|Among Bobby Valentine's recent acts of bizarre behavior was threatening to punch a radio show host. (US Presswire)|
Bobby Valentine is fighting a battle he cannot, and will not, win.
These are the last days of the massacre of Valentine, a manager done in by mounting losses and scorching wildfires, a caged bear surrounded by an angry mob poking at him with sharp sticks.
He will not manage the Red Sox next year because nobody is this patient. Somebody is going to snap and pull the plug. Either the Red Sox will reach their breaking point and relieve him of his duties, or Valentine will finally wake up one morning and say, "Who needs this?" if he hasn't already.
|More on Bobby Valentine|
You can argue that Bobby V already snapped when he threatened to punch Boston radio man Glenn Ordway in the mouth during a segment Wednesday in which Ordway asked point blank whether the manager already has "checked out."
I'm not going to pile on Bobby V here because I don't think that in and of itself this incident is as juicy as it appears.
For one thing, it was a radio interview conducted over the telephone. Valentine threatened him, but he didn't threaten him threaten him. Get over it.
Second, the guy's question was a cement brick hurled at Valentine's dignity and professionalism. Nobody should have to take that, and if you can't be a little more subtle and tactful in the asking, then nobody should be surprised when the response is a verbal fastball to the ribs. Sharp stick into the bear cage. The result is expected.
No, the damning thing here is when you take this incident in the larger context of everything else this season, stuff that systematically continues occurring that is embarrassing for both the Red Sox and to the manager.
What's happening now is no good for the Red Sox, who at this point can only salvage one thing from this season, and that's to start moving toward 2013. Right now, that ain't happening. Which is why they're closing in on the point where they're going to have to swallow hard and admit they screwed up by hiring hired Valentine in the first place.
What's happening now is no good for Valentine, still a baseball genius who, in another time and place, surely can still win at any level. That time and place clearly is not in Boston, and that is becoming more clear each day, which is why he must be reaching the end of his rope. His reputation is crashing and burning more spectacularly with each passing week. He doesn't need this.
Seriously, people are wondering about Valentine the way they're wondering about Clint Eastwood's mental state of being this week after the routine with the empty chair. This nine-game West Coast trip, it's been One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (yes, I know, Jack Nicholson, not Clint).
In Anaheim last week, Valentine inexplicably failed to leave the dugout and question umpires during the ninth inning of a game after Erick Aybar was awarded first base on a pitch that may not have even hit him in the leg. Then, asked about it after the game -- Aybar wound up scoring the tying run of a game Boston would lose -- Valentine went ballistic, saying the umpires should do their jobs properly and whether they do or not shouldn't be up to him.
In Oakland on Friday, Valentine didn't arrive in the clubhouse until 4:15 p.m., some three or four hours later than most managers arrive.
A couple of days later, when asked why Scott Podsednik was batting third and not in his customary leadoff spot, Valentine told reporters, "Is that what it says on the lineup? What the ... who knows? Maybe it will look good. I haven't seen it."
Then came Wednesday's off-the-wall WEEI radio interview, in which Valentine explained -- joked? -- that owner John Henry's "fact-finding" breakfast in Seattle with the manager this week was shaky because there was no brown sugar for Valentine's oatmeal and "John Henry's ham was overcooked." And in which the manager said one bright spot while biking around Puget Sound was that he was accompanied by a friend who wasn't afraid to be seen out in public with Valentine.
When Ordway asked Valentine about his late arrival in Oakland on Wednesday, after the "checking out" part of the interview, Valentine again went ballistic, explaining that he was picking up his 29-year-old son from the San Francisco airport and his son's flight was late. He explained that he phoned his coaches to tell them he would be late, said he had no idea that it was all over the Boston newspapers over the weekend and then took multiple, bizarre swipes at Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon.
Valentine pointed out that Maddon arrives at the ballpark at 3:30 pm or 4 pm not occasionally, but "every day."
By late Wednesday, Valentine was the butt of jokes all over the Internet, further diminishing his dignity and that of the Red Sox.
In Tampa, Maddon -- whose Rays are battling for first place in the AL East, by the way, and are dusting the Red Sox by 12 1/2 games -- fired back via Twitter: "Apologies to the writers for being late to today's pregame session. My pedicure appointment ran a little late."
Nobody needs this. Not Valentine, who also called this year "miserable" during his weekly radio appearance. Not the Red Sox, who still have an oil spill on their hands even after dealing away a quarter of a billion dollars in salaries last month.
The manager is fighting a battle he cannot win. The organization must plan for a future it can't afford to lose.
Bear in the cage. Sharp sticks.
The ending is inevitable.