What started as a dream scenario soon became a long-running nightmare for Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.
As the bad news, ongoing losses, crushing injuries, and ill-timed clubhouse brushfires flared up, Valentine slowly but surely became beaten down himself as the season of woe wore on.
With his disastrous first season at the helm at Fenway finally over, we take a look back to a time when Bobby V was on top of the world, looking forward the challenge of managing in Boston, long before he was staring down the barrel of a last place finish in the American League East.
Dec. 1, 2011: Valentine thought he was going to manage a team of highly-talented world beaters. The following came from his introductory press conference.
“This day is a special day. It’s more than a special day. It’s the beginning of a life that I think is going to extend beyond anything I ever thought of doing. The talent level, and the players that we have, and this organization, is a gift to anyone. I’m the receiver of that gift. Without any further ado, I think we’re going to do this man, and I really, I really and truly enjoy this opportunity.’’
“I can tell you that I’m looking forward to working with this group and establishing a culture of excellence.’’
“I am not the genius that I’ve heard people refer to me as. I am not the polarizing guys that people refer to me as. I’m not the monster that breathes fire that some people have referred to me as. I’m a guy. I’m a regular human being with regular feelings and regular attributes that make me what I am. I think some of them, as I’ve been told by people who know me, are OK. I don’t know if I’m polarizing or any of those other things. It’s just what I am.’’
Dec. 7, 2011: Valentine was a popular figure at baseball’s winter meetings, and was a quote machine for eager reporters.
“I hate the Yankees. I don’t want to waste this valuable time talking about the Yankees. This is too valuable, it really is. I told [Yankees manager] Joe Girardi I used to love them and now I hate them.’’
“I feel like in the last two weeks my life has been in such a whirlwind, a wonderful pace that I count my blessing. I’m saying, ‘I can’t believe I just did that.’ It’s been really neat … It has been great. People have been incredibly nice.’’
“[Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry] looked over at me, and he said, ‘Bobby, the only bit of advice I’m going to give you is make sure your coaches speak your language.’ And I think, again, everybody who was just being interviewed in that interview room, all those managers understand that their staff has got to be able to say your message in stereo, that they have to be part of your baseball world.’’
Dec. 22, 2011: Valentine quickly immersed himself into Boston, and paid a visit to the West End House Boys and Girls Club in Allston.
“I’m sure Ben [Cherington] is going to put together the right group. I’ve been very impressed with everything we’ve done so far.’’
Dec. 23, 2011: Valentine commented on the hiring of pitching coach Bob McClure, who was fired in August amid reports he and Valentine did not work well together.
“I need someone who could communicate up and down, communicate with me what the needs of the pitchers were and able to communicate with the pitchers what their daily needs might be. I was looking for someone who had experience obviously at the major league level but also someone who understood both starting and relieving as a pitcher.’’