Valentine’s tenure with the club may have been brief, but it was impossible to forget. In just a few months, he publicly questioned Kevin Youkilis‘ desire, threatened to punch a radio host in the mouth and failed to research opposing pitchers before making his lineups.
But the most damning thing to emerge that season was a report from our own Jeff Passan saying members of the Red Sox blasted Valentine during a heated meeting with ownership in July. Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez were among the team leaders who despised Valentine and wanted him to be fired.
You can also add designated hitter David Ortiz to that group. In his upcoming memoir, Ortiz rips Valentine, calling the manager “aggravating as hell, arrogant and disrespectful,” and that’s just the start.
Here’s how the excerpt starts:
I had never met Bobby Valentine before 2011. I’d heard of him, seen him on TV and remembered that he was the guy who’d put on a fake mustache to avoid being recognized and thrown out of a game. But I didn’t know the man, so that left me with an interesting decision at the end of the year: Should I listen to my friends, or pretend that I’d never heard a word they said?
Everyone I knew was unimpressed with Valentine, the new manager of the Red Sox. He was hired in late November 2011, and the negative reaction from my baseball friends was instant. There were the sarcastic “good luck” messages. There were ominous warnings to get ready. Some even suggested that, at 36 years old, I probably wanted to retire rather than play for someone like him.
Yeah. That’s enough to grab our attention. Though Ortiz says he was warned by others around the league, he tried to go into the year with an open mind about Valentine.
Turns out, things were much worse than he expected.
The drama began almost immediately in spring training. I remember fighting the thought, very early, We’re going to have an absolutely terrible year.
It was all about him in the spring. It was as if he wanted to prove how smart he was by running us through all these drills he’d used while managing in Japan, drills we had never done before. Bobby was in his own bubble, and I just wanted to get him out of it and tell him, “F— you.”
Valentine rode the players pretty relentlessly, causing Ortiz to wonder if the “Red Sox wanted to hire a daddy, not a manager.” He recounts a moment during spring training when Valentine snapped at infielder Mike Aviles for screaming “I got it” during a pop-up drill. Valentine felt yelling the phrase was unreliable, and didn’t want the players to say it. Aviles’ instincts took over, and Valentine completely lost it.
So when our shortstop, Mike Aviles, got under a ball, he instinctively said, “I got it.” Bobby snapped. It was unlike anything I had ever seen in the majors. He went off on Aviles, cussing and verbally tearing him down in front of everyone. If it had been me, I would have gone up to him, right in front of the fans and dropped a punch.
Ortiz says he, Pedroia and Gonzalez met with Valentine that night to try and tell the manager how he was perceived by the players. That was met with eye rolls from the manager.
Valentine appeared on CBS Sports Network in an attempt to clarify the incident with Aviles.
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) May 11, 2017
During that segment, Valentine explains the drill in painstaking detail and implies that he still believes the players overreacted to the whole thing. Later on, Valentine says he learned “hardly anything” from his short stint in Boston.
It didn’t take long before the players wanted him out. After the team was swept by the Detroit Tigers to open the year, Ortiz’s teammates were ready to boot Valentine before they landed in Toronto.
Bobby’s seat was in the middle of the plane, and the players were in the back. That day I was near the front of our section. I remember looking up and seeing a line of my teammates walking toward me. They were pissed. They said, “We want that mother—— fired before the airplane lands.”
I didn’t know what they might have done if they had gotten to him, but I felt it was way too early in the season for that kind of takeover. He was aggravating as hell, arrogant and disrespectful, but I felt that we needed to try our best to support him.
That was hardly the first time Red Sox players called for Valentine’s job. As Ortiz chronicles the rest of the season, he confirms the July meeting with ownership took place. Despite the players’ protests, Valentine would remain the team’s manager until the end of the year. He was fired a day after the final game of the regular season.
The entire excerpt is worth a read. On top of the Valentine fiasco, Ortiz talks about his personal troubles during the season and recounts his infamous “Boston Strong” speech a few days after the Boston Marathon bombings.
Ortiz was known for his lively personality, so it’s good to see that (and his propensity to drop f-bombs) has carried over to his book. Because of that, we’re guessing this Valentine excerpt was just a tiny sampling of what promises to be an extremely entertaining read.
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