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Bobby V Should Revive Stale Rivalry



By Mike Silva ~ November 30th, 2011. Filed under: New York Yankees.

The Red Sox and Yankees have been called the “best rivalry in sports,” but it hasn’t been that way in a long time. As a matter of fact, it’s gone from the “best rivalry” to the most “boring” or “corporate” rivalry in sports. That all changed late last night when John Henry, Larry Lucchino, and Ben Cherington hired Bobby Valentine to take over Boston’s managerial reigns.

It wasn’t that long ago that Lucchino called the Yankees the “evil empire,” a moniker that has stuck ever since. It was a rivalry that saw Pedro Martinez throw Don Zimmer to the ground, and send a couple of Yankees to the hospital for x-rays. Remember when Karim Garcia and Jeff Nelson got into it with a Fenway groundskeeper? And who can forget “who’s your daddy” chants from the Yankee Stadium faithful.

The last few years all that has changed. The Sox appear to have vanquished their hatred of the Yankees after being on the right end of the 2004 ALCS collapse, and winning a second World Series in 2007. Maybe it’s because both teams haven’t faced each other in the postseason since ’04. Maybe it’s because when one team has peaked, the other has floundered. Joe Torre and Terry Francona are more laid back personalities so once the “spit and vinegar” players went away, so did the contention in the rivalry. It appeared we were headed for another great 7-game ALCS showdown this year before beer and chicken got in the way.

The best rivalries are the ones in which the players and fans hate the opposition. Extreme passion by the players, front office, managers, and fans is why two opponents become rivals. I think the Red Sox and Yankees want to beat each other, but I’m not sure a 3-game series between the two teams is any different than when another contender like Texas, Los Angeles, or Tampa comes to town. The fans have taken the cue and appear to sit more on their hands during these contests than anything. Perhaps new stadiums and corporate dollars can be blamed, but I think part of it is everyone’s bored with it. MLB and the networks shoved this rivalry down our throat ad nauseam; saturation of anything leads to disenchantment or apathy.  

That’s all changes when Bobby Valentine’s Red Sox take the field against the Yankees next season. He will respect the Yanks, but inevitably something will happen that will cause him to speak his mind. It will start a press war that will rankle Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, or maybe even Hal Steinbrenner.  Remember, if you don’t kiss the ring and genuflect towards the 27 championship trophies the Yankees get their feelings hurt. Remember when Texas owner Chuck Greenberg was critical of the Yankees and their fans? He was forced to apologize even though he really wasn’t totally off base .

I subscribe more to the Jeff Van Gundy belief that you respect your opponent so much that you disrespect them.  There will be no glad-handing the Yankees anymore. He should remember how the fear of Atlanta and the Yankees held his Mets teams back. There shouldn’t be any fear with the Red Sox. They are just as good as the Yankees on the field, maybe better in many facets, and now they are supremely better in the dugout.

Joe Girardi gets platitudes for winning 78 games with the Marlins in 2006, but what team has he managed that’s overachieved? That Marlins team had young talent; we just didn’t realize that at the time. The National League also wasn’t all that strong during that period. Actually, he did what was expected in 2009 when winning a title with the Yankees, and has underachieved in every other season during his tenure. Of course, that’s because of the obtuse “win the World Series or it’s a failure” credo that ownership and fans champion as good business, even though it’s unfair and unrealistic. I didn’t set the standard, they did. Look at Valentine’s Mets rosters from 1997-2001. Let’s see Girardi win 97 games with a rotation that features Al Leiter and a bunch of #3 and #4 starters. Let’s see Girardi go to the World Series with a lineup that had Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonzo with a bunch of role players. Let’s see him win anything with a regular closer and not the freak of nature that has taken the mound the last 15 years.

Maybe Valentine will challenge Girardi to a test, which is something he did to the other big league managers when he was with the Mets. Maybe he takes a backhanded shot at Cashman, like he did to Bobby Cox once upon a time. Maybe he reminds us that the Yankees aren’t as good as everyone thinks. Whatever psychological edge he can employ through his use of words and the press will be on display. It’s great for the media, personally I am thrilled, but maybe it will get the juices up of those zombies that show up to Fenway and Yankee Stadium a combined 18 times a year.

Finally, you want to know why I can tell Valentine is the biggest acquisition the Sox could have made this offseason?  Check out various social media sites and see how Yankees fans routinely mocked his resume and credentials.  That, my friends, is the kind of disrespect I mentioned before. There seemed to be a bit of fear laced in it as well.

Maybe now I can watch a Yankees-Red Sox contest and the biggest news won’t be what stupid banter Joe Buck and Tim McCarver produced.

Bobby V and the Red Sox is a certainly a welcome change to a rivalry gone stale.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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5 Responses to Bobby V Should Revive Stale Rivalry

  1. SPROT

    Listen to me very carefully. I want you to know I genuinely mean this. You’re a terrible writer with rocks for brains, your website sucks, and no one cares what you think. OK?

    OK.

  2. Ralph C

    As a Yankee fan, Valentine does not scare me. Remember the 2009 ALCS, when the media was making Mike Scisocia out to be this great tactician and how he was going to manhandle Girardi? Well, Scioscia had a horrendous series tactically (worse than Girardi), and the Angels played horrible. It’s about the players: if they perform the Sox will win, if they don’t, they will lose. Also, Valentine won with two Mets’ teams pretty much void of superstars. The Red Sox have quite a few of them and one has to wonder, if he gets tough, will they rebel?

