Manager Bobby Valentine of the Boston Red Sox poses for a portrait at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Bobby Valentine has wasted no time aggravating Yankees fans. He'll fit in here nicely:
This is at least topical, with Jason Varitek's retirement looming. Yankees fans won't agree -- ask them about how Varitek kept his mask on sometime, and see what kind of reaction you get all these years later -- but as said, it's topical. Part two, however, sounds like Valentine is having a little fun:
He also called into question the claim that Derek Jeter practiced his famed flip-to-home relay that nailed Jeremy Giambi at the plate in Game 3 of the ALDS in 2001.
Valentine thinks the throw from the outfield would have nailed Giambi without aid from Jeter. He also claims Jeter didn't practice the play (and the Red Sox won't practice it either), although former manager Buck Showalter would dispute that claim.
Is Valentine on to something? Rewatching brings up the same "was he out or wasn't he?" arguments that existed when the play occurred (guess which side Athletics fans are on?), and you can validly claim that the throw was off the line and Jeter did make a great play by feeding up a more easily-fielded throw to Jorge Posada. A discussion probably doesn't matter, though, because we don't know if the ball would have hit Posada in time without Jeter's assistance or not. But if you're a Red Sox manager looking to upset an entire opposing fan base, then this is what you do.
Valentine has been busy with other items on his agenda as well, not just digging up sacred Yankee memories and stamping on them. He banned alcohol in the Red Sox clubhouse, and also on the last leg of team flights. Peter Gammons writes about why this isn't a public relations move, but is instead just how a Valentine clubhouse is run:
It isn't a reaction to all the notoriety about pitchers reportedly sipping beer and a couple of times ordering fried chicken late on nights they weren't pitching. It's about decorum and, perhaps more important, liability. The Yankees haven't provided alcohol for years; if a player were involved in an accident driving home and he'd had a few beers provided by the club, what would be the liability to sports' most historic franchise? Same with the Red Sox.
The players, at least the ones that have been heard from publicly, support the move. More teams have an alcohol ban than do not. It's one less thing that we can spend an off-season complaining about if the 2012 campaign doesn't work out as we hope. It also makes it clear this is Bobby Valentine's clubhouse, with Bobby Valentine's rules. The reports of dissent and disarray in the clubhouse from 2011 might have been exaggerated, but the climate existed to a degree. And if Valentine's ban on alcohol helps get rid of that even a little, then it's no wonder the players would be for it. They want to win, and Valentine wants to win, and both parties are likely to do whatever they can to get to that point and erase September of 2011 from the books, even if it means fewer beers on their days off.
We've covered Bullpen Banter's Top 100 prospect list in this space previously, but they also create separate Top 100 lists for their contributors. Red Sox fan Al Skorupa published his personal Top 100, and there are five Red Sox farmhands on it: Xander Bogaerts, Matt Barnes, Garrin Cecