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Dan Shaughnessy

Valentine is the right Sox fit

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By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / November 22, 2011

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He is married to the daughter of Ralph Branca, who threw the gopher ball to Bobby Thomson at the Polo Grounds in 1951. His first roommate in professional baseball was Bill Buckner, when the two were drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1968. He managed the Texas Rangers, who were once managed by Ted Williams. He also managed the New York Mets, who inflicted immeasurable pain to our region in 1986.

Is there any doubt that Bobby Valentine is destined to be the next manager of the Boston Red Sox?

No. There can be no doubt. This is a man directly connected to the two most infamous moments in baseball’s 20th century. And that is only one of the reasons that he is the perfect fit to be the 45th manager in the storied history of the Boston Red Sox.

The Sox trotted out Bobby V at 5:30 yesterday afternoon for one of those goofy media auditions (be mindful that it infuriates the Patriots when the Sox grab attention on any NFL game day). Following in the footsteps of the immortal Pete Mackanin, Dale Sveum, Sandy Alomar Jr., Torey Lovullo, and Gene Lamont, Valentine met with the once-carnivorous Boston press corps after spending the day answering questions for the deep thinkers in the Sox baseball operations department.

It appears that Bobby V passed the audition with baseball ops. He certainly pleased the media. The only question that remains is . . . How did Valentine do with the soccer-lovin’, NASCAR-obsessed, sports-radio-listenin’, low-talkin’, absentee owner of the Red Sox? Hope Bobby V didn’t go all Sveum and spit tobacco juice into a Styrofoam cup during lunch.

Valentine has to get the job. There’s still a possibility the Sox could trade for John Farrell. Lamont is coming to town today for a second interview, and Lovullo is technically still in the mix. Sox general manager Ben Cherington has backed off his Thanksgiving deadline and it’s likely the Sox will name their new manager early next week, comfortably in advance of the annual baseball meetings.

But it’s got to be Valentine. Like Larry Lucchino, Bobby V knows he is the smartest guy in the room. He has managed more than 2,000 big league games, taken a team to the World Series, and been named manager of the year. He was an absolute god when he managed in Japan (think of Jerry Lewis in France), but he opted to leave the perfect, safe gig overseas so that he would have one more chance at the big leagues. This is that chance.

Valentine desperately wants this job. If we can quote Don Henley we can say that Bobby V would walk on his lips through busted glass to get to the corner office at Fenway Park.

Here’s Valentine’s answer when he was asked why he would want to manage the Red Sox: “Well other than they have one of the best teams in baseball, one of the best organizations in baseball, one of the greatest venues in baseball, with a great winning tradition over the last 10 years, there’s really no reason that I want to be here.’’

He will be 62 next season. He was raised and still lives in Stamford, Conn., where he was an athletic legend, great at baseball and football. He was supposed to replace O.J. Simpson in the backfield at Southern Cal, but he opted for baseball. Valentine’s fast track to major league stardom was derailed when his leg exploded while playing for the Angels in 1973.

He sees everything that happens on a baseball field. He did a spectacular job turning the Rangers around in 1985 and took an underwhelming Mets team to the World Series in 2000. He believes in the Warren Zevon theme of “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.’’

New York City folks who endured the tragedy of the fallen towers in 2001 will tell you that Bobby Valentine was the real deal when it came to caring for victims after the attacks. For once in his life, he was all action, little talk. Not bad for a guy who’s often been portrayed as a fraud and a poser.

Bobby V got off a couple of whoppers yesterday. He claimed not to remember much about his experience managing the ’02 Mets. This would be like Terry Francona, circa 2020, saying he can’t quite remember his last year managing the Red Sox. The ’02 Mets made the 2011 Red Sox look like the noble gang from “Remember the Titans.’’

Stop the search. Bobby Valentine is the guy. Enough with the charade. Enough with the soft parade of Mackanins, Sveums, and Alomars. Cherington needs to pass Go, collect $200, and name Bobby Valentine manager of the 2012 Red Sox.

He’s smart and qualified. He is destiny’s child in Boston baseball’s nuclear winter of 2011-12.

Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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