Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An Elvis Man Should Love It

You don't know how close I came to not saying any more about this. But it applies directly to my theory about Bobby Valentine, so I can't ignore it. On April 3rd on this blog, I said this about having V as our manager:

[...] my big concern was the possibility of him saying and doing things as my team's skipper that make him "bigger than the team," causing strife that leads to a downward spiral of losing. [...] However [...] I realized something. [...] Who decides if someone's behavior is "bigger than the team"? The media. A public figure could say anything in the world. Even if you read their exact quote or hear them saying the words, the effect it has is all based on how the media spins it.

And now we've reached the first big...well...before I go any further, listen to the initial comments V made, when asked about Youk having a slow start:

At this point, I feel like Mia Wallace: "Marcellus throwing Tony out a four-story window for massaging my feet seemed reasonable to you?" This is what set everybody off? Oh wait, not "everybody," the media. We've got V being asked about Youk shitting the bed (I said myself here that he looked "lost" at the plate during his slump). And V saying that he seems to have been struggling and not himself both on the field and in the way he's carrying himself, but that he's turned it around and will be fine. I take that as a manager defending his player, or, ironically, "having his back," which is what the media turned this into the opposite of.

From there, the sewing circle went right to Youk and asked him....I don't know what their questions were because I don't see that anywhere, but they were looking for a reaction, and somehow Youk starts defending himself as someone who busts his tail and all that. Which he does. But V wasn't saying Youk wasn't trying to be his best or that he was purposely not being the same, attitude-wise. He was saying that what Youk was doing wasn't working...but that it now is and he expects it to continue. So who knows how the media asked him, or if Youk saw the interview as opposed to read or heard a re-telling of it. Because I'm thinking if he had seen it, he would have only said, "That's cool, my manager has my back," as opposed to "hey, how come my manager doesn't have my back?"

Now the stitch 'n' bitchers move over to Pedroia's locker, and continue the game of telephone by asking him what he thinks about V's "calling out" of Youk, and if it was supposed to be motivation! That word came from nobody but the media. So of course when Dustin hears the media's opinion that V thinks Youk doesn't play hard, and is asked if that was a some kind of motivation tactic, Dustin semi-laughingly says it's ridiculous and not the way things are done. And now all the fans, seeing the written words of Dustin, who was responding to something completely made up, are in an uproar! It's player vs. manager, what will we do?! And you've got the "keep it in the clubhouse" people, who A. are being told what happens there by a media that makes up whatever it wants then quotes players on their reactions to it and B. wanted Tito gone so that there'd be an "open clubhouse" in the first place.

So the media has already started the vicious cycle. But fear not! As you recall, I had a solution at the ready. The media lends me their wives for a weekend in Hawaii, and we're square. No wait... it was:

all Bobby has to do is take the power away from the media.

And the way to do that is to keep being his nutty self, to the point that in three months, there will have been so many little moments like this, we won't even remember this one. And to not get caught up in the media's web of lies and start backtracking. And soon all they'll have left to say is the ultra-creative "that's just Bobby being Bobby." He did apologize in this case, but remember, he didn't apologize to us for what he said about Youk, because he knows he meant no harm. He explained how he apologized to Youk if his feeling were hurt. Because he never called him out for not playing hard. Unless of course you have that magic media microscope that lets you "read between the lines" and see that incredibly their opinion of what a guy really means is always right!

Did V "sound convincing" in his explanation? Well of course not, because he's a freak of nature who never learned human-speak. He's like a parrot, mimicking words and even inflections and doing a damn good job of it, but not necessarily knowing what he's saying. But his explanation makes sense, at least to me, no matter how long it took him to come up with the right words.

I shit you not, I read the following quote from Rob Neyer (thanks to Joy of Sox): "If [Valentine] says another stupid thing or two in the next month, he's probably gone. "

Oh yeah! Bring it on, guys! Just go all out here. Get the water cooler crowd to start thinking the Red Sox are about to fire their outspoken new manager in April because he--gasp--spoke out! About fucking nothing. Jesus GD Christ, people. So I'm sitting here going, With V at the helm, there will be countless chances to start controversy, because we all know he speaks his mind, and Rob Neyer is thinking, "Oh my god you guys, the manager said something that could be misconstrued as Youk has no heart, he's gonna get soooo fired!" Has this guy ever heard of Bobby Valentine before this year? Or have the media's attempts to get readers just lost all subtlety?

