Analyzing Bobby Valentine’s hiring as Terry Francona’s successor as manager of the Boston Red Sox, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes writes the former “is out of the Dean Wormer generation when it comes to putting up with frat-house antics”. “Demonstrative, outspoken, volatile, demanding, he is certain to bring a level of public accountability to a group of players who may have grown too comfortable,” gushes Edes, perhaps forgetting that it was under Valentine’s watch Bobby Bonilla and Rickey Henderson spent the final 3 innings of an NLCS elimination game playing cards in the clubhouse. That said, “laid back” is not a term that commonly comes to mind when discussing Valentine, whose ascension to one of the top jobs in baseball might not be met with celebration in some quarters, particularly the bucket training table of one Josh Beckett, of whom BoSox Injection’s Rick Meegan writes, “I can only imagine he’s been in the Tim Tebow praying position ever since Bobby V’s name came up in the managerial search.”
Beckett (above) has no one but himself to blame for this predicament. He was the ring leader of the beer guzzling, fried chicken eating band of merry men. Welcome to reality Josh, your days of leading teammates down the wrong path just came to an abrupt halt. Isn’t Bobby V. exactly what Larry Lucchino was looking for? A person with a history of being volatile with his players. A manger with a take no prisoners approach. I still think Theo was behind the whole; let’s find us an inexperienced manager to fill Francona’s slot theory. It never made sense. This is a team of veterans who are headstrong and beat to their own drums. We all thought Jason Varitek had the respect from the players in the clubhouse but that wasn’t the case at all. I for one never thought Dale Sveum was the answer for this team and thankfully so did the Red Sox ownership. Yes, poor little Ben Cherington got his feelings hurt in the process, he will survive.
I realize it’s tempting to assume Valentine will arrive at spring training looking to bury Beckett and Carl Crawford at every available opportunity, but keep in mind, the former Rangers / Mets skipper has a habit of embracing (fellow) pariahs. Recall if you will, the time he misquoted Cal Ripken Jr. in an attempt to bolster Armando Benitez’ reputation.
“Clearly, the bar for basketball greatness isn’t set too high in Turkey,” scoffed USA Today’s Tom Weir upon learning Besiktas had retired Deron Williams’ #8 jersey after just 15 games with the club. Williams, who is rejoining the Newark Nets just in time for the club to make a push for Dwight Howard, averaged 21.8 points per game and 6.5 assists during his blink-and-you-missed-it tenure in Istanbul, numbers far more impressive, than say, those accumulated by Mike Piazza during his 5 games with the Florida Marlins in 1998.
OK, I’m paraphrasing a bit. But a little more than a week after Jason Whitlock called ESPN’s Mark Schwartz, “morally bankrupt” for his role in bringing the accusations against Syracuse assistant hoops coach Bernie Fine to national attention, the Worldwide Leader is facing criticism of an entirely different sort. In the view of The Daily Beast’s Allen Barra, the network didn’t do nearly enough to sound the alarm concerning Fine. “Turn on an ESPN channel today or go to its website,” argues Barra, “and you’ll find someone taking a bow for ‘breaking’ the Syracuse story. What you won’t find is anyone stepping forward to answer the question of why, for nearly eight and a half years after receiving the Bobby Davis-Laurie Fine tape, they did … nothing.”
Did it really take ESPN that long to find other samples of Laurie Fine’s voice? Could they not have sent a reporter to Syracuse or knock on her door to try to get a statement from her? Even a verbal rebuff would have given them a voice sample. Where, in fact, did ESPN get these extra voice samples, and why did it take so long?
Perhaps because until now no one at ESPN was trying?
Penn State lost a university president, a legendary head football coach, an athletic director, and a school administrator because they heard allegations of sexual abuse and did nothing to investigate or follow up. Who, I wonder, at ESPN—the network, the magazine, or the website—had knowledge of the Syracuse allegations—allegations of boys being raped—and decided not to pursue them?
Who at ESPN is the equivalent of a board of trustees who will now step in and do the right thing by firing those responsible? Because this time boys weren’t raped just because the good old boys looked the other way. This time, boys were raped because the good old boys who were supposed to be watching the good old boys looked the other way.
Who amongst us isn’t dying to see a film about a misunderstood baseball genius with questionable social skills? Anybody? While former Rangers/Mets skipper Bobby Valentine suffers an unflattering Al Gore comparison from one observer, veteran baseball broadcaster / TV writer Ken Levine (“MASH”, “Frasier”, “Cheers”, “Everybody Loves Raymond”) recalls a few horror stories of occasions in which civilians have attempted to push a script upon him. Guess which widely-ridiculed manager’s name pops up? (link swiped from Baseball Prospectus)
When I was announcing for the Orioles I once got thrown out of Bobby Valentine’s office for asking tough questions. He was then the manager of the Texas Rangers. Fifteen minutes later I was summoned back, obviously to receive an apology. No. He had heard I was a writer and pitched me a movie. Try not to be an asshole first.
