Faced with the unfortunate reality of watching The Herd while at the gym, I was beseiged by Colin Cowherd’s rant on Boston’s latest mistake. The Red Sox hiring Bobby Valentine as their manager is, according to Cowherd, like combining a stick of dynamite and a volcano.
Clap if you love ludicrous analogies.
He then played some statements made by former Red Sox Curt Schilling, who was “stunned” by the hire. Schilling said, “In my mind, there was a list of candidates and if there was 50 of them, he wasn’t on that … I didn’t see him as being a guy on their list as a target for them and what they want to do and with this group of players.”
Cowherd himself then provided a grain of salt for all this wisdom when, seconds later, he said that Chan Ho Park is Japanese.
Point being, these guys are wrong as least as often as they’re right.
To a degree, Curt Schilling is justified in being confused by Valentine’s hire. After all, Bobby V. presided over the Mets’ epic collapse in 2002 which was only narrowly surpassed by Boston’s choke job this season.
But Curt Schilling’s favorite sound is Curt Schilling. The guy seems to know everything about everything, and plenty of Red Sox fans are immune to his chatter for good reason.
Chan Ho park is Korean. And Bobby Valentine is hardly as volatile as dynamite. Like the hire or hate it, it’s time to shut up and get ready for 2012.
The decision has been made, and fans, players, and the media have two choices. They can either continue to pick at the choice, hoping to justify their own opinions by contributing to divisiveness, or they can appreciate what the club’s ownership is trying to do. Terry Francona was a great manager. Terry Francona was quiet and level-headed. Terry Francona was well-liked. The man won two titles and should be commended; had he signed a contract extension most of us would have perfectly happy to retain him.
However, being liked wasn’t enough in 2011. And to whatever degree you believe the rumors and gossip plaguing the franchise, this team needed a change.
Francona was not a rah-rah guy. He wasn’t in-your-face, or brash, or cocky. He blended in. Valentine is none of things, in some cases to his own detriment. But Valentine has a track record both in and out of baseball that’s hard to argue with. Yes, he’s had his downs, but overall, the man has known more than his share of success.
That’s no coincidence.
The Red Sox are a team full of big egos and big talent, and the way they were going ended in disaster. it didn’t work. When something doesn’t work, you change it. If Valentine fails to bring a title to Boston, at least the club will have tried something new.
Trying must precede winning.
The players, like the public, can now choose one of two paths. If they bridle under Valentine’s leadership, it will only prove that they’re more interested in themselves. Assume, for a moment, that the worst we’ve heard about Bobby V. is true. How many of you like your bosses? This is a point in Red Sox history where being respected is more important than being popular. This club needs to pull itself together.
The players, collectively representing an obscene amount of skill (and money), have an opportunity here. Valentine can make a team better. His methods may chafe, but it’s the results that matter.
Perhaps these players need a little chafing. Perhaps some big shots need to be uncomfortable. The hanging out, the video games, the general lack of interest– that’s got to go. Performance will always outweigh intangibles, and fans who hold heart and hustle in highest esteem are misplacing their faith. But at the same time, it’s hard to think that the Sox cared much during September. It’s hard to think that they “wanted it” enough. When a team hits a slide like that, heart, desire, motivation–call it whatever you want, it comes into play.
If nothing else, Valentine is motivated. A look at his life suggests that the man is obsessed with being the best at everything he does. Is that attitude not exactly what this team needs right now?
Baseball is a business, and specifically a business of winning. If we want to question Valentine’s hire let’s do it only after he fails to win with a group of willing players. And that last bit is key; without the players he can accomplish nothing.
Valentine is thrilled to be managing in Boston. He wants to win, and the players should want that too, above all else. It’s time everyone concerned to stop the whining. Get over your purported shock or disappointment or confusion. Boston has a great chance to win in the short-term, if all parties work together to get that done.