From Minor League Sports to a Major Resolution: Part 2

When Bobby Valentine was ejected from a Mets game and returned to the dugout with fake glasses and a mustache, I knew he was the man. Whether or not he’s the right man to manage the Red Sox is something plenty of people have their respective theories about, whether they’re a casual fan, a radio talk show host or someone in the local barber shop. I won’t claim to have the definitive answer about his ultimate impact in Boston, but I don’t know that there really is/will be one, unless something outlandish happens.

There’s been a lot made lately about how polarizing a figure Bobby V has been over the last few decades. Although he certainly did charm people with his press-conference performance last night, it doesn’t mean he’ll try to sell you a used car when the Sox are losing.

The Red Sox are too talented to miss the playoffs for a third straight year. If they end up on the golf course in early October next season, many fans and media members will demand Bobby’s head on a plate. That may be the easiest conclusion to draw from a result like that, but people shouldn’t forget that Terry Francona had the same issues at the end of the 2011 campaign. I don’t know any of the Sox players personally, but it’s not out of the question that whoever was the issue last year could still be one in 2012, even under a new manager. Players can be just as (and sometimes more) stubborn as management or anyone else for that matter. Failure may no longer be an acceptable word in the Red Sox’s 21st century dictionary, but it happens even to the best teams. Valentine shouldn’t emerge from such a season blameless either, but it’s unreasonable for him not to be given a learning curve after a ten-year MLB hiatus. (Here’s hoping said curve is less than a month.)

On the other hand, winning the World Series wouldn’t be the crowning moment for Bobby V. Of course he’ll deserve some of the credit for earning a title, but neither he nor anyone else can act as if this is his fourth grand franchise turnaround. For the first time in his career, Valentine has been handed a great team instead of a middling or mediocre one. The only way to get it to the next level this time is via a trophy and a duckboat parade. If the Sox win their first World Series since 2007– boy is that weird to say– Bobby will inevitably have had a hand in the team’s success, even if that means stepping back and let a leader or two emerge in the clubhouse at times.

It may be more interesting to take a stand one way or another on a guy so cut-and-dry as Bobby Valentine, but interesting doesn’t always mean accurate. In radio and TV, some personalities support the opposite side of an argument than they believe just to get a good discussion going. I’m not implying anyone around here is doing or has done that, but the point is, you don’t have to hate Bobby’s guts or love him to pieces. It may seem as if not having a strong opinion means you’re a terrible, fan, but it’s perfectly reasonable to be neutral on the guy right now.

(In fact, I have a couple of opposing opinions on him myself. For the record, I think Bobby is a good manager, but not a good fit in Boston. He’s pretty hilarious, but the jury is still out on whether that’s a good thing given the joke of September 2011.)

*****

If you liked this post, check out some of the other entries in the From Minor League Sports to a Major Resolution Series:

Part 1

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

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