The Red Sox lost a frustrating game yesterday, highlighted by a questionable strike zone, a mid-conversion Daniel Bard looking great but clearly tiring, and the manager crossing swords with the team's two most beloved players. So today the Herald leads not with a game report, but a rush to be the first paper in town to declare that Bobby Valentine is losing the clubhouse.
There's nothing new here. Sandwiched between inflammatory lede and kicker, and under a curiously underselling headline, is a rehash of the Valentine-Youkilis-Pedroia loveless triangle, with lots of ominous nods toward all-out locker room insubordination that may or may not take place at some unspecified future date. (The writer is John Tomase, who earned the undying enmity of Boston fans by reporting, erroneously and on the verge of the first Patriots-Giants Super Bowl, that a tape of Spygate existed. Neither he nor Valentine will instinctually receive the benefit of the readers' collective doubt.)
This is a test. This is the Herald giving Valentine a prod, seeing if they can rouse him into further lunacy. The controversy's embers are already dying, but here's one last jab with the poker to see if Valentine can't be sparked into a full-fledged conflagration. When the Red Sox signed Valentine, no one was happier than the Boston media. Here was a guy who would be not only great for quotes, but could always be counted on to create a story when the slog of the baseball season becomes interminable. He's been a roaring success. The Red Sox have played 10 games, and already a newspaper can credibly cry mutiny. Bobby V is a godsend for newsholes.
Valentine's a lightning rod, but one that's not totally grounded. He's a high-risk, high-reward guy who's either the perfect man for the job, or the worst man for the job, with no in-between. Skippering a successful Northeastern team, his antics make him a cult hero and take the spotlight off of his players. In a volatile atmosphere like Boston, with its colorful roster and vulturous reporters, he could be an owner's dream—as long as the Red Sox win. But if they don't win, every little thing becomes magnified, every little headache becomes a migraine, and Valentine's habit of speaking his mind turns the front office into a crisis management center.
It's been 10 games. We don't know which Red Sox team we have, nor if the 2012 Bobby V is the lovable one or the incendiary one. But there's no need to try and hurry things along. If he's going to melt down, he's going to do it with or without the help of an eager press corps. Let it happen in its own time; it will happen. It always happens.
Negative response to manager in clubhouse [Boston Herald]