“People say crazy things/Just ’cause I said it, don’t mean that I meant it/Just ’cause you heard it.”
These lyrics from an Adele song could also pass off as thoughts from one Bobby Valentine over the last month or so.
Best known as the manager of the Texas Rangers in the late ’80s and early ’90s as well as the New York Mets over the turn of the century, he was hired by ESPN as a baseball analyst in 2003 shortly after he parted ways with the Amazin’s. He took a five-year hiatus from broadcasting – and American living – as he managed the Chiba Lotte Marines baseball team in Japan, and despite a Japan Series championship, his tenure there didn’t end well. Even as he returned to the Worldwide Leader in 2009, his name was linked to as many as eight baseball managerial jobs over the ensuing three years. This as he was part of a new three-man booth that replaced the longtime duo of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan on “Sunday Night Baseball.”
In the fall of 2011, he was hired as the new manager of the Boston Red Sox in a two-year deal. And based on his team’s performance this season, it’s widely speculated that he won’t even survive to manage next season.
His September 5 appearance on Boston’s popular sports radio station WEEI didn’t seem to help matters. At that point, the Red Sox were 63-74, and Valentine, during his weekly segment on “The Big Show,” was asked by Glenn Ordway if he had “checked out” as playoff qualification seemed nowhere in sight.
“If I were there right now, I’d punch you right in the mouth,” a fiery Bobby V responded. “What an embarrassing thing to say.”
I should mention that he punctuated the request to “punch” Ordway “in the mouth” with a “ha ha.” Apparently, many people missed that, and he had to actually clarify that his threat was actually a joke – hence, the “ha ha.”
“People say crazy things. Just ’cause I said it, don’t mean that I meant it. Just ’cause you heard it.”
The Red Sox would win just a quarter of their games over the next three weeks (6-18) leading up to the Fenway Park season finale on this Wednesday night. So far, Valentine had only won 34 of 81 games at the Green Monster, as his club now has to battle the monster that is the AL East cellar and win games against the Orioles and Yankees in their ballparks.
And the only history that he’s made as far as stats are concerned was setting the team record for most ejections in a season, with six. That came exactly one week after his tomfoolery of a threat to a radio host.
Before the Fenway finale, Valentine was asked about his chances of returning in 2013.
“There hasn’t been any dialogue… Which makes me think I’m coming back. I don’t know.”
For someone who seemed pessimistic about his future with the Red Sox, he sure sounded downright optimistic when he said this about the struggles and issues that impeded the team’s playoff chances this year: “All those variables are things I feel I’m prepared to handle. When I come back next year, I think I’m prepared to handle them. Hopefully, we’ll have better results.”
Let me repeat: “When I come back next year…”
The Red Sox are in the midst of their first losing season in fifteen years, and are on the precipice of losing 90 or more games for the first time in nearly a half-century – this on what was supposed to be a festive 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. If a losing record wasn’t bad enough, 2012 had been marred by the deaths of “the voice of Fenway Park,” Carl Beane, and former Red Sox infielder, manager and broadcaster Johnny Pesky. Even David Ortiz was involved in what could have been a devastating traffic accident (he’s okay).
Yet when it came to managing the 2012 Red Sox, Valentine acknowledged: “There’s not much I would have done differently.”
Let’s just assume for argument’s sake that the Red Sox gave Bobby V the ax. Once again, he’d be looking for work – but will he even entertain the thought of working for another baseball club after such an execrable season in Boston?
Or will he making a third go-round at ESPN? That’s provided they’ve got room for him. While they could likely accommodate him to rejoin their dozen resident baseball analysts, Bobby V might consider that a step down from his previous position at the Worldwide Leader. And I don’t think that Terry Francona is going to approve of Bobby Valentine replacing him in two jobs in as many years.
Then again, he still has his verified Twitter account, still reflecting his association with ESPN. Granted, he hasn’t used it since last August – nor has he worked for ESPN since last fall – but it’s there.
Of course, there are other sports broadcasting outlets that might be vying for his services, as well, such as MLB Network.
Bobby Valentine’s managing days may be coming to an end – but with an unmatched personality that transcends from the dugout to the studio, something tells me he has yet to “check out” of broadcasting anytime soon.
No matter how much he insists he’ll be back with the Red Sox next season.
Just ’cause he said it, doesn’t mean that he means it.