No love for Valentine in Boston

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:06 AM ET

If you don’t think that September is the longest, cruelest month of the year, then your name is not Bobby Valentine.

While many factors have converged in the past 12 months to make this year in Boston a cancerous blot on their recent successful history, it isn’t all Valentine’s fault. He’s just a handy target.

It’s doubtful if the ghosts of John McGraw, Walter Alston, Casey Stengel and Sparky Anderson could have prevented the cannibals from feasting on the carcass of a team that was hailed (mostly in Boston) as “the best team ever” not long before it collapsed under an avalanche of hubrus in September last year.

It has taken a year for the bones to be picked clean but the wounds will continue to be probed, probably until Valentine is expelled, inevitably, from the manager’s office. That firing will be easily justified on the club’s record alone. No need to blame him for all his imagined sins. The Red Sox, or what’s left of them after the massive trade that sent $260-million of payroll commitment to Los Angeles, have performed pitifully and without honour.

They are coming off a 1-8 road trip in which they lost their first seven games and were outscored 58-16 in the seven games. They have lost 13 of their past 17 and 20 of their past 28. Every time Valentine turns around he’s being mugged again in the media.

Wednesday, a day after the Sox won their only game in their nine-game west coast swing, in his weekly interview with radio station WEEI in Boston, Valentine was accused of having “checked out” by co-host Glenn Ordway. Valentine went ballistic.

“What an embarrassing thing to say,” Valentine said. “If I were there right now, I’d punch you right in the mouth. Ha, ha. How’s that sound? Sound like I checked out? What an embarrassing thing. Why would somebody even ... that’s stuff that a comic strip person would write. If someone’s here, watching me go out at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, working with the young players, watching me put in the right relief pitchers to get a win, putting on a hit-and-run when it was necessary, talking to the guys after the game in the food room, how could someone in real life say that?”

He later suggested he was only joking about the punch but was still angry about having his integrity questioned.

There was another nitpicky issue surrounding Valentine’s decision to pick his son up at the San Francisco Airport last Friday. On the way back to the Oakland Coliseum, he got caught in traffic. Even though he got to the park at 4 p.m. for a 7:10 game, he was accused of being late.

“So I got to the stadium a little later than normal — not late,” Valentine said, adding that he had checked in with the training staff and submitted that night’s lineup while in his car.

Such is life in the Fenway fishbowl. There’s more of this to come. Guaranteed.

FRIDAY'S PITCHER

Felix Doubront

Season: 10-7, 5.03

Career v Toronto: 1-1, 4.67

Doubront will show hitters a decent changeup and, occasionally a curve, but his meat-and-potatoes is a 92 m.p.h. fastball that he doesn’t always command well.

BLUE JAYS AT RED SOX

Friday, 7:10 p.m.RHP Henderson AlvarezLHP Felix Doubront

Saturday, 7:10 p.m.LHP J.A. HappRHP Daisuke Matsuzaka

Sunday, 1:35 p.m.RHP Carlos VillanuevaRHP Clay Buccholz

HOT/NOT

HOT

During a 15-game hit streak that ended with an 0-3 Wednesday, Dustin Pedroia was 24-for-61, with 7 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 11 R, 6 BB, 6 SB. He has a hit in 28 of his past 30 games (45-for-120) and has an MLB-leading 14 2B in that span.

NOT

Since being recalled in early August as backup C when Kelly Shoppach was dealt, Ryan Lavarnway is 13-for-77 (.169) with just 4 extra-base hits and a .473 OPS.

Jon Lester’s ERA peaked at 5.49 in July but since then he has won four of his last seven starts and lowered his ERA by 1.5 runs, tossing an average of 7 innings-per-start.

After hitting 32 HR to finish as runnerup in the AL MVP vote in 2011, Jacoby Ellsbury’s injury-plagued 2012 season has been a mess. Since August 1 he has 1 HR and 10 RBI with an OPS of .638. In August/September last year, he hit 15 HR and drove in 43.

FIDLIN’S TAKE

Imagine yourself a Blue Jays fan last March, looking at the 2012 schedule thinking: “Hmmmm. Boston. Early September. Three-game weekend set. Could be big. OK ... ROAD TRIP!” Today? Not so much. This is going to be a taffee pull between the halt and the lame, a total afterthought to the Yankees and Orioles in Baltimore.

Prediction: Anger. Ridicule. Humiliation. And that’s even before the players leave home for the ball park. It has been that kind of season. Just a second while I flip a coin. Heads. Red Sox win two of three.


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