Boston Red Sox Should Look in the Mirror After Firing Bobby Valentine

Bobby Valentine

According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, Bobby Valentine has been fired by the Boston Red Sox. Boston has now gone through two managers in two years but the front office seems hell bent on not looking in the mirror and taking some of the blame themselves.

The Red Sox made the announcement through a press release. In the press release Ben Cherington wrote:

“Our 2012 season was disappointing for many reasons. No single issue is the reason, and no single individual is to blame. We’ve been making personnel changes since August, and we will continue to do so as we build a contending club. With an historic number of injuries, Bobby was dealt a difficult hand. He did the best he could under seriously adverse circumstances, and I am thankful to him.” (Boston Globe)

Let’s analyze this for a second:

“Bobby was dealt a difficult hand.” I know Cherington was referring to injuries, but Cherington might as well have been referring to himself. In April, when Bobby V. called out Kevin Youkilis, Cherington immediately sided with Youkilis and, in effect, empowered the players–not Valentine.

This is what went down:

Valentine said Youkilis wasn’t “as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past.” (Boston Herald).

Ben Cherington then took out the scissors and snipped off Bobby’s manhood. He came out and said:

“First of all, the way he expressed that was not the best way to express that. He said the same thing to Kevin and apologized. I think we’ll all learn from it and be able to handle it differently.” (CBS Boston)

To put the cherry on top of the situation, Dustin Pedroia publicly criticized Valentine after the Youkilis Incident. Pedroia decided to remind Valentine, “That’s not the way we do things around here” (Boston Herald).

Pedroia seemed to forget the way the Red Sox did things got Terry Francona fired.

That was in April. April. Bobby V. never had a chance in Boston. He was basically forced to apologize for being himself. Boston’s front office knew what they were getting in Valentine but seemed shocked when he simply acted like the manager he has always been.

Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe wrote:

“Valentine came with a reputation for being a pot-stirrer and verbally provocative. And yet, at the first sign of provocation, Red Sox officials effectively neutered Valentine.”

Yes, it was a miserable season for Boston. They finished the season at 69-93, their worst record since 1965 (h/t Boston Globe). Ok, so Valentine had to go. He seemingly never had control of Boston’s clubhouse—but Francona also lost control of the clubhouse. Two managers, two failed seasons, two drama filled years.Who’s really to blame for that?

The managers changed, many of the players changed—the only constant over the past two seasons has been ownership.

Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino said today:

“This year’s won-loss record reflects a season of agony. It begs for changes, some of which have already transpired. More will come. We are determined to fix that which is broken and return the Red Sox to the level of success we have experienced over the past decade. Difficult as it is to judge a manager amid a season that had an epidemic of injuries, we feel we need to make changes. Bobby leaves the Red Sox’ manager’s office with our respect, gratitude, and affection. I have no doubt that he will continue to contribute to the game he loves so much and knows so well.” (Boston Globe)

Yes Larry, the win-loss record does beg for change. But what if the changes should come at an even higher level? What if your managers were not the problem? What if the “epidemic of injuries” was not the end-all be-all of the season? What if the problem is you?

Lucchino said they are determined to “fix that which is broken.” One fear Red Sox fans should have is this: what if Boston is broken at a deeper level? What if Red Sox ownership never truly does look in the mirror?

Peter Abraham wrote, “All too often, the Red Sox appeared disorganized, if not unprepared. The chasm between the manager’s office and the rest of the baseball operations staff was a wide one.”

That is not the fault of the manager. In any business it’s the job of management to create a culture of open communication. A culture of good decision making comes from the top. If Red Sox ownership does not find a way to bridge that chasm between the manager’s office and baseball operations, it won’t matter who the next manager of the Boston Red Sox turns out to be.

author avatar
Tom Fitzgerald