You know what else is funny? After today's game, Shaughnessey (it sounded like him, anyway) asked V what he felt about the crowd's reaction to him coming out to remove Bard a batter too late. You could tell he was rubbing his hands together, ready to write his "Grady Little returns" article. But you know what V said? He said that he agreed with the fans! That he'd have been pissed too, because he left Bard in too long! That's what I mean by taking the power away from the media. Without "Non Youk Call-Out Gate," today's "controversy" would have been about leaving Bard in too long. Because of course every Red Sox loss has to come complete with signs that the team is doomed. But Bobby would have diffused the situation with his answer. And, again, these guys can still spin it any way they want, but the sooner we all realize V says whatever strikes him at that moment, and that that happens a lot, the sooner it'll numb every single contrived controversy.

Look, we all know how awesome Tito was. I even said we'd start calling him "Grancona" because a few weeks with any other manager would make us realize how much we took him for granted. But we've known for quite some time that V is our guy, and we know exactly what his deal is. This guy's been putting his foot in his mouth since he played for the Spokane Indians. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth. Think about that this way: Br'er Rabbit was born in a briar patch. That means if you throw him in one, he's totally fine. Bobby's had that foot in there so long, he can't fit another one in if he tried. So how's accusing him of putting his foot in his mouth gonna offend him? We hired him knowing about all that. And now people are saying "he thinks he's bigger than the team!"? Now? After I've already recognized the possibility and come up with a remedy for it in the off-season? Come on people, you gotta catch on to what's going on here. I tried to warn you. The media can make anything bigger than the team, and V's the easiest target of all time. We can't let one thing get to us. And the team can't either. Of course, winning always helps. So let's continue to ignore the media and just win.

I agree entirely with this article in relation to the media and the spin they are putting on everything to create controversy and try to paint the worst picture etc. Clearly (as usual) this will have an effect on the more rabid fans who are just looking for an excuse to overreact to each non/overblown story that is reported.

Unfortunately however irrespective of the media's hype etc it doesn't change the fact that after 10 games Valentine has already apologised 4 times for poor calls by himself (or lack thereof) in terms of using the pitchers (all on video so no misrepresentation by the media for once). Now whilst apologising is fine up to a point these are decisions that a seasoned manager with his undoubted knowledge of the game simply shouldn't be making.

We have lost 6 games and 2 of those we lost leads due to his poor decision making and 2 more we went from a late innings tie to lose because of him directly. That simply can't continue as it is one thing to be battling injuries, a perceived weakness in the pen/rotation/roster it is quite another when you are trying to retrieve a losing situation created by your manager 30-40% of the time.

I wish it was as simple as ignoring the media and winning but right now it feels like we have to hope for no poor handling of the pitchers by Valentine too.

I have become adept at ignoring the media (haven't we all had to lol) but ignoring a manager who leaves pitchers in way too long and has either no one warmed up to replace a struggling pitcher or has someone who is clearly not the man for that particular situation warming up is not going to get us to the postseason unless they extend the wildcards to another 3 or 4 in each league ;-)

I will continue to ignore the media as they attempt to create issues out of thin air but watching Valentine sit/stand there ignoring all the evidence that we can all see with our own eyes is a darned sight harder to ignore.
Thanks for your comment.

I'm not too sure we can blame the losses just on V. As far as his decisions and stuff, we have to wait longer than just a few games to see how it goes....I mean we just took three of four from the Rays, and were a run away from sweeping 4.
Mom here.

Excuse me, Jere, but I like your yesterday attitude better. The last line here should read: ...we just took 3 of 4 from the Rays and were five inexcusably moronic calls in a row from sweeping 4. And I am really pissed at Remy's spin in the middle of it: The umpire's been generous in these last couple of innings. I hope that guy is working Friday. Since you're getting me to the anniversary game so early, I'll be able to lay in wait and start hurling insults (and possibly a beer) at him the minute he's on the warning track. Maybe I'll make a big sign of the imaginary strike zone you put up on yesterday's blog and put it in front of every camera I see. Course, by Friday there'll probably be 80 other things pissing me off and maybe I'll have calmed down besides.
Yes but that run away from the sweep was all down to Valentine, no one else as Bard was clearly done. Valentine has already cost us in games leaving others in too long and/or not having pitchers prepared to come in.