  3. Joseph DelGrippo

    Mike,

    I agree that the Sox-Yankees series has become stale, basically because every time they play on a weekend, you see them nationally on Saturday afternoon, then again on Sunday night.

    This past World Series indicates that great games can be played outside of the Northeast.

    But, your Yankees bias continues to be so readily apparent, it comes off as jealousy, pure and simple. If you aren’t jealous of the Yankees (and their franchises 27 rings), it is the Phillies and the city of Philadelphia. Before the Phillies were good, it was the Atlanta Braves.

    Bobby Valentine is a good manager and is great for that Red Sox team. But, if you think that the Sox will be many more wins better because of Bobby V, then you really haven’t followed baseball very long.

    Managers win games when they let their players play the game. IF Bobby V. was so great then he would have taught Timo Perez not to jog around the bases on a deep fly ball; if Bobby V. was so great, he would have had Bobby Jones to groove a first pitch fastball down the middle to Jeter; if Bobby V. was so great, wouldn’t he have played his infield tighter to the middle against Luis Sojo? Or maybe pulled Al Leiter after 140 pitches to bring in a fresh arm?

    “It will start a press war that will rankle Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, or maybe even Hal Steinbrenner.”

    First, I have never seen Hal Steinbrenner or Cashman ever “rankled.” And press wars are stupid bullshit things begun by media members to get a rise out of players and teams. Guys who play the game don’t care about media wars, as media wars can’t influence a game. Since the game of baseball is best played within a calm, controlled demeanor, guys don’t “get up” for bulletin board material because a baseball team can’t physically punish a team like in football and basketball.

    As you know, Mike, I am not the biggest Girardi fan, but he has done a pretty good job as manager of the Yankees. The spotlight has been on him since he signed on, and he has handled things pretty well. And as a Northwestern grad (tough school), he is likely just as smart as or even smarter than Valentine.

    You have constantly told everyone that the two most important aspects for a major league manager are to handle the egos of a clubhouse and to handle a bullpen. Most veteran Yankees appear to have a favorable impression of their manager. Also, the handling of the Posada situation this past year was tremendous by Girardi, and Joe used his bullpen brilliantly all year.

    After Jorge acted like a baby that time he was hitting 9th, he wasn’t released as many people wanted, but was kept on the team. Girardi knew Posada could never act like that again and Posada was basically forced to become a good soldier.

    Then when Girardi needed him, Posada was used extensively in the post season and performed well. Girardi did not use any personal issues with Jorge to affect his decision making regarding the Yankees.

    Girardi pretty much overachieved this past season with a team that was picked by many (including me) to finish behind Boston this season and not even make the playoffs. For the record, I had Boston winning the division and Tampa Bay getting the wild card.

    Girardi had to use rookies such as Eduardo Nunez and Ivan Nova in prime roles, handled the promotion of Jesus Montero well and used a bullpen brilliantly that lost Pedro Feliciano and Joba for the season, and Rafael Soriano for a couple months. He also had a rotation of CC Sabathia and a bunch of “What am I gettings?” after that with Burnett, Hughes, Colon, Garcia and the rookie Nova. At the beginning of the season, I didn’t see a No. 2 starter in that bunch, but you need to give Girardi (and Freddy Garcia) credit for helping develop Nova.

    Valentine had a managers job with Texas for many years and had young guys such as Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, Ruben Sierra and Dean Palmer, and Kevin Brown anchoring a pitching staff.

    But Valentine didn’t get his team to overachieve all that time in Texas.

    Bobby V.’s 1999 team had Al Leiter anchoring the rotation, with a bunch of veteran arms behind him, but also had a very veteran everyday lineup. Mike Piazza, John Olerud, Robin Ventura, Rickey Henderson and Brian McRae were established players with many of them in their primes.

    What helped that pitching staff was the tremendous defense the Mets played that season.

    I do not think Valentine will do that well in the Red Sox clubhouse with all those high priced veterans. Can you imagine Kevin Youkilis getting along with Bobby V? Or Josh Beckett?

    A great manager has control of his clubhouse and the one way they can exert respect is by getting rid of players who do not conform to the manager’s philosophy.

    One great example is when Tony LaRussa rid himself of the Colby Rasmus, even though all the saber-geeks believe Rasmus is a five-tool star. Unfortunately, attitude is not a respected tool in that community. That deal worked out pretty well for the Cardinals.

    I do not believe that Valentine will be able to rid himself of Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett or even Youkilis.

    He needs to work with what he has, with very few changes made to last year’s team. He is best served to let the players play, and leave it up to them. That gets instant respect with a clubhouse, a clubhouse where very few players were in the league the last time Valentine managed.

    Bobby V. is so revered by the Mets fan base because they have had precious little to rave about over the last decade. Blame the Mets organization, but you shouldn’t be jealous of the Yankees organization.

    And as you mentioned on Twitter last night that Valentine means 5 more wins for the Red Sox, that would have meant the Yankees would have only overachieved to win the division last year by two games over the Sox, and not the seven they beat them by.

  4. Stu Baron

    As good a job as Bobby V did, you failed to mention that the 2000 Mets had Al Leiter, Mike Hampton, and Rick Reed heading the starting rotation and a very strong and deep bullpen headed by Benitez, Franco, Dennis Cook, and Turk Wendell. The team got to the World Series because of the pitching as much as any other reason.

  5. Frank Russo

    Mike,

    IF Valentine openly disrespects either Cashman, the Yankees management or the Yankee players, then he will be a marked man. Francona never went out of his way to disrespect the Yankees, no matter how the rivalry went.

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