If you heard Bobby Valentine on WEEI's Big Show yesterday (listen here) you heard a man whose mental threads are becoming unwound. He's falling apart. He sounds like a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
I'm not surprised. I thought hiring Bobby Valentine was a bad decision, and I think every day he isn't fired is another bad decision. He's a psychological mess, and a complete joke of a manager.
How could the Red Sox not realize how stupid it was to insert a loudmouthed, divisive, cocky, harebrained manager in a clubhouse that was already in a state of chaos? It was like releasing a lion into a den of wolves then giving them all bath salts. The resulting carnage was inevitable. And foreseeable. Yet the Sox, as well as a good number of their fans, didn't see it coming.
Some thought Valentine would bring discipline to the disorder in the Sox clubhouse. What was that notion based on? He didn't have a disciplinarian's reputation with the Mets. He'd call a few players out through the media, but that was his massive ego at work, not his authority being exercised.
And being a manager in Japan doesn't require a drill sergeant type of manager. The players there are disciplined already. Keeping a Japanese clubhouse in order is like being a janitor at an OCD convention. The job is already done.
Why did the Red Sox, one of the premier franchises in the 21st century, stoop so low as to hire a manager that no MLB team wanted for 9 years? How did the team, and some of the fans, convince themselves that this guy was a Major League caliber manager? He helped create a cluster-fuck in New York, then no team wanted him for nearly a decade, and that didn't raise any red flags for the Sox?
Once again, the Red Sox Front Office thought they were smarter than everyone else.
Compounding the problem was the fact that the GM wanted somebody else to manage, but was overruled by the real power broker on Yawkey Way: Larry Lucchino. Then Bobby V tried to motivate Kevin Youkilis by calling him out in the press. One bark from Dustin Pedroia and Valentine tucked tail and ran. Lucchino and Red Sox ownership did nothing to back their man. They stayed out of the way, just like Valentine stayed out of the way when Pedroia and Alfredo Aceves were nose-to-nose this past weekend.
The ownership did nothing to support the bad manager that they hired despite the GM wanting someone else. That is a perfect demonstration of how dysfunctional things are with this team.
It's not fair to dump all the blame for this season on Valentine's shoulders. Had Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz done their jobs then Valentine would still be secure in his.
At the same time, Bobby V's season has been one bungle after another. He tries these zany, non-traditional motivational techniques. He called out Youkilis. He made that sarcastic remark to Will Middlebrooks. He leaves pitchers in games to build their confidence. He kept Aaron Cook in a game with his leg sliced open, probably in an attempt to encourage his players.
These things are too far out, too crazy. They don't motivate, they alienate.
It's not Valentine's fault that the ownership gave the players an audience when they whined about minor issues. But part of being a manager is to be respected and the players don't respect him. And neither do I. His cocky swagger masks an encyclopedia of psychological issues. Which wouldn't be a problem in and of itself except that his issues affect how he manages. And he's just not a good manager.
He deflects and redirects criticism instead of ignoring/absorbing it like Terry Francona did. He tries to use the media as a motivational tool instead of treating them as outsiders. He's inconsistent with how he treats players. He irritates and divides the clubhouse.
And ultimately, he can't get out of his own way.