I am not blaming him for all the losses, 2 definitely and 2 games we were tied until his mismanagement so at most 4, going with close games will split you can say 3 and if we still lose the two tied games 2. However, we all know how close this division probably will be (well at least as far as us making the postseason) and a blown save here or there is going to happen of course but that doesn't mean the manager should be actively handing games to the opposition by not doing the basics right.

Sorry but why do we need to wait to judge him on this ? This is game calling 101 and if he can't get the basics right with his long career, knowledge etc then I don't see what difference there will be 20, 30, 40 games in compared to now.

The fact that he has already apologised 4 times for messing up the pitching (and he isn't renowned for apologising as he rarely thinks he is wrong about anything, even his biggest fans say that) is a fairly big warning sign that he simply isn't in touch in real time managing any more. Maybe he needs better help from the coaching team around him, hard to know as we don't know who is saying what to him and when but if no one in that group is seeing the misuse of our pitchers and having at least a vague idea when to replace them then that is very worrying to say the least.
The offense scored zero runs yesterday. The Bard decision wouldn't even matter if we'd scored a couple. You can't blame yesterday's loss on one person.

And they hired a guy who hadn't managed in a while, that was their call, not mine. I don't know, I just don't see it the same way--are his decisions really costing the team more than any other managers' have? Doesn't he get credit for winning any of these games? Also, wouldn't you rather have a manager that admits his mistakes? Which might just be his way of taking the heat away from the players and putting it on himself, another thing he's known to do? When I look at the negatives of this team, I don't immediately think "poor managerial decisions," but that's just me.
And if Bard had been removed when it was clear he was done the Rays would have scored no runs either so either side could have gone on and won the game.

Have to say it is rare that I disagree with your excellent observations but I am wondering what you have missed so far this season. Struggling to find anyone anywhere who hasn't been critical of the poor management of this team in terms of in game decisions...there are so many examples that you would think a season had passed rather than a 1/16th of one.

I have no problem with a manager admitting his mistakes but shouldn't he learn by them and not repeat them ? I would give him full credit for admitting mistakes, a good character trait to have, but a failure to learn from them is quite another thing.

I see plenty of negatives in this team and have been very open that I don't see this team making the postseason. The Rays (despite the series just gone), Rangers, Angels and Tigers I feel are all better balanced to make the postseason and the Yankees don't particularly impress me but they have the knack of doing what is needed to get into the postseason (in a way that has escaped us the past couple of years).

Couple of good articles that discuss the inexplicable decision making from Valentine far better than I could -


Clicked one article, saw this opener

"When news first broke that Bobby Valentine was going to be the new manager for the Boston Red Sox, the mood lay somewhere between panic and resignation for most of us."

Stopped reading. I've long said the guy's on some kind of mind-altering drugs, but to think that he's a bad baseball manager is ridiculous. You can't look at a couple of games in a season and make all these judgements, it's preposterous. I'm on the JoS message board and every time a bad thing happens somebody says how the team is done, they're "bad," they don't "have what it takes," and that this guy should be fired, and that guy isn't fit to pitch because of one bad inning. Then the next day the Red Sox win 10-0 and look like a WS winner. And that's a board of mostly intelligent people! Just let the season play out a little bit. If you're looking for negatives, you're gonna find 'em.

Even Tito said he aw the decision to keep in Bard as one that could benefit him in the long run this season.
Well it helps to read the rest of the article as he went on to say how he slowly came around to looking forward to Valentine over the winter as more came out about Valentine and his history etc To be fair I agree you can find negative if you look for it but surely sticking your head in the sand and just plain ignoring all the evidence is hardly any better ??

Tito had no choice what to say, think about it. Tito said one tiny thing in preseason and the media blew it up out of all proportion into a Tito v Valentine thing so clearly an intelligent man like Tito is not going to say anything that could be perceived as a slight on Valentine now as it will only cause more furore in the rabid media. Tito is walking a fine line and staying on it by not being even vaguely controversial when it comes to anything about the Sox that directly has anything to do with Valentine, and who can blame him.

