Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Don't Be Mad At Bobby Valentine

All this afternoon and evening, I listened to the waves of disgruntled Yankee fans who ripped Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, for the negative comments he made about Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter today. From Facebook to Twitter, to ESPN Radio, to The Mike Francesa Show, throngs of fanatics let it be known just how ridiculous and stupid it was for Valentine to make his comments, especially in regard to The Captain. In Yankeeland, any negative talk of Jeter is considered sacrilege.

If you were hiding under a rock today and haven't yet had a chance to read up on Valentines curious comments, here's the jist of what you missed:

AP Photo/Eric Risberg
On Jeter's famous "Flip Play:"

"I think [Jeter] was out of position and the ball gets [Giambi] out if [Jeter] doesn't touch it, personally.

"That was amazing that [Jeter] was there. I bet it's more amazing that he said he practiced it. I don't believe it.''

On Jason Varitek's "scuffle" with A-Rod in 2004:

Via 5boroughsports.com
"He was a man's man, he was a big hitter when needed, he was the leader of the pitching staff. … He was able to beat up Alex, all that stuff. He was exactly what he was supposed to be.''

So, Valentine turned what would have been an uneventful Tuesday, into a news-worthy day for both baseball journalists and bloggers, like myself. When I first read his comments online, I thought to myself that the inevitable reaction from Yankee fans would be more than what I would need to fill up an entire blog post. I could have filled this page with quotes from numerous worshippers of all things Yankees, but I decided to take a different approach. I decided to plead with the Yankee faithful to not be mad at Valentine, but to instead, be thankful.

Why would I ever ask this? I know it's a little crazy for me to expect that Yankee fans could ever not relish in the opportunity to bash any member of the Red Sox, let alone its manager. It's a simple reflex reaction that we've had programmed in us since we became Yankee fans and learned of this historic rivalry. It fuels us; helps ignite that feeling of superiority that we all agree belongs on our side, as the championship ratio between our boys and theirs isn't even close.

And because Valentine had the absolute audacity to dismiss Jeter's "Flip Play" as a "bad" play, and not recognize The Captain for his obvious genius in that moment, would justify any fanatics reason to let off a few chosen words for the Red Sox new manager.

Yet, I find myself still asking you all to forgive Valentine, and recognize his comments for what they really were: a way to rejuvenate the rivalry that would have taken a back seat to the fodder that had become Red Sox Nation.

Boston had become nothing more than a joke this past winter. After being touted the team to beat in the AL East before the 2011 season even began, the Red Sox would see themselves not even making it into the playoffs. Terry Francona was fired as manager after failing to get his team, with all its talents, back to World Series play, and amidst accusations of having lost control of his club. Then there was Jon Lester's  disclosure of drinking beer and eating fried chicken during games, which had become Boston's biggest storyline during the offseason. And, former GM Theo Epstein, who did a great job of building a championship team for Beantown, decided to escape the mutiny, and take his talents to Chicago.

While we may love to see the Red Sox weak and vulnerable; their fans embarrassed and ashamed, what good would it do us as devout Yankee fans to pounce on an unworthy opponent? The rivalry between our ball clubs has always been at it's very best when both teams were at full strength. Boston is coming into 2012 with a questionable pitching staff; a lineup that could see Carl Crawford have another down year offensively, as he continues to rehab from wrist surgery; the question of who will co-chair David Ortiz' role as leader, now that Varitek has announced his retirement and now that a "beer ban" has been enforced.

The Yankees on the other hand look like a strong contender to recapture the AL East, and possibly, another championship. The acquisitions of Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda have arguably made the Yankees rotation the best in the East, with pitchers like CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes coming into Spring Training camp in the best shape of their careers. Same for Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher, who dropped the weight and built muscle in hopes of having a better season offensively. While there is still the question of A-Rod's health, his recognition of what he needs to do to remain healthy, combined with getting help from orthokine treatment for his left knee and right shoulder, could prove him more dangerous than he's been in a while.

The Yankees are obviously the "better looking" club heading into the season, and Valentine knows it. I mean, again, beside the talk of beer, what else did anyone care about with Boston this winter? Valentine is smart enough to know that so much of what goes into the Boston mystique, has so much to do with this rivalry. He had to find a way to make that the focal point, as it's been more true than not that the Yankees are Boston's main focus. So why not heat things up again with a few sarcastic quotes that were sure to get the response it got today? And why not redirect Boston's "problems" from all the attention it's been getting, and start a war of words that could translate into historic matches during the season?

And another thing fanatics, keep in mind that Valentine has no love lost for the Yankees. While the Mets were certainly a far better team under his guard than they are now, they were always the underdogs in New York. Kinda like the Giants and the Jets. Valentine's clubs could never outshine what had become the greatest Yankee dynasty in decades. When the two teams met in the World Series in 2000, it would have been the one way, the only way, for Valentine to make the world believe that he managed the better club. Didn't happen, and now Valentine has what is probably his last opportunity to get revenge. Mincing the Jeter play is a great way to start.

So I say to you all, let this go. Valentine is doing what he has to do, and we could be the beneficiaries of some fantastic games against Boston as a result. All we have to hope for, is that the Yankees respond by doing what they do best: winning.

(Quotes courtesy of USA Today)

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper


  1. When I first started to read this one, I was getting ready to rebutt but as I went along, it really does make perfect sense. Great blog! Long live our beloved Yankees and may the whoop those Red Sox this year!


  2. Glad you liked it Beth! Valentine is doing his best Rex Ryan impression: talking loud and carrying a short stick!