Just as he did an hour earlier, New York Mets pitcher Dave Mlicki walked from the team’s dugout to the pitchers mound at Yankee Stadium. It was the same understated stroll he made to and from the dugout during the game only now the Stadium was quiet, empty and dark. It was eerily cool for a mid-June night. The heat — along with the cheering, jeering and chanting — left in the shadow of 56,188 New Yorkers.
It’s August 19, 2012 and the Boston Red Sox are 59-62, 1 2 ½ games off the pace in the American League East and 6 ½ games behind the Wild Card leader. Bobby Valentine is under fire. Management met with players, sans the manager. The media is speculating. Fans are booing. Every interested in Boston baseball has an opinion about the Red Sox manager – including Valentine.
If Sun Tzu were alive today, and assuming he’d enjoy the game of baseball, he would love the psychological chess match Joe Maddon and Bobby Valentine engaged in over the weekend. The maneuvering that unfolded at Fenway Park in Boston would have been nothing, if not flattering, to the legendary military strategist.
There’s losing and then there’s … uh, well, whatever the Boston Red Sox did Saturday. Leading 9-0 through five innings at home, the Red Sox surrendered a single run in the sixth, seven runs in the seventh inning, seven more in the eighth inning to the New York Yankees, triggering an audible fury in the seats at Fenway Park.
Boston’s front office believes Bobby Valentine is the right person for the job. Red Sox fans believe Valentine’s experience and leadership will lead them back to the top of the American league East. The media — New York Times, Boston Globe, The Atlantic — is, well, salivating over Valentine’s “entertainment” value.
Four days after celebrating his 24th birthday, Bobby Valentine’s promising professional baseball career was crippled when he ran into an outfield fence, shattering his right leg.
He spent the next five months in a cast, healing a broken bone that was set wrong. He rehabbed in the Dominican Republic, playing winter ball for Tommy Lasorda. He would often trip and fall while trying to run to first. Ralph Branca, Valentine’s father-in-law, said he cried when he saw how the injury sapped his talent.
Joe Torre, executive vice president of operations for Major League Baseball, explained away the League’s decision requiring all teams to wear official team hats on September 11 saying, “Certainly it’s not a lack of respect. It’s just something we feel is the right thing to do.”