Tito, as a proud man, will quite rightly defend his corner re the poor treatment from the FO via the leaked stories after he left as that is a Valentine-free zone but you can be sure he won't criticise anything Valentine does, or indeed his players for as long as Valentine is there.

If your whole defence is to not read anything, apparently not actually watch what is going on and to trot out a guarded safety first set of comments from Tito then not a lot anyone can say really.

As I have said I am a big fan of your work and appreciate it even when we disagree (which is rare). However, if you genuinely have not seen anything wrong/strange about Valentine's handling of starters, relievers, inability to pull pitchers in time, inability to have the right pitcher ready etc in any games so far then I can only say you have been mightily distracted so far and not really been watching the games.

Being out of the game as a manager for a while has no bearing on anything by the way as you don't need to have been a manager to see these strange decisions in real time so if a non-manager can see them why shouldn't he ? Oh wait, he has, and has repeatedly apologised but not learnt.

Not sure how you can deny the evidence when the culprit has admitted so much of it himself ?

Got to say even on games he has no responsibility for us losing, like last nights against the Rangers he still manages to make a bonehead move. If there is a justification for bringing in our long relief man in the bottom of the 8th trailing when trailing by 13 runs I would love to hear it. Even on NESN they had made the obvious assertion that in a dead game like that surely Darnell would come in and go through the motions rather than wasting one of our most useful assets out of the pen meaninglessly.

Just another poor move. With Melancon crashing and burning the last thing we need is to waste Padilla with a meaningless inning in a game we trail by 13.

I want Valentine to succeed, and hope he turns things around, But right now his decision making is just so wrong, not innovative, not intelligent, but just plain wrong. You can almost see him in the press conferences cringing at his own choices when asked about them and I am beginning to wonder if he is just finding the whole thing a bit daunting after a while out of the pressure.
Sad thing is with our media it won't get any easier and with apparently so little support from his coaches (who I blame just as much as they should at least be advising and most of the time Valentine seems to be at a distance, although of course that could just be poor timing with cameras etc and not a true reflection).

Just because a writer/blogger etc may have a specific agenda and I don't doubt the linked articles writer does, doesn't mean there isn't truth's to be found. I linked them to you so you could see the examples as I really can't fathom how you are missing the examples, the spin put on it by the writer can be ignored easily enough so you make your own conclusions but the examples are incredibly damning..

But if you want to be as rigid and unwielding in your views as the writer of those articles is then that of course is your choice :-)

Oh and I gave up on the message boards a long time ago as I agree with your comments re the posters. However, again that doesn't mean that a person isn't making a good point from time to time. Dismissing an entire format based on some people is incredibly short-sighted. After all, I know people who refuse to read blogs because they think they are just people writing anything from behind a keyboard with no accountability. Now if people all took that attitude (which has a kernel of truth to it on occasions much like your opinion of the message board people does) then there would be no blogs and no articles like yours either. Fine line...

Anyway will leave it there as finding it fairly disappointing that you aren't even considering the fairly clear evidence in the bulk of the games so won't check back on this post so you have peace and quiet again :-)
Putting a relief pitcher in a blowout game is the wrong decision, and risking an injury to a position player by putting him on the mound is the right one? I'm sure the media would totally praise Bobby the next day after that, and all the fans would totally not call him crazy and say he's so incompetent that we've got a position player on the mound in game #11.

I didn't dismiss an entire format at all. I'm on that JoS board for many of the games, and most people like I said are intelligent, but you deal with some vey reactionary comments. Like a guy throwing ONE good inning in game #1 and it's "I'm thinking this guy should be our closer" or seeing ONE bad game and saying "I'm not sure we have what it takes to compete with the better teams in the league."

I have watched pretty much every inning and I'm not finding myself going "what the hell is this guy doing???"

And Tito's on ESPN, he's saying whatever the hell he wants. Aren't V's "apologies" part of "walking a fine line" like you say Tito is whenever he speaks? Why are you taking V's words as what he means and Tito's as not what he means? I never know why people seem so sure of what every single person means when they speak, as if it's so obvious.

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