Your baseball team may not spend as much money as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox do. But take comfort: turns out no amount of cash can prevent the dysfunction that these teams are seeing.
If all the coverage and chatter surrounding the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry over the past decade has you rooting against both teams, these are glorious days. On July 18, the Yankees were 57-34 and up 10 and 1/2 games on the Tampa Bay Rays and Sox in the American League East, and 10 ahead of the Baltimore Orioles. Yankees fans could book their playoff tickets.
The Yankees are 20-25 since then. New York has just a one-game cushion on the Orioles in the AL East. In the tight Wild Card race, Oakland, Tampa, Detroit, and the Los Angeles Angels are all within striking distance. Those playoff tickets could really go to waste.
But compared to what’s unfolding up in Boston, Yankee fans are living the dream. Boston’s season has been disastrous. The players never responded to the bombast of new manager Bobby Valentine, a guy whom new Boston general manager Ben Cherington didn’t wanted to hire in the first place. Injuries made things worse: Boston, which started the season with a $173.2 million payroll, third in the majors behind the Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies — who also stink — is 63-75. The Red Sox have lost 8 of their last 10 games and are set for their worst season in many years.
In July, the players asked ownership for a meeting to air their grievances, causing a firestorm when the meeting was reported in August. At the end of the month, the team started over: Boston traded first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford, pitcher Josh Beckett and infielder Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a blockbuster of a salary dump, which is resulting in $264 million in relief.
Then just this week, Valentine threatened to punch a guy in the mouth on the radio. Glenn Ordway, a sports radio host on WEEI in Boston, asked Valentine, who was calling in from Seattle, if Valentine had “checked out” as Boston Red Sox manager. Valentine replied:
What an embarrassing thing to say. If I were there right now, I’d punch you right in the mouth. Ha, ha. How’s that sound? Is that like I checked out? What an embarrassing thing.
Unhinged Bobby V wasn’t finished. Valentine was asked about reportedly showing up late to a game in Oakland last week.
I shouldn’t have to explain that. That pisses me off. Whoever wrote that knew what happened. They knew that my son was coming to see me for the first time in this lousy season and that I got to see him on the road, and that his flight was late, and that I was waiting at the airport in San Francisco for his flight to come in, and that came in, I sent the lineup in and reported to my coaches that I was going to be a little late. For someone to say that I was late is an absolute disgrace to their integrity if they have any … I wasn’t late. When you call in and say that you’re delayed in traffic coming from the San Francisco Airport to the stupid Oakland Coliseum and that there’s a traffic jam, then you’re not late, no.
That’s right. Valentine admitted this season was “lousy.” And he said that the Oakland Coliseum is “stupid.” The Coliseum, which consists of steel, concrete, and other materials, could not be reached for a response.
Valentine said he arrived for the game at 4:00 p.m., hardly late for a 7:15 start, and noted that highly respected Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon also regularly arrived at the ballpark around 4:00. Maddon had a little fun with Valentine’s comments. “I’m very flattered by the whole thing,” he told reporters. “I think it’s very amusing, that’s all. Seriously, that’s all. I’m amused by the moment, and it’s flattering someone would include me in that conversation.” On Wednesday afternoon, Maddon also tweeted:
Apologies to the writers for being late to today’s pregame session. My pedicure appointment ran a little late.
Later in the interview, Valentine admitted that this season has brought “misery” upon him. Listening to the exchange, you could not help but feel some sympathy for Valentine. He seemed genuinely hurt that people would question his decision to pick up his son, and made a strong case as to why that criticism was wrongheaded. But at the same time, he was rambling, and his state of mind seemed muddled. And threatening to punch someone was not professional.
In Boston, today will be just another day in which no one is talking about the team’s success on the field. Now, Valentine’s bizarre interview is the news. This soap opera will probably get Valentine fired at the end of the year, if not sooner. And after listening to that radio interview, both sides will likely be better off for it.