Bobby Valentine. In Boston.
Baseball is baseball everywhere, but some markets are a better fit for certain personalities. Bobby V in Texas is OK. Bobby V in Boston does not feel like a fit.
The Red Sox begin a two-game series against the Texas Rangers in Boston on Tuesday. The season is not two weeks old and Bobby V made some headlines when he called out Kevin Youkalis.
Bobby V doesn't do it intentionally or with any malice, but things have a way of coming out of his mouth that sound wrong. Valentine managed the Texas Rangers from 1986 to 1992 when he was fired. He later managed in Japan and the New York Mets, so it's not as if this is a dumb baseball man.
He is bright. He can be charming. He is candid. He is camera-ready, and always good for a quote or a sound bite. It's also about Bobby Valentine. He is a story. That can work in some markets, but in Boston it feels like a match around dry wood.
What Boston needed was not necessarily another Terry Francona, but a baseball guy who understood he was not the story. Francona may not be a baseball genius or see the game the way Bobby V does numbers wise, but Francona was smart enough to be a side character in the Red Sox traveling circus.
Francona lasted because he won - two World Series, five playoffs - and because he managed personalities, and the media. Other than the Yankees, there is no harder gig in baseball than Red Sox manager. How you handle those who cover the team on a daily basis is almost as important in how you manage a starting rotation.
Tito was on the Texas Rangers' staff in 2002 when I covered the team, and he had the ability to roll with things as well as anyone. I vividly recall an '02 spring training game in Florida when a group of rowdy Phillies fans were mocking and ridiculing Tito, who had managed the Phillies in the late '90s. As he walked towards the dugout towards the fans, he waved and shot them a wide, sincere, smile. The fans were immediately happy, and Francona had made friends for life.
Francona had a way of difusing situations easily, whereas Valentine's personality will likely only encourage them. Valentine has a way of creating something where there is nothing. That's OK if you are in Texas. That's dangerous in Boston.
Much of the Red Sox job is about difusing situations, which is why Bobby Valentine in Boston never made any sense.
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