Years ago I and another writer, Larry, were asked to speak at a UCLA extension class. I was a story editor on MASH at the time and he was story editor of RHODA. As we stood in front of the class lecturing, a friend overhead one young woman saying to another: “I think I’ll fuck Larry. I’d rather do a RHODA”.
Former Florida head coach Urban Meyer signed a lucrative pact Monday to take over the Ohio State football program, a move that came after Meyer spent a year as an ESPN analyst and presumably getting his fix of quality family time. Whether it was his doctor or his wife who ordered him to leave the Gators, Meyer’s manner of departure is being second guessed by the Gainsville Sun’s Pat Dooley, who despite urging Florida fans to “get over it” (“it’s not like he took a job at, oh, I don’t know, South Carolina where he planned on trying to beat you every year,”) suggests there’s some justification for resentment.
What Meyer should have said when he left Florida was, “Hey guys, I’m burned out. I’ve been doing this a long time and I just don’t have the energy to fix this program again. I need some down time.”
Instead, he said it was about his family and health. That’s why the Gator Nation is angry enough today to download the Michigan fight song as a ring tone.
Before he took the Ohio State job, Meyer expressed concerns over his legacy at Florida. He told me he was amazed at the anger expressed toward him as Florida struggled to a 6-6 season.
“All I did for six years is go into that office every day and work my tail off,” he said. “And then I go out to get a sandwich and somebody is yelling at me because they had a bunch of false start penalties.”
Meyer truly believes he left a good team behind for Will Muschamp. He told me he believes there are four offensive linemen on the current team who will play in the NFL.
I mentioned that to someone in the football office who responded, “Has he watched us play?”
While stopping short of calling for the firing or resignation of Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim — who earlier this month labelled accusers of alleged sex criminal / assistant coach Bernie Fine a bunch of opportunistic hustlers — the Syracuse Post-Standard’s Bud Polquin, pontificates, “so many folks, a fair amount of whom are employed by SU, may well be squirming on this bleak morning.” Chiefly amongst them, Boeheim, who at the time of Fine being implicated by ESPN, insisted, “I’ve known Bernie for 40-plus years, and I don’t believe in any way, shape or form he would ever even pat a kid on the shoulder. Is that clear enough?”
Was there some kind of cover-up in 2002 when Bobby Davis tried to tell his tale to various authorities? What did people in positions of power, particularly at SU, know and, if they did know something, when did they know it … and why did they apparently not act? Will others up there on the Syracuse campus follow the disgraced Fine out the door?
Already the main topic of discussion in this town, it was expanded on Sunday after that incriminating dialogue between Bobby Davis and Laurie Fine was followed by the swinging of Syracuse Chancellor Nancy Cantor’s sword. And Boeheim, Bernie’s boss? On Sunday afternoon, he’d answered his telephone only to offer that he had nothing to say. By Sunday night, beyond the release of a statement attributed to him, he’d gone silent (for public consumption, anyway) altogether.
And yet, his earlier comments still wafted.
“We’re going to believe that Bernie will be completely — completely — exonerated in this,” Boeheim said. “The university and me and everybody else. If something happened, then we will deal with that.”
Something seems to have happened. Something fairly unspeakable.
As you’re probably all too aware, Buffalo WR Stevie Johnson’s warm-up act for a succession of crucial dropped passes in yesterday’s 28-24 loss to the J-E-R-K-S was a TD catch celebration that included miming shooting himself in the leg, ala Gang Green’s convicted felon, Plaxico Burress. Johnson’s self-expression provided NBC’s Bob Costas with an anti-showboating platform for his weekly “Football Night In America” commentary, remarks Black Sports Online’s Robert Litall took considerable exception to, in specific, Costas sneering, “hey, knuckleheads, is it too much to ask that you confine your buffoonery to situations that don’t directly damage your team?”
Using a term like buffoon while singling out a majority of African-American players is nothing but code for “hood, Ghetto, hip hop & Afrocentric” type behavior and that is exactly how the majority of the white audience will take it.
When in reality from Aaron Rodgers’ “Championship Belt” dance to Jared Allen “Hog Tie” dance, celebrations have no race, but I am sure the term “buffoon” wouldn’t have been used if was Jordy Nelson who mocked Plaxico.
