texted ownership calling for a meeting to diss and dump their manager.
It doesn't get any more cowardly than that. Yeah, have a meeting, stab the manager in the
back while he's not around to defend himself. Petty, cowardly, insubordinate, yep, that pretty
much sums up the Red Sox this year.


Bobby Valentine, like him or hate, is a baseball lifer. He's been in the game since signing
with the Los Angeles Dodgers as an 18-year old kid. He's played, coached, managed, been
an analyst for ESPN, and a lightening rod in Boston. It's kind of sad how he's lost interest
in the game as he realizes his time with the Red Sox is nearing an end. Valentine won't say it,
but this has been the most painful 10 months of his baseball life.

I get the feeling that Bobby Valentine can't wait for the Red Sox to put him out of his misery.