Here’s Bobby Valentine
The new manager of the Red Sox is brash, opinionated....and about to make them a hell of a lot more interesting, whether you like it or not.
IN THE WHIRLWIND of coming here, is there anything thatâ€™s surprised you?
Well, Iâ€™m still getting acclimated, so Iâ€™ll say that all life experiences are fun, and theyâ€™re the most fun when theyâ€™re new or theyâ€™re the best.
Have you gotten a chance yet to discover the joys of the Boston real estate market?
Iâ€™m trying to. Iâ€™ve only gotten to look at a few places. I havenâ€™t had time, you know. Iâ€™d like to live somewhere close to the ballpark.
Weâ€™ll give the address so all the fans can come visit you.
Exactly, that would be something that Iâ€™d like.
How was it for you in New York? Everybody always says that people there leave celebrities alone when theyâ€™re walking down the street.
Really? I never really found that to be the case.
How do you think New York and Boston are different? Â
It seems like a greater part of the population here takes ownership with what Iâ€™m doing.
Weâ€™re sort of a little more crazy here.
Have you had any interesting interactions with fans? Do people come up to you?
Everyone comes up to me. I guess Iâ€™m very approachable.
Has it been all positive?
I guess. I think right now Iâ€™m still in the honeymoon, so itâ€™s been fun.
I ask because, going back to the way last season ended â€” Â
Maybe they feel like I wasnâ€™t a part of what happened at the end of last season, so theyâ€™re giving me a bit of a break.
It feels like a level of cynicism, or anger, that we havenâ€™t felt around here in a while has crept back into fans. Have you run into that?
Cynicism? No, I think Iâ€™ve run into true emotion. I think that true emotion is a good thing.
Is there anything that you can do, or the team can do, to win back some of the trust people lost last year?
Now? I donâ€™t think so. Itâ€™ll probably take a whole season. It took a whole season to have them feel whatever they feel. Why shouldnâ€™t it take a whole season to remove it?
Fans seem to be lumping your hiring process in with the problems from last season. Everybody was speculating about the dynamics between Larry Lucchino and Ben Cherington â€” and who really made the decision. Have you heard from any fans who were skeptical about how that went?
Not one iota of any of that.
Not from anyone, except for you. Itâ€™s the first time Iâ€™ve heard about skepticism.
Well certainly at your introductory press conference, it was something that people were asking about, right?
I guess. I donâ€™t know. You know, again, everything thatâ€™s happening seems to be moving forward, and thatâ€™s where I like to be moving. And one thing you canâ€™t do anything about is what happened in the past. Being as good as you can be in the present is what I think we all have to focus on.
How will your dynamic with Ben Cherington work in season, like if thereâ€™s a decision â€” Â
No idea? Too soon? Â
I mean, I have an idea. Weâ€™ve worked together thus far [on] all decisions that have been made, and I think weâ€™ll continue to work together. Why wouldnâ€™t we? I donâ€™t think heâ€™s going to want to come down and talk about, in the seventh inning, a pitching change, and I donâ€™t know that Iâ€™m going to necessarily want to know every thought he has. But I think weâ€™ll be working together.
So if thereâ€™s a decision, like where someoneâ€™s batting in the lineup â€”
Where someoneâ€™s batting in the lineup?
Yeah. Is that something you would talk with him about?
I would think so. I mean, not on a daily basis.
So who has the final say on that, if thereâ€™s a dispute?
Batting in the lineup?
I donâ€™t think thereâ€™d be a dispute, but I would think I would get the final say. I bring the lineup out to the umpire.
Do you think youâ€™ll be consulted on trades, that sort of thing?
Well, I have been so far.
Shifting a little, growing up in Stamford, Connecticut, were you a Yankees fan?
Is there like a ritual cleansing bath you have to go through for that?
What made you want to stay in baseball after you were done as a player?
I love the game so much. I was doing other things, trying to make a living. I opened a restaurant. I led a lot of business ventures, but I always tried to stay in the game. So I was a roving instructor for the Padres, I was a roving instructor for the Mets, and I was a big-league coach for the Mets, and a few years before that I was a big-league manager for the Rangers.
You suffered a bad injury that really affected your career. After you got hurt, and spent more time as a utility player on the bench, did you start watching the game more like a manager would?
Yeah, thatâ€™s basically how it was. I always, even as a player, tried to watch it as a manager would. But when I wasnâ€™t starting, I watched it more closely. And players would come to me for advice and tips, and I liked it. I was playing in one of those years â€” I guess 1976 â€” I was in the minor leagues in Hawaii, AAA, when the manager left because his wife was sick. He turned the team over to me to manage, so I got a little taste of playing and managing for a couple months. We actually won a championship, and I thought that was probably the route that Iâ€™d take.
What do you think the biggest difference is between you as a manager right now and you when you were in Texas and New York? Â
I have no idea what the biggest difference is.
So I have to go ask somebody else?
Yeah, probably someone who is playing for me today and someone who was playing for me then. If you find that person, make sure you point him out to me.
When your name comes up on SportsCenter or wherever else, one of the first things that comes up is the mustache thing.
Yeah. Iâ€™m glad I did it. Itâ€™s something thatâ€™s brought a lot of joy and laughter to a lot of people, and it seems like they really thought it was meant to be a little light side of baseball. Thatâ€™s a good thing.
So it doesnâ€™t annoy you to always hear about it? You just think it was sort of fun?
Yeah, that doesnâ€™t annoy me. The big thing was my players thought it was funny, and that was a good thing.
Having won a championship in Japan but not yet a World Series here, do you ever think about what your legacy will be when youâ€™re done?
I might think about it when Iâ€™m done.
But not yet?
Why would I do that?
I donâ€™t know, in a quiet moment of reflection, maybe.
I try to, you know, deal with today and look forward. I never think anything is done. Itâ€™s all part of the process.
I have to ask: Are you a fan of fried chicken? Do you have it at your restaurant? Â
We have wings. We have beer, obviously.
So do you have a favorite type? White meat, dark meat?
No, I donâ€™t think I do. I like wings.
Do you go hot or mild?
You know, I like the wings at my place. I like them when theyâ€™re hot. Sometimes Iâ€™ll get them medium. Never do it mild.
Are you on Twitter?
Oh, I have a Twitter account. I donâ€™t actively tweet.
Any chance of that happening in the future?
I donâ€™t think so.
No? We canâ€™t get you to, like, tweet out pitching changes during a game or something?
I donâ€™t think so. I guess during the game weâ€™re not allowed to do it, so I donâ€™t think that will happen.
One other request: Youâ€™re an accomplished ballroom dancer and taught lessons before the games in Japan. Any chance we can get you to do that at Fenway?
I think everyone knows the cha-cha here.
When you were hired, lots of people said that it would only be a matter of time before you said something that would get you in trouble. Is that something youâ€™re conscious of, or do you just go say what you say and do what you do?
Yeah, I say what I say and do what I do, and itâ€™s an inevitability that someone â€” or many people â€” will decide that I say things that make headlines. Thatâ€™s the way the world works these days, I guess. All 30 managers are in pretty much the same predicament.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2012/03/fenway-park-turns-100-bobby-valentine/