Stevie Johnson and Plaxico Burress handle the situation like men, the only Buffoon in this situation is Costas who by perpetuating stereotypes with boldface lies and ignorance, proved he isn’t as smart as he think he is.
I generally don’t wake up Monday morning thinking of ways to defend Bob Costas, nor do I share the Sandusky-interrogator’s wholesale distaste for…well, what did we used to call, fun? However, I think it is a slight stretch to find racial overtones in his use of “buffoon”. Where Aaron Rodgers or Jared Allen guilty of saddling their respective teams with penalties due to their chosen brand of celebration, Costas would be completely justified in calling them idiots. Indeed, in Johnson’s case, Costas has specifically mocked someone besides a white athlete. He ought to feel completely free to do so, just so long as as the public misdeeds of dopes like Rex Ryan, Brett Favre and Brian Cushing are under similar scrutiny.
If you believe the rumor mill, Gene Lamont is GM Ben Cherrington’s pick for new skipper of the Boston Red Sox, while CEO Larry Lucchino is said to favor former Rangers/Mets manager Bobby Valentine. Though the latter’s poor reputation with opponents and former players is the stuff of legend, Lucchino must not be an avid reader of the baseball press, as he asked former New York Times scribe Murray Chass for his opinion of Valentine. “I would rather not have people I am interviewing ask me questions,” grumbled Chass, who somehow manages to resent the intrusion while still going to great lengths to bury Bobby V. Chief amongst Valentine’s crimes, suggesting to reporters Todd Hundley needed more sleep, code, apparently, for the former Mets catcher having a drinking problem.
In Todd Hundley’s view, the problem with Valentine began when the manager appeared to be jealous of the player’s standing with the fans. ”He comes into a whole new situation and goes right after I guess the most popular guy,” Hundley said. ”It’s not my fault I’m the most popular guy.”
”I’m talking to my mom while she’s going through chemotherapy,” Hundley said, ”and I’m helping my wife with taking care of our two kids and he’s saying I’m out and about.”
”You see him coming from a mile away,” Hundley said. ”He thinks he’s working in the shadows, but he’s not. You can see right through him. I didn’t have to remember what I said to who and keep track of all this other junk. I’m not going to lie. It seemed like he had to keep track of, I said this to this guy, this to this guy, this to this guy and he got caught up in his web.”
Valentine, meanwhile, demonstrated a large dose of class several years later when a mutual acquaintance introduced my nephew to him in the workout room of a Las Vegas hotel. Told that he was “Murray Chass’ nephew,” Valentine said of me, “He’s a despicable human being.”
Relating the story to me, Kenny said, “Look on the bright side; at least he still referred to you as a human being.”
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, in a long, on-air simplistic, facts-barren and bigoted spew that seemed taken from the Josef Goebbels How-To Handbook, Francesa not only laid the mass murders at the feet of Israel and on the heads of Jews, he strongly suggested that Jews are unpatriotic Americans, thus make suspect U.S. citizens.
WFAN still has been unable to find the tape from that day — what a coincidence! — and Francesa has denied saying any such things. But he’s a liar. As did many others, I heard him, and wrote about it then. And if I’m wrong, if I made this story up then had it published here, that would be highly actionable, a slam-dunk, can’t-lose libel suit. So then sue me.
More recently, when I again raised this issue here, Francesa again, on the air, denied it, this time adding that a Jewish watchdog agency had even given him, in this matter, clearance.
Really? Which agency? Who, where, when? Tell us. Show us. If the tape is missing, or was erased, or eliminated, or just disappeared or it’s being subjugated, how could any group have issued him such a thumbs-up, declaring that he never spoke such things?
The Bruins are 6-6. Five of those conference losses are by 25 or more points. They got beat 50-0 by USC on Saturday and squeezed past Oregon State by only eight points earlier this season. And so the first conference championship game, promised to be laced with all kinds of pageantry, no doubt, ends with the losing coach shaking hands, then getting fired on his way out of the building with his non-bowl-eligible team.
I know, the Trojans have that bowl ban, but I challenge anyone to look at how this has played out and not believe it’s a shame that Lane Kiffin’s team won’t play in the conference title game. We all deserve better than UCLA-Oregon.
The Bruins got here by virtue of a tiebreaker, a USC bowl ban, and the fact that they didn’t have to play Oregon in the regular season. Which is only to say they are going to be ushered into Autzen Stadium next Friday, and they’ll look around, see the shiny championship trophy, and all the fans screaming, and smile, just before they realize that this whole thing is a set-up and they’re the meal.