So Could They Actually Fire Bobby V?

On May 23, 1993, the Cincinnati Reds stunned the baseball world. Just 44 games into a season in which they were only four below .500, they fired first-year manager Tony Perez and replaced him with Davey Johnson.

I’m not claiming this is the definitive record for the fastest blowout of a new skipper but those of us sitting around the press box at CitiField tonight think it is. We knew the Reds’ Hall of Famer went out even faster than had poor Les Moss, finally given a shot to manage in the majors after 20 years’ apprenticeship as a coach, only to be cashiered by the Tigers in favor of Sparky Anderson on June 11, 1979.

Is it possible? Would anybody – let alone the Red Sox – off a high-profile skipper 40 games into his tenure? Or 30? The question certainly seems increasingly less like science fiction with every passing day. Now we hear Valentine won’t put Daniel Bard back in the bullpen because he doesn’t want to go.

Man alive, if that’s the real reason, there’s no need to fire poor Bobby. If third-year ex-set-up men get to dictate their roles on a pitching staff we can expect Valentine to just slowly vanish like the Cheshire Cat.

The Red Sox have done some goofy managerial things, and in recent memory. In mid-August 2001, in second place and just five games out, they fired manager Jimy Williams and made pitching coach Joe Kerrigan the skipper. The Sox proceeded to go 17-26 and end up 13-and-a-half out. As the new ownership group took over, they fired Kerrigan and put in coach Mike Cubbage as a spring training caretaker. When the John Henry gang was given formal control of the franchise, Cubbage was fired without ever managing a regular season game. Were that not bizarre enough, this was all done so they could make the ill-fated Grady Little the skipper.

By the way just to clarify – Perez is not the manager fired fastest. We’re limiting this to guys in Valentine’s shoes: newly hired to start a season (and in the cases of Moss and Perez, quickly fired). The overall fastest record either belongs to Cubbage or Wally Backman, hired and fired in the same off-season by the Diamondbacks. Or if you’d prefer the quickest in-season exit, that has to be Eddie Stanky. Lured back to the majors after eight years coaching in college, Stanky took the reins of the Rangers on June 22, 1977. Stanky’s new team beat the Twins 10-8, whereupon Stanky told the startled media that he’d made a huge mistake – and was resigning.


  1. The Real D Guar

    Listening to Cy Bard say he is okay with going to the pen temporarily made me realize how little power V has right now. C’mon I thought V was hired to stop the BS on this club. Don’t fire V, Flog Cherrington.

  2. sojourner28

    From what I’ve read, Bobby V is on thin ice. Can’t say I feel much pity for him.

    I have to admit, while I was reading the blog, something came to my mind. I am NOT saying you and Bobby V are alike, but the phrase “you better watch now, things could go wrong in a hurry” might apply to his few fans. If you have any of those buttons left, you might want to send Bobby a few. 😉

  3. Patricia Ellyn Powell

    I’ve got a heart for Bobby V. There is something light and free in his presence. When I heard that he picked Tony C. (Conig’s) number…I knew that he was a real “valentine”. He has been around the block and around the world, even! But kooky things do happen, Keith, and so you are wise to ask this question. If he goes, it will not be because he is “old” nor will it be that they are hiring that lovable Tito (Terry Francona) back. (Watched him last night as he worked with others to understand the Red Sox ways.) It will be because of the cycle of injustice…they can figure out the root of the problem, but don’t want to go there. Here is hoping they don’t fire him, but since they are looking in all the wrong places, what you suggest is true! And then the Bard (Shout out to Willie Shakespeare on his birthday yesterday!) will be smiling like a Cheshire Cat! Thanks for keeping it real here and seeing into the future. “Coach” Valentine’s birthday is coming up…but lately folks are hired and fired in a time shorter than what is required to give birth to something!

    • Patricia Ellyn Powell

      Though some scream, “Loyalty!”…most have little respect for or even understanding of what that is.

  4. Jim Eggers

    I have written before about my mixed emotions regarding this man, whom I first got to know some 42 years ago. He was a wunderkind, a gifted ball player, friendly, unassuming, and treated us (grounds crew, clubbies etc) as if we were his equal, albeit a vastly more talented one. Fast forward to 1986, he’s managing the Rangers, and another old ball player from my past employer is on his team. As we are chatting about our misspent youths, Bobby V. heads our way, big smile on his face as he has recognized me. My other friend turns towards me, and whispers don’t talk to that a–hole, if you do, we are done. So I wonder when and how he turned into this man who appears to know all there is to know; was it the loss of his playing career (horrible injury) or what, I have no clue. Even so, I say let’s give him 50-60 games , 1 or 2 players off the Dl, and then re-assess.

  5. fireinthedisco

    Firing Bobby V would be a horrible mistake, although it’s seeming more likely by the day. There’s something weird going on in Boston ever since last September. This is a great article; the Red Sox may have to clean house by the time it’s all said and done.

  6. Pingback: Blog Comments Checkpoint #1, #2, and yes, #3. « Fire In The Disco
  7. Sam

    I think Bobby V is safe through at least the All-Star break as long as he doesn’t making any more anti-Youkilis type comments. Cherington wants to save face too. Plus two wins against the Twins (twin wins) means the Red Sox maybe hit bottom against the New York Highlanders.

