Oct 1, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine (25) reacts to a video review during the second inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

With the AL East Title on the line...Bobby Valentine Just Sat There...and slept

With the AL East title on the line and his worst pitcher obviously losing it, Bobby Valentine just sat there, nailed to the bench by an anger that roils in a seething sea of fury, just below the calm surface of hopelessness.

With two Yankees on base and their power hitting outfielder coming to the plate, heads turned toward the manager, expecting him to rise and bring in a new pitcher; one of the 18 available, all with better stats than the crapped out Dice K.

But Bobby Valentine just sat there.

The home plate umpire took a quick look in Valentine’s direction, anticipating a pitching change.

But Bobby Valentine just sat there.

The man, who could not sit down at spring training, could not stand up.

The man, who could not shut up, was suddenly made mute.

The Orioles had played 161 games to have a chance at the AL East title; they were entitled to Valentine’s best effort on this final day of the season.

But Bobby Valentine just sat there.

A veteran manager, once recognized as one of the best minds in the game of baseball, who led the Rangers and the Mets for 15 years and had leaped off the bench to make timely pitching changes in 2,189 games, just sat there.

Ralph Branca, Bobby’s father-in-law, will always be remembered, not for his pitching talent, but for one pitch he threw to Bobby Thompson in 1951.  When the call came to the bullpen, Branca got up  and had to give it his best shot– he could not just sit there.

Maybe even Daisuke Matsuzaka, in the last game of his 50W-36L career; now a tragic figure, cornered on the round mound in the middle of legendary Yankee Stadium, completely spent and empty; yes, maybe even Dice K took a peek to see if Valentine might mercifully cut the tethers that pierced his chest and end this excruciating ritual, performed in the monstrous maelstrom of a maniacal mob.

But Bobby Valentine just sat there.

Valentine knew that Matsuzaka had allowed at least four earned runs in each of his last four starts; was 1-6 with a 7.68 ERA in 10 starts, and that opponents got a hit off him 29.5% of the time.  He knew that he could bring in any one of eighteen other pitchers, but Valentine just sat there.

His fantasy of returning in triumph to the Majors, after 12 years in exile in Japan, had turned into a King Hell nightmare, where “everything was black and white, and it smelled like gasoline.”*   It was that classic nightmare that we all have, where we can never quite get anything right.

Last night, in the 2nd inning, the Bobby Valentine who managed from 1985-2002 in the Majors would have jumped off the bench, pointed to the umpire, and raised his left hand toward the bullpen and taken his failing pitcher out, but, after a dozen years away, this season’s Bobby Valentine had become Rip Van Winkle, awakening in a new era of baseball; Bobby Valentine had become a pathetic anachronism.

With the AL East pennant up for grabs, Bobby Valentine’s petulant rage overcame his professional responsibility to the game of baseball and kept him nailed to the bench.

With a chance to simply yank his starter in time–as had done hundreds of times before– to avoid giving up two home runs and the game and meekly surrendering  the AL title to the Yankees, this furtively furious, self-absorbed Rip Van Winkle, put his hands in the pockets of his Red Sox jacket and went back to sleep.


*John Prine, “I had a dream last night.”








Tags: AL East Division Title AL East Title Bobby Valentine Orioles

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