In competition for dumbest first-year manager, it's no contest
Bobby Valentine hurt a player's feelings, Ozzie Guillen needlessly upset a large segment of a franchise's fans
Believe it or not, the question has come up more than once on my twitter feed (@JonHeymanCBS): Who's comments were dumber, Ozzie Guilen's or Bobby Valentine's?
People people. This shouldn't be so hard.
Valentine questioned whether one of his players is as "into the game'' as he once was. Guillen opined that he "loved'' and "respected'' a murderous dictator for his ability remain alive and in power for decades.
Valentine saw Kevin Youkilis from afar looking like the most intense player anyone's ever seen, and Valentine suggested he hasn't seen that guy yet. Big deal.
Guillen, in an apparent attempt to show his amazement that Fidel Castro has remained in power, lauded an evil dictator who is responsible for murdering thousands and tearing apart tens of thousands of families. Not good.
Valentine's remark regarding Youkilis, "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason,'' reflected an early impression about a player who has a rep for giving it his all every minute of the time. It's not possible to do that, of course, and the reality is that everyone, even ever-intense players, have down times.
Valentine only suggested he hasn't seen the Youkilis he expected yet. Valentine's "into the game'' wording was translated as a questioning of Youkilis' commitment, which might have made it sound more serious than it was.
Guillen explained later that he was trying to show his shock that Castro was still around considering how many folks who hated him. Guillen has suggested that his laudatory words were only meant to apply to Castro's surprising staying power. That may be so. But let's face it, folks, Guillen's words were nothing short of moronic.
There is a tiny bit of commonality between the two: The one error both men made is that you have to know your audience.
Players and fans in Boston are going to favor a guy who helped them win championships over a new manager in town with a rep for stirring the pot, so it shouldn't have been a shock Red Sox team leader Dustin Pedroia rushed to Youkilis' defense. Red Sox players are also used to Terry Francona, who coddled the players for eight years (maybe if some of them hadn't taken advantage last year, he'd still be there).
Meanwhile, nearly every person in Miami understandably views Castro as the devil. This fact should be obvious to anyone who's spent a season there, much less been a resident there for a decade like Guillen.
Right or not, Valentine's words were merely an opinion about what he's seen early, reflecting some disappointment so far. Valentine is a calculating fellow, and he may be trying to to nudge Youkilis to get back to being Youkilis. Or maybe, he simply miscalculated. He has to know things get blown up beyond reason in Boston. But to this degree?
As for Guillen, he's there to sell the Marlins to a town of people who are a tough sell. He was hired in part to attract the largely Latino community, but instead he figuratively spit in their faces.
Here's the biggest difference between the remarks of the respective first-year managers: Valentine hurt a player's feelings, Guillen needlessly upset a large segment of a franchise's fans.