"Not much I would have done differently this year. I think I would have kept the beer in the clubhouse, I could have used it after a few of these games this year." - Bobby Valentine
Our long national nightmare is over, and we're not talking about the lockout of the regular NFL referees.
Bobby Valentine (fingers crossed) has managed his last game at Fenway Park - as least as skipper of the Red Sox. When it comes to skippers, Valentine ranks right up there with Captain Edward John Smith of the Titanic, Captain Queeg of the U.S.S. Caine and Cap'n Crunch of "Oops, All Berries" fame. He has nothing on Alan Hale (Jr.), or Gilligan for that matter.
Valentine's hiring was the biggest single move to trigger the disastrous season that came to a merciful home conclusion Wednesday night. There's still another wasted week left in this wasted season. After watching the Red Sox this season, we all need to get wasted. Is Bill Lee stlll around town?
The fanfare of Fenway 100 ended with another subdued crowd watching a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Red Sox spent 2012 honoring the first 100 years of Fenway Park, the All-Fenway Team, the 2004 World Series champions and dishonored their fans with their worst home record (34-47) since 1965. That was the year of my birth, so I can safely say I waited my whole life for the Red Sox to be this bad, at least within the unfriendly confines of Fenway Park. Honestly, I can't remember much about the 1965 Red Sox. My focus was elsewhere back then. I'm sure somewhere deep in my subconscious there's the voice of my father cursing in both Greek and English about another loss. Dave Morehead threw a no-hitter at Fenway Park on Sept. 16 that season in front of 2,370 fans, a certain sellout under today's standards. Morehead finished with 18 losses. I'd like to forget all about the 2012 Red Sox, who will finish with at least 87 losses. By the way, did troughs, pole-seats and right-field sections facing the bullpen make the All-Fenway Amenities List?
This year was very entertaining, for all the wrong reasons. Fenway 100 ended up being Fenway .456. Like they've done so many times before, the Red Sox began this season at home with high hopes and vow to forget last year. Valentine was sold time and time again - by State Run Media and the Politburo - as the perfect manager for this imperfect team.
"My Father's Red Sox" returned with a vengeance after their renaissance last September. And Valentine was there to lead them head-first into last place. On the competence scale, Valentine was Eddie Kasko, Don Zimmer, Grady Little, Joe Kerrigan and Jimy Williams, all rolled into one. He manages to maintain the conceit of Don Cherry and ego of Bill Belichick without the street cred, record or championships to back it up.
100 years of Fenway. 100,000 nightmares. Valentine led without focus until the end, as his Red Sox lost nine of their last 11 games at Fenway. There was Josh Beckett's 'back-fat" spasm against Detroit and that wonderful night in May against the Indians. The Red Sox were 0-7 in extra-inning games at Fenway this season, low-lighted by a 17-inning loss to the Orioles on May 6 as Chris Davis became the first player since Fred Flintstone in the Bedrock Softball League to go 0-for-8 in a game and get the win in relief. The Red Sox blew a 9-0 lead to the Yankees at home in April and got swept by the Blue Jays in July - closing that weekend out with Jon Lester's epic 11-run, four-tater, four-plus innings outing on July 22 that competitively ended the season. Plenty of fools were still chasing the fools' gold of the "second wild card" until the reality of 9-20 August set in. The Dunkin' Dugout became a bomb shelter.
Tear-jerkers all. "Misty water-colored memories of the way we were."
With the smoldering wreckage of Fenway 100 behind us and the sellout streak in tact, Ben Cherington is/will be/should be free to pick his own manager this time. There were at least 100 reasons why Valentine should not have been hired in the first place. But there's only reason why he should not come back - he has failed miserably with this chance and has done nothing to justify another year, even if the team is contractually obligated to pay him for it.
Looking ahead, there are many candidates who are equally as capable as Valentine who could fill his shoes - including you, me, the guy selling beer in Section 26 and Wally.
No offense to any of us, but Cherington must do better.
It should not be much of a challenge.
Don't forget to join us Oct. 7 at 4 p.m. for our in-game Patriots-Broncos fan chat. (We'll be away on Sunday working at Foot Locker with the former replacement refs.) As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.
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