The Boston Red Sox: A team in turmoil
No one’s saying it but the signs are right before our eyes. The Boston Red Sox have been a divided team.
The 25 man squad split into camps. One camp was thrilled to see Terry Francona “leave” town, another clique “upset” that he left, and still other players who just want to play baseball. Owner John Henry hires “old school” Bobby Valentine’s and despite concerns about his abrasive style, everyone hopes for the best. By the end of spring training not only players but front office staff were complaining about Bobby Valentine. Don’t know why anyone should complain or be surprised, that’s Bobby’s history.
Bobby Valentine’s been a lightning rod for trouble everywhere he’s managed. Most of it, self-imposed. The latest flap is over what he said about a Boston favorite, Kevin Youkilis. Valentine went on a local radio show and said, “Kevin Youkilis hasn’t been his old self.” The controversial manager should have stopped right there, but he didn’t. He had to add, “I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason!” OUCH…”Not in the game?”
Here we are ten games into the season and this manager is questioning if one of the club’s premier players has his head in the game? Sure, “Youk as his teammates call him is off to a bad start (.200) Valentine didn’t play him Monday night when the flap began. The first thing Youkilis did arriving at Fenway Park for Monday’s game was to search out Valentine for an explanation why he was singled out for criticism. He couldn’t understand why Valentine would say such a thing. Youkilis told a local radio station, “I’m more confused than anything, because I think everyone knows I go out and play the game as hard as I can, that’s just my style of play. I never was blessed with the raw tools…so I’ve always had to use playing the game as hard and with full effort my whole life. I don’t know any better, so that’s just the way I play.” Last night Texas crushed the Red Sox 18-3 – Youkilis up at bat four times..struck out four times.
Teammate Dustin Pedroia was quick to come to his teammates defense saying in no uncertain terms that the team won’t “tolerate” Valentine conducting his business that way! WHOA….the team won’t tolerate Valentine acting this way? Who is Pedroia speaking for? Ownership – management- all players. When did Pedroia become team spokesperson? I thought team Captain Jason Varitek retired. Before leaving the club did Varitek anoint Pedroia team Captain? Speaking up for a teammate is one thing, making sweeping generalizations that the “team won’t tolerate Valentine’s behavior” quite another. I have to wonder why the “silence” from team owner John Henry, team President Larry Lucchino, or General Manager Ben Cherington? I understand John Henry was on his yacht celebrating Patriot’s Day with the crew from Liverpool, England FC. In case you missed it Valentine did apologize to Youk for his remarks. saying, “I totally apologized, “Jesus,” the last thing in the world I want you to think that I’m criticizing you, I was just giving an answer to a question!”
I watched Valentine’s apology on television.. It was about as “sincere” as President Obama telling the Nation he has great plans for our economic future. This “flap” is far from being over. Baseball players have long memories. I started off this column by stating the Red Sox are a “divided”team. Knowing something about clubhouse dynamics, cliques, I can assure you Valentine’s knock on Youkilis has now brought 25 players together. They are now all in agreement Bobby Valentine is a major-league “JERK”, and can not be trusted. Last nite’s 18-3 loss to Texas, with the ace of the Boston pitching staff on the mound, Jon Lester, may be an indication of a very long, tedious season for bean-town fans.
The Boston Red Sox are a team in “turmoil”.