Saturday, September 15, 2012

It's Gonna Be the Winter of Bobby

Last winter Bobby Valentine wanted to be back in major league baseball in the worst way, and that's exactly what happened to him. Now he wants out as badly as he wanted in -- probably more.

Remember the "Seinfeld" episode where George tries to get fired from the Yankees? The one where he drove around the parking lot with a World Series trophy tied to the back of his car? That's been Bobby Valentine's M. O. since about the All-Star break.

It speaks unpleasant volumes about both the media coverage of the Red Sox and the self-alleged "most knowledgeable fans in baseball" that very few of either group has detected this obvious pattern of  employment suicide-by-unbecoming-conduct.  But after last night, when Valentine mocked his own players, dawn ought to light on a million Marblehead shores.

Of course, Valentine will just say he was being sarcastic towards Red Sox critics. He may be short on ways to communicate with players, or rationales for in-game decision but Valentine's always got an explanation for his unendearing stunts. They shouldn't fool anybody. He is desperately seeking to attain two simultaneous objectives: not managing the Red Sox next season while still getting paid the back half of his two-year contract.

Nothing wrong with that. Two point five million is money worth fighting for, worth fighting dirty for. Valentine's never been one to stand on his dignity, and he's more than sharp enough to know he will never get closer to a dugout than the broadcast booth ever again. Why not make yourself look ridiculous to make a ridiculous situation intolerable to your employers? After all, aside from being daft enough to take the job in the first place, very little of Valentine's tenure in the manager's office has been his fault. He was obviously the wrong man for the job, so blame goes to the hirers, not the hiree.

 Valentine's wacky self-immolation has been unnecessary. Having been given the managers' job for purely symbolic reasons, as a gesture Sox management was going to "get tough" with the players who made all the fans so angry last September, he is destined to be fired for equally symbolic reasons, as a gesture by management to complete its Soviet-history-style erasure of the 2011-2012 Boston franchise while leaving themselves in the photograph of the troop review from the podium of Red Sox Square.  No 2013 Red Sox player, and more to the point, no potential 2013 Red Sox customer, is going to take the idea that the franchise is starting over seriously if the Bobby V clown act is still in place. Avoiding that is worth way more than $2.5 million to Fenway Sports Group.

If I'm wrong, and the Sox can't bring themselves to fire Valentine as the regular season ends, look for Bobby to fake his own death at sea on the team's winter promotional cruise.


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