Monday, March 5, 2012

Method to Bobby V's Madness?


Bobby Valentine, the former manager for The Other Team who's now managing The Scum, recently made some, shall we say, interesting comments.

He said, last Tuesday, that Derek Jeter didn't need to make his famous "Flip Play" during the 2001 American League Division Series.

He also fondly recalled when Varitek "beat up" Rodriguez in 2004 during a confrontation between A-Rod and the Boston catcher.

More like Varitek shoved his mitt in A-Rod's face, while keeping his own face protected by his catcher's mask. Much like former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee once said that the Yankees "fight like hookers swinging their purses." Purse is on the other shoulder, ain't it, Spaceman?

The day after these Valentine comments, A-Rod had the perfect response (something he's had difficulty with in the past but he nailed it here):

I'm not going to win many battles here when it comes to words, especially against Bobby. But I will tell you this: I've got my new press secretary that should be landing in the next couple days - Reggie Jackson - so I'll let him handle that.

Uh-oh. When it comes to making a statement, give Reggie an inch, and he'll take a light-year. Bobby V cannot handle, as Mr. October would say, "the magnitude of me."

Jeter's response?

I don't know Bobby well enough to tell you what he's trying to do. I don't know what to tell you. ... I'm indifferent.

In other words, Jeter was saying one of two things, either...

1. "Valentine can say whatever he wants, I don't care." Or...
2. "Who the hell is Bobby Valentine?"

As another reporter put it, "Instead of discussing his pitching staff, the health of his players, the Sox lineup, who is going to start in the first pre-season game and the potential holes in his roster, he chooses to spit random nonsense about a play that took a few seconds and happened 11 years ago. Does anyone else think this guy has some kind of baseball Tourettes Syndrome?"

*

As often as Valentine seems dumb, there is a method to this particular madness. The focus of the Boston media, that part of the New York media interested in the rivalry, and that part of the national media interested in the rivalry, is now on him, and thus they are more likely to leave his players alone.

This was a favorite tactic of Casey Stengel: Get the media to pay attention to you, and they won't be asking where Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford were last night.

So was this smart on Valentine's part? In the short term, oh yeah. Nobody's asking whether the big fat cheating liar David Ortiz has one more good year in him, or whether Carl Crawford will live up to his big fat contract this season, or whether the Sox' patchwork starting rotation will hold up over 162 games, or whether there will be an adequate successor to the closer role held these last 6 years by Jonathan Papelbon.

Incidentally, I think Paps made a huge mistake going to Philadelphia. Not that the Phillies aren't a great team. But if Paps thinks he had problems pitching in Fenway, then he is going to get lit up like a pinball machine in Citizens Bank Park. He's going to have the Philly Phaithful wishing Brad Lidge had been kept. He may singlehandedly end the Phils' streak of 5 straight National League Eastern Division titles. (Not that the Mutts would benefit, most likely it would be either the Braves or the Marlins.)

But in the long term, Bobby V may regret making himself the focus. The two hottest managerial seats in the majors are those of the Yankees and the Red Sox -- have been for the better part of 40 years, even (sometimes especially) when either or both teams were not in contention.

He seemed to have fun playing with the New York media. Well, the New York media knew him, from his days as a Met player.

The Boston media, the New England media, they only knew him as a faraway guy, or as an occasional visitor during Interleague games between the Sox and Mets, and before that while he was managing against the Sox for the Texas Rangers -- a job which, until they started winning Pennants 2 years ago, had hardly any pressure.

The pressure is on Valentine now.

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