Larry Lucchino’s Favorite Valentine


In the past, I have  written posts criticizing  the Red Sox big dogs (those who must be obeyed)  seeming inability to make decisions. Since Bobby Valentine has been named as manager, some of my colleagues here have indicated Valentine’s choice, while questionable, was least a decision made. Martha Stewart would have said this is a good thing.

There were excellent posts by Rick Meegan in The Hammer is about to come down on Josh Beckett  and Derek Stylalo’s An Early Red Sox Christmas List, which touched on the fact that, finally, a decision was made about the manager’s job and whether you agreed on the decision or not, at least we had a manager. Mr. Meegan’s post rightfully dealt with Valentine’s approach as a disciplinarian, equating him with a hammer.

Valentine’s stentorian rants are well documented, some even legendary, but let’s be honest here. He is not the hammer. That title is owned by Larry Lucchino, our beloved CEO. Those vetting candidates for the position, I think, acutallybelieived they were in the process of selecting a manager. Flash-that decision was made, in my humble opinion, before Terry Francona left the parking lot, back in September. Examine the facts. Who was missing from the original list of candidates, Bobby Valentine. His name was bandied about  by the press, but his name comes up every time a manager’s vacancy opened up, but he was not in the original  short list. He was never on the short list. John Dennis of Dennis and Callahan pointed that out when he pointed out that Valentine had been absent from consideration until the very end, when Lucchino produced Valentine as a candidate. To my knowledge, Valentine never even applied for the job. Until Lucchino’s write in candidate appeared, Eugene Lamont appeared to be the lead dog.

So here we are, almost two months after the vacancy opened and we have two candidates. In one corner we have Eugene Lamont, a well qualified person, manager of the year twice, well traveled and well liked was the choice of Ben Cherington, the newly minted General Manager. Don’t let the new title put you off. He has been with the organization  since 1999, was acting GM on two occasions, worked with Theo Epstein throughout Theo’s tenure and when Theo’s position opened, choosing Cherington as the replacement was a slam dunk. In the other corner we have Bobby Valentine, some time excellent manager, consistsently irascible, lover of the public eye, public humiliation expert, and long time friend of Larry Lucchino. Valentine was well received in Japan, the place that invented the Banzai charge, so his style fit well there.  He managed there several years. When the Sox were interested in Daisuke Matsuzake, Valentine assisted Lucchino in removing the mystery of Japanese negotiations. He was in Japan when he got the message he was manager.  In short, Bobby and Larry were tight.

Lamont and Valentine, who was finally interviewed for the job, sat poised on the public pedestal for several days, while Cherington and Lucchino bickered over the selection.  Let us remember that now. the Red Sox have been without a manager for critical weeks.  The team,branded as losers, and rightfully so after  it”s historic collapse,  was ignored.  Clubhouse problems that contributed to this collapse were allowed to fester, because  we had no manager to address them.  The team’s Q rating was so low, otherwise qualified managerial candidates shunned the Sox as if they had leprosy.  Succinctly , the once mighty Sox, the team of Boston, had slipped to near anonymity.As an example I understand that now,during the heaviest buying season of the year, Red Sox merchandise has been relegated to the back of the store. That’s bad, real bad.

The power struggle was broken when, I am sure, Lucchino said Valentine was in and that was that. Cherington became two feet shorter as his legs were cut off at the knees-in public for all to see. The internecine squabbling has created other problems that will have to be dealt with, but that is for another time. Let’s put this in perspective. ‘Those who must be obeyed, delayed for 60 days, the most critical decision that had to be made for the good of the team, and that decision had been made back in September, but mere mortals were not privy to that deciion. Precious irretrievable time and effort were trivialized, while Lucchino let the end game play out. It brought back memories of “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald.

So now, Valentine is in charge. It seems he will charge into the fray head long and bring order out of chaos. One of the objections to Valentine being chosen manager was the Red Sox business model. The management uses cutting edge technology with concomitant gray matter to assemble and field winning teams. Valentine is not of this new school. He has said, I am told, that he will mix his current, “once more into the breach” philosophy, with the Red Sox more cerebral methods. That’s like Osama Ben Laden promising to learn the Torah. Not only will it not happen, it is impossible. Let’s put this in real time.  We have a disenhearteded group of overpaid, spoiled, egomaniacal under achievers, whom Valentine is charged to whip into shape with the lash. Some have said that Josh Beckett was one of the ringleaders in Chickengate and that he will be one of Valentine’s first tasks. The world anxiously awaits the sullen Texan to get his comeuppance from this unrepentant disciple of Draco. Becket is 6’5″, 250 lbs at least and has the attitude of a cage fighter; and he cannot be fired.  There will be no sychophancy here. It will be war. To a lesser degree this turbulence will be repeated as Valentine works his way down the troubled roster.

Please do not misunderstand. I didn’t like the move to make Valentine manager, but he may work out. I don’t think so, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt for purposes of argument.  Take a new manager, any new manager. Which scenario do you want that new manager to face. A team immediately after the season’s close so fresh problems can be dealt with expeditiously or let the metastatic malignancy feed on itself for two months and then try to heal the beast.

Anybody would have a tough time with the Red Sox after last season, but to wait two months to turn attention to the immediate problems, assures a much longer rehabilitation, and thanks to Larry “the Hammer “Lucchino and his secret agenda, we now have a manager whose bloom has long since left the rose, charged to save the Titanic with a sand pail and an erector set. To add to the existsing misery, the Hammer has embarrassed and undercut his General Manager. It ain’t gonna be pretty folks. I hope you like hockey.

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Let’s be real honest here