An early Valentine’s Day

 

In the past few months, the headlines for the Red Sox have been notoriously negative. It began with the historic September collapse, which was only the beginning of the dire press. The collapse soon triggered questions of reputation, which the Red Sox were losing as well.

The Boston Globe revealed John Lackey, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett to be beer-drinking buffoons and simultaneously unraveled the character of a beloved team.

Then came the losses: Terry Francona was pushed out, much-loved Jonathan Papelbon signed with the Phillies and general manager Theo Epstein left for Chicago.

It is only now, early into December, that the Red Sox are finally attempting to clean up the mess and achieve some positive press. On Dec. 1, the Red Sox introduced their 45th franchise manager, Bobby Valentine, signing him to a two-year contract. This announcement came 62 days after Terry Francona drove away from Fenway.

Valentine has had a storied history, making his major league debut in 1969 as a player for the LA Dodgers. He saw play in his career with the California Angels, San Diego Padres, New York Mets and the Seattle Mariners.

Valentine’s MLB management began with the Texas Rangers in 1985, and then, in 1996, he became manager of the NY Mets.

With the Mets, Valentine went to the World Series in 2000. In addition to this, Valentine revolutionized the game of baseball in Japan during his time managing the Chiba Lotte Marines. Valentine, however, has not managed in America since 2002 and in the past couple of years has spent his time occasionally criticizing the Red Sox as an ESPN analyst.

The reactions coming from Red Sox Nation on the hiring of Bobby Valentine are a mixed bunch. When discussing Valentine, it is seemingly impossible to ignore his ego. In his hometown of Stamford, Conn., Bobby Valentine is an icon — talented and confident, rather than arrogant.

Often times he has been called a polarizing figure due to his larger-than-life antics.

Valentine answered the critics during his introductory press conference, “Polarizing is a tough one. I’ve heard a lot of adjectives in my life. I can’t describe them all and I won’t defend them all. It’s about reputation versus characters … I don’t know if I’m polarizing and those other things. I’m just what I am.”

A lot of attention goes to Valentine’s personality — and maybe rightly so. However, Valentine comes off as a no-nonsense kind of manager. I have little doubt that Valentine will put nothing but all of his heart into the game and the players. This means demanding the opposite of players who slack off in the dugout and eat a few too many chicken wings.

The Sox have the skill, but the team needs a good kick in the boot to tap into their talent. Valentine might bring drama, but with it, he might bring wins. I’m going to run on optimism for this one because, for the first time since September, Valentine ushers in a change to look forward to.

What will become of Valentine’s reign, though, will only be solidified for Boston fans when he takes the field.

For now, the Red Sox are at the beginning of rebuilding a fallen empire and Valentine is at the heart of the reconstruction.