[personal profile] dt_maxwell
Today, the Red Sox fired manager Bobby Valentine following a joke of a season in which the Sox finished 69-93 - their worst record in forty-seven years. They sucked, and they sucked hard. I was in the student lounge at the time when someone turned on ESPN and the news broke and I freely admit that I shot up off the couch, arms in the air as I shouted "YES!" and did a victory dance out into the hall to call Dad.

(Luckily the rest of the lounge at the time was only lightly occupied, and most of those were 1Ls from my section, and it's common knowledge I'm from Boston.)

Watching the Red Sox this season has been nothing short of painful. They were sloppy. They were off their game. They had some moments of glory, but they weren't a team.

(And then Johnny Pesky died in mid-August and oh, God, I don't have the words to describe how hard I cried after learning the heart and soul of the organization had died. My only consolation was that Johnny was with Ted and all his other friends, and that a truly amazing game of baseball was being played somewhere on the other side of the Pearly Gates.)

Many of the problems I lay at Bobby Valentine's feet. He had no idea how to handle the players. The players didn't respect him. He made questionable, even outright idiotic, managing decisions throughout the season (including one I will get to in just a moment). He made outright rude and snide comments to players, including rookie Will Middlebrooks while Middlebrooks was in a slump.

Bobby V should have been fired at the All-Star break; maybe things could have been salvaged with someone else at the helm. My dad was of the opinion the Sox should have fired Valentine when they traded Beckett and Gonzalez to the Dodgers (and Beckett was a bad apple in the clubhouse, getting rid of HIM was definitely a good move, and I don't think Gonzalez was happy in Boston or on the East Coast period), but as I told him, there was no point: things had already spiraled so far into the basement that there wasn't a hope in hell the Sox could turn the season around even with a new manager.

Much as I missed watching NESN and Sox games with commentary by Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy when I moved to Pennsylvania, I was also relieved: I didn't have to watch the Sox slide further into the AL East basement. Were I still in New England in general, I would have felt obligated to watch, because the Sox are my boys and my team and no matter how painful, given the opportunity I will watch them play.

According to Dad, sports radio up in Boston had been pretty much solely concerned about laying bets for when the Sox would fire Valentine. General consensus had been Friday afternoon; Thursday, the day after the last game of the season, was believed to be just a little too soon.

Then last night happened.

It was the last game of the season, playing the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees and Orioles were fighting for the division title; the Sox were firmly in last place, but they had to win to make sure that the Orioles took the division rather than the Yankees. Everyone wanted the Orioles to take the AL East, they had an amazing season and an amazing turn around and they earned it. Plus, y'know, fuck the Yankees.

Bobby fucking Valentine sent out Daisuke Matsuzaka.

He lasted two and a third, two and two-thirds innings. The Yankees spanked the Sox 14-2 and took the division. An embarrassing end to an awful season.

Like I told Dad: of course the Sox fired Valentine today, his decision ended the season for the team in complete and utter humiliation AND gave the fucking Yankees the division title on a goddamn silver platter.

As we move into the postseason, I'll be cheering for the Atlanta Braves: Chipper Jones is retiring once the season ends after nineteen years in the MLB playing for the Braves, and I can think of no better end for such an amazing and talented player than to go out with a championship ring. Next season will be the first season I won't hear the name "Chipper Jones" be brought up in baseball news; so many players I grew up watching, who defined the sport of baseball for me, are either retired or retiring and it breaks my heart. I'd like at least one to get a perfect ending.

And then once the postseason is over, the rest of the country will turn its full attention to football and basketball and hockey (once the lockout ends, anyway). The Red Sox will hire a new manager, trade away players, obtain and sign others, build the team anew. I'll spend my winter watching the trades and hoping so-and-so a player is signed (or resigned), and waiting for and dreaming of spring training, and an opening day bereft of the infectious joy of Number 6.

There is no question that this season was terrible. But the cardinal rule to remember about baseball is that, even if your team has hit rock bottom, there is always - always - next season.
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