It has been a difficult season for the Boston Red Sox, and for fans like me. The team has exactly as many wins as losses following a 5-0 shut out by the Minnesota Twins on August 2. They are about to set a record for most players on the disabled list in a season. And accounts continue to leak out that the team - from the players to the front office - is a back-stabbing, dysfunctional mess.
Who would blame manager Bobby Valentine if he had had enough?
Increasingly, it seems like Bobby V may want out. His verbal shots at players and staff and, at times, his bosses, are more thinly veiled as the season staggers along. Sure, he could quit. But he wouldn't get paid for the rest of this season or, critically, the second season of his contract if he just walked away. In the meantime, he keeps saying things that will certainly not endear him to anyone around the Red Sox.
Late in July, in a series against the New York Yankees, left fielder Carl Crawford found himself on the bench for a game against starter CC Sabathia, against whom he has had a good deal of success. Valentine placed the blame on the medical staff, saying Crawford was on a program that limited him to four playing days in a row, but that he didn't agree with the policy and had ignored it in the past.
"Actually, I did a manager 'no-no' thing, you know," Valentine said mockingly. "I went against what I was told to do. Never to be done again."
When reporters suggested that the manager didn't sound wild about the idea, he answered "I'm wild. I'm not wild." He then made what seemed to be jungle sound effects.
Valentine openly expressed his disgust with the atmosphere in his clubhouse this week in relating an incident earlier in the season when he joked, "nice inning, kid," with rookie Will Middlebrooks after the third baseman made a pair of errors.
"Somebody overheard it and decided that it was a very dreadful thing for a manager to say to a young player, and decided to repeat it a few times, this dreadful thing," Valentine told reporters. "Was I bothered? No, it was expected. Some guys don't get it. It was also ridiculous for someone to repeat it I think and that was the point I was trying to make."
Reports surfaced in June that the lack of communication between Bobby V and his coaching staff was contributing to a "toxic" situation in the Red Sox clubhouse. By the All Star break, news reports detailed the resentments simmering just under the surface between Valentine and his coaching staff.
So it seemed rather pointed when Valentine took a shot at pitching coach Bob McClure prior to the opening game of the series with the Twins, referring to McClure taking a "two week vacation." In fact, McClure was away from the team for three weeks this summer, dealing with a medical emergency involving his infant son.
"I'm sorry, not vacation, his two weeks away from the team," Valentine corrected himself, having made the implication clear, and very public.
The 2012 Red Sox season has been a hot mess, and Valentine has not helped. In fact, from out here where fans like me sit, he seems to be pouring gas on the fire. If he wants out as bad as he seems to, perhaps it is time to make his wishes come true.
It's not like things could get worse.
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Rick Blaine, an award-winning broadcaster and columnist, is a lifelong Red Sox fan. Follow him on Twitter @RickBlaineCT.
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