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Sunday 17th Dec 2017

One of my leisurely summer reads has been David Halberstam's "October 1964," a book that chronicles the collapse of the mighty New York Yankees dynasty that dominated the baseball universe from the late 40's to the early 60's.

1964 was the Bronx Bombers last hurrah for a number of years and Halberstam sets the table of the book by discussing the Yankee managers--in fact baseball managers and owners--for in 1964 the team was just a couple of years removed from Casey Stengal.

One of the reasons I enjoyed the author's analysis regarding the front office and the guys at the helm was that I always wondered why it seemed the same old recycled guys kept popping up managing one team, then another, and then another with very little in the way of ultimate success.

Mind you I turned 12 after the 1964 Series, but even then I was aware that the likes of Alvin Dark and Birdie Tibbets and Johnny Keane and Leo Durocher had all had multiple gigs managing at the big league level. Plus, I knew there were a lot more guys like them, and though it was that some of these gentlemen did not have their success, it still seemed strange to me that rarely was a new face introduced into what seemed like a secret club.

Well, times and players and salaries and mores have indeed changed since 1964--and Halberstam again sets the tone for this noting salaries and attitudes were changing, making it tough for a player from the 30's to relate to a player of the 60's--and there has been much better movement in baseball managers. And, I think that is for the better.

So, though I sort of understood the canning of Terry Francona at the end of last season, I was pretty much flabbergasted by the team's signing of Bobby Valentine to the managing slot. 


First, I guess it is true that the team ran amok in 2011; however, it was Francona who guided the Sox to not one, but two titles, putting the Curse of the Bambino firmly in the franchise's collective rear view mirror.

Second, I cannot believe that Theo Epstein--newly departed for Chicago--would have made the move. Oh, he may well have cut ties with Francona, but no way he would have hired the volatile Valentine.

But, even more to the--and Halberstam's point--Valentine has not been a very good major league manager, with a career won/loss of 1176-1138 (.508) with just one pennant to his name with the Mets in 2000, over 16 years.

Further, he is much like Halberstam's assessment of the likes of Eddie Stankey and Solly Hemus of the 60's: solid enough players of the 40's who thought the way to motivate a team was to be adversarial and a disciplinarian. And, well, with today's players and salaries and system, that just does not work.

That does not mean a manager cannot be firm, for that is appropriate and necessary no matter what the discipline, for employees always need to know who is in charge, plain and simple.

And, it is not like this year's underachieving Sox are all on Valentine's shoulders, for certainly injuries to Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury among others certainly contributed to the bad year. But, back to management in general, the terrible trade for Andrew Bailey did not help either.

Still, just Valentine's handling of Kevin Youkilis says it all to me, for Youk had trouble producing for Valentine (.233-4-14 and a .315 OBP over 146 at-bats) and while his average is not what we are used to with Chicago, the numbers are way better at .246-11-34 over 171 at-bats with a .368 OBP. Oh yeah, an .835 OPS for the Pale Hose as opposed to the .692 for Boston suggesting Youk still had something in his stick that Valentine could not reach.

And, that is the manager's job, to bring out the best of his or her empolyees no matter the environ.

Well, Bobby does not do that, and were he successful more often than not it could be excused.

But he is not. Rather, he is an opinionated loud mouth much better suited to make stupid comments from the press box second guessing managers who actually know what they are doing.




0 #13 Christopher Kreush 2012-08-26 23:07
Personally, I liked the Bosox signing of Valentine ;-)
0 #12 Lawr Michaels 2012-08-26 13:35
i hear what you are saying kid. but, lasorda makes the perfect example (and he studied under smokey alston, the greatest manager of my childhood).

but, tommy was a good manager, but obviously an awful GM. similarly, valentine might be a good scout or whatever, but he is an awful manager.

reminds me of the IT world, where you can have a primo coder or developer. and, then they promote those folks to be a supervisor and often that is a terrible move as they have no people skills.

and, continuing to hire bobby as a manager with his track record is repeating the mistake, and that is stupid, you know? (not to mention bobby seems to refuse to learn from his mistakes).

i see the bosox now floundering for a decade thanks to this crazy debaucle that will forever be linked to the best they tried to do was james bloody loney, though?
0 #11 John Verdello 2012-08-25 22:36
He studied under a master, Lawr. Lasorda may have given all the "wrong" public impressions ...but again ...no fool and definitely not stupid. Like Davey knew what he was getting into after the Riggleman situation, I don't think any of this happened by accident on Bobby's part.
0 #10 Lawr Michaels 2012-08-25 22:19
i dunno kid. there is a difference between being intelligent and being well educated, for example. ie, todd akin may be well educated, but that does not stop him from being stupid, you know?
0 #9 Michael July 2012-08-25 22:18
I didn't understand the Bobby V hire in the first place. I don't think he's a good fit for any clubhouse. He'll ultimately be the fall guy and head back to ESPN.
0 #8 Todd Zola 2012-08-25 21:48
I gotta run so I can't embellish, I may blog on this but amid all the turmoil, all the crap, the team is 3rd in the Majors in runs scored. Beckett and Lester are a combined 13-23. Flip that and the focus is on the weak bullpen (even though there was a stretch they were actually very, very good).

I didn't like the Bobby V hiring, but only because I did not see him as the short term fix nor the long term solution.

Sorry, gotta run....
0 #7 John Verdello 2012-08-25 19:41
Oh, believe me ...we lived with the mustache disguise and all of his machinations in NY ... he may be arrogant, calculating and a putz ...but he ain't stupid. He knew what he was getting into ...and the people who hired him knew exactly what they were putting him into.
0 #6 Lawr Michaels 2012-08-25 18:25
well, i have to admit the manager likely modifies the "problems" of the front office, so in that sense i agree with all of you.

and, maybe in hindsight some of theo's machinations seem funky. but, at the time they did not, and well, i can forgive lackey imploding. at least the pitcher was 30 and had no history of breakdown when signed.

but, my point is based upon bobby's suspicious history of success as a manager, why the hell bobby v would be the guy to rebuild. seriously.

btw, i am up in the mountains, and i wrote the bulk of this piece on weds, the day before agone went on waivers (we had a dinner date last night so i wanted to get it handled knowing friday would be a longer night, so the bigger stupid house cleaning trade was neither on my radar when i drafted.

funny, though, huh?

as for valentine, my grandmother--who lived to be 96--always said "there is no shame in being ignorant, only in remaining so."

dear abby said the difference was the first time you get a ticket driving 50 in a 35 mile zone when you did not see the sign you are ignorant.

after the second ticket you are stupid.

the red sox are stupid...so is bobby.
0 #5 Michael July 2012-08-25 16:36
And as Sox management blows up the team how do you think Red Sox Nation and the East Coast media will respond? Initially they may sing praises but it's all about wins and what have you done lately for me. I suspect if the wins don't come this will get ugly for Sox management. They won't wait as long as Royal's fans to show their distaste for Glass.
0 #4 John Verdello 2012-08-25 13:55
You're right about what the manager's job is supposed to be, Lawr - but sometimes there are other agendas to be served.

Wonder how happy Pedroia is now?

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