Ten hours after John Farrell was officially introduced as the 46th manager of the Red Sox (as a few people pointed out Tuesday, that’s two more than have held office in the White House), the Millard Fillmore of Boston managers hit the airwaves on the NBC Sports Network in a taped interview in which he threw David Ortiz, local media, and even his own enigmatic personality under the Greyhound.
If anything, the day provided a parallel of hope and a reminder of just how utterly lost the franchise was one year ago.
In Farrell, the Red Sox now have the guy they always had hoped would one day take the clubhouse reins from Terry Francona. By most accounts, Day 1 was a refreshing beacon of optimism, as fans and media came away from Farrell’s press conference impressed with the man’s demeanor, intelligent answers, and immediate knowledge and plans for certain avenues for this club moving forward. In all, it was the complete opposite of the Benny Hill showcase we were treated to last December.
Bobby Valentine is officially in the past, and yet the worst Red Sox manager of our generation continues to be a lightning rod, a topic of discussion that we salivate to go away, but not without any semblance of natural rubber necking when the man opens his mouth. It’s like that scene in Billy Madison. When Bobby V gives answers, everybody in the room is now dumber for having listened to it.
Even with the massage that Bob Costas gave him on set, Valentine managed to further embarrass himself, not to mention the Red Sox management team that initially thought his presence would be a good idea. Costas called Valentine’s comment about Kevin Youkilis not being emotionally or physically attached to the game, “benign.” He assured Valentine that his “Nice inning, Will” remark after Will Middlebrooks committed two errors in an inning was something that would never grab headlines in the days of old school managers, a seeming hint that the Boston players, media, and fans are all over-reactionary. Maybe there’s a hint of truth there, but then again, the Middlebrooks incident never happened.
Valentine said so last night. He also said it happened this summer.
Clearly, he’s either lying or is simply delusional, which I guess is a proper diagnosis for a man who believes he’s to credit for Fresh City being in business. No matter. Costas further excused his disastrous tenure here by listing the litany of injuries the team endured, yet never asked him if he understood yet that Twins pitcher Liam Hendricks throws with his right hand or if he understood why batting Scott Podsednik third in the lineup was a sign of his legendary incompetence.
But no, it wasn’t that sort of foolishness that sank the 2012 Red Sox. It was The Trade. And when the Sox sent Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto to Los Angeles, David Ortiz quit on the club. Bobby V said so.
“David Ortiz came back after spending about six weeks on the disabled list and we thought it was only going to be a week. He got two hits the first two times up, drove in a couple runs; we were off to the races. Then he realized that this trade meant that we’re not going to run this race and we’re not even going to finish the race properly and he decided not to play anymore. I think at that time it was all downhill from there.”
Wrong. It was all downhill from here.
Whether or not Farrell can learn from his two years managing in Toronto and combine that with his familiarity with an underachieving Red Sox pitching staff to resurrect this franchise is a narrative yet to be written. But he’s not Bobby Valentine. Hall-e-lu-jah.
Not that Farrell doesn’t come with his own set of controversies. Folks in Toronto are livid over the way the managerial situation was handled, especially after Farrell admitted Tuesday that he had expressed a desire for the Boston job a year ago. Now, the Blue Jays are forced to perform their own search for a manager, and there’s little doubt Boston phantom candidates Brad Ausmus and Demarlo Hale should get looks.
We know one phone that definitely won’t be ringing.