The end of the 2011 Major League Baseball season was one that will always be remembered for those of us who watched all of it play out over the four-plus hours on the final day of the season. For as much as it was baseball poetry for many of us, the story of certain teams’ success also meant the failure of others.
The 2011 Boston Red Sox became one of the biggest collapses in sports history. The story has been written out plenty so I won’t beat a dead horse. The fallout was the dismissal of manager Terry Francona, amongst other things.
So when the search began for a new manager, the Red Sox set their sights on a few options. They eventually landed former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine. Valentine has been no stranger to controversy. From wearing disguises in the dugout after being ejected and being outspoken, often negatively, of his own club and organization, Valentine has often found himself in the headlines.
This year, Valentine quickly drew the ire of both Red Sox fans as well as the players he managed, when he criticized third baseman Kevin Youkilis for what Valentine perceived to be “dogging it” on the field. Youkilis, who has always been known for his hard work and dedication on the field, never was able to reconcile with Valentine.
So on June 24 with the Red Sox tied for last place in the American League east with a 37-34 record, and sitting five and a half games back, the Red Sox made a deal with the White Sox and dealt Youkilis to Chicago.
For the past few years, I had often wondered why Valentine wasn’t getting opportunities to manage a big league club. He was often viewed as the frontrunner for many jobs over the years (take the season following 2010 for the Milwaukee Brewers for example), but nothing ever came of it. Valentine, while extremely quirky, has a brilliant baseball mind. His 1117-1072 (.510 winning percentage) career managerial record heading into this season would back that statement up.
But while I had hoped to see Valentine manage again in the majors, my immediate reaction to his hiring in Boston was “this is going to be a disaster.” Valentine is a manager who creates headlines. The Red Sox created enough of their own headlines last season with a seemingly out of control locker room that was lost by Terry Francona.
The Youkilis/Valentine squabble is the latest addition to Valentine’s reputation. It is also the reason the White Sox are no longer looking for a third baseman. Since coming to Chicago, Youkilis is hitting .323/.416/.523 with three home runs and 15 RBI in 17 games, hitting in the two spot for manager Robin Ventura. He has been a huge upgrade from the production the White Sox were previously getting from Brent Morel and Orlando Hudson.
So at the trade deadline, if the White Sox are able to pick up a pitcher, you can look at the early disagreement between Youkilis and Valentine as a reason. After all, they didn’t have to try and improve at the hot corner. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Ventura and Kenny Williams are certainly enjoying Valentine’s garbage.
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