  8. Michael Green

    Bobby Valentine is a baseball tragedy in some ways. He had a promising career and an injury cut it short. How much that affected him, I do not know. He is the son-in-law of Ralph Branca, and I have wondered how much Branca’s past influences him. If you read or listen to interviews with Branca over the years, methinks he doth protest too much about the Giants cheating in 1951 (they did, but Thomson always had said he didn’t that day), not to mention his complaints about Dodger management. I wonder how much of his views influence Valentine.

    Now, this I DO know about Valentine. He is Tommy Lasorda’s all-time favorite, including that Lasorda wanted him to become manager of the Dodgers. That is enough for me. Lasorda is a marvelous ambassador for baseball, a great salesman, and he outmanaged Davey Johnson and Tony LaRussa in 1988. But I spent 20 years putting up with his strategy, if you could call it that, and as for his personality, he certainly had the habit of being a celebrity-lover and of going after people. One story about the two of them has stuck with me. After Lasorda’s heart attack, the Dodgers named him a vice president, but he really didn’t have much to do. Valentine suddenly brought up the idea in the media of Lasorda becoming his bench coach with the Mets. The Dodgers GM, Fred Claire, said if Lasorda wanted to pursue that, the Dodgers wouldn’t stand in his way, although they always would have a place in the organization for Lasorda. Nothing came of it. Many have said that Lasorda wanted to be GM and might have been if Al Campanis hadn’t screwed up one night; who knows? But I felt at that time that Valentine and Lasorda were spewing just so much balloon juice to get Lasorda some more power in LA.

    And I will never forget the night Valentine came back into the dugout after being ejected wearing fake glasses. Some thought it was funny. I thought it was childish and destructive. And that’s Valentine: he thinks it’s smart and funny, so it must be.

  9. Boston Exile

    Keith, you are a brilliant and informed baseball pundit, and I can’t compete with your knowledge or or passion for the game. But you also are a dear and close friend of Terry Francona, as you have written about extensively here. And judging from what you and others have said about him, he’s the kind of man to inspire deep loyalty in his friends.

    But I do think that this makes you a bit, shall we say, tilted in your writing about the Red Sox and Bobby Valentine. Bobby Valentine didn’t contribute to the ’11 collapse of the Red Sox; he didn’t cause Tito’s resignation, and he didn’t leak any information to the Boston Globe for that nefarious article. For my part, as a BoSox fan who only has access to what the sportswriters say, I understand him to be a smart baseball man and a good guy. I hope he succeeds, because it’s more fun to root for success than failure. Except when it comes to the Yankees.

  10. Rich Procter

    Can I get out of the box here for a moment? Can we think Big Picture? Okay, work with me here. How can Red Sox right the ship…achieve a P.R. coup…put the Yankees on the back page of the NY Times sports section…and ASSURE themselves of a pennant? The answer, my friends, is hiding in plain sight…

    Fire Bobby Valentine….and hire Newt Gingrich.

    FIRST…the man is available. Yes, his visionary, once-in-a-millennium fundamentally transformative, destiny-driven campaign for the presidency was rejected by the pathetic sheeple of the United States, thanks to the insidious plotting and unvarnished vitriol of the lamestream media. HOWEVER…this means that Newt is looking for opportunity, and redemption.

    So what does Newtie bring to the party? Okay, yes, he knows absolutely nothing about baseball except that the Atlanta team should RIGHTLY be called the “Crackers” instead of the Braves. HOWEVER…consider these benefits to hiring Newt.

    1) He’d bring fundamentally transformative lean Six Sigma management principles to the game, including the firing of all those “union” janitors and using BoSox starting pitchers, on their “off” days, to clean the toilets of Fenway.
    2) Before each game, he will challenge the opposing manager to a 2 hour Lincoln-Douglas style debate on the designated hitter rule…and destroy him, of course.
    3) If things don’t work out in Boston, he will move the Red Sox to a colony on the moon.

    I know, I know…you’re gobsmacked by the incontestable logic of my argument. And no, I’m not just saying this because I find Newt Gingrich the single most entertaining figure in America — the modern master of unintentional subtext.

  11. Erik Johnson

    The Red Sox can hit. They do need bullpen help. I don’t like Bobby V at all. But I can’t say he’s to blame for that.

    He does have an obnoxious personality and will be scapegoated by management if necessary.

  12. Larry Johnson

    Caught a reference to Lew Burdette and flashbacked to the summer of 1957 in Milwaukee. That “bushleague” town as the New York papers opined. I was 7 and my Dad got standing room only tickets in the right field extension. The Braves were my heroes. I tuned into Earl Gillespie calling the games leading up to the Series. Especially liked his description of the fog rolling into Candlestick Park. Ah, memory. Warren Spahn, Wes Covington, Joe Adcock, Andy Pafko, Danny O’connell, Red Schoendienst, Del Crandall, Johnny Logan, and HANK AARON. A truly diverse group in a town lead by of all things a socialist mayor I discovered in my later years. But then I was a member of the Knot Hole Club waiting for the 5th inning to be let into the bleachers at home games. In those days my Dad would take me around to the locker room door after the games to get autographs and then we would go to the bars where the players hung out. I can still smell the beer and the smoke. It was wonderful. I played Little League Baseball. Baseball was my sport. I wonder if those remarkable days will ever come again somewhere, sometime. I can dream right? This is America lest we forget. Time out now. Have to tell you I have seen many of you TV shows and in my vernacular shouted right on, let ’em have it, too many times to count. Weaving baseball into your commentaries was neat. Congratulations on an excellent career to date and good luck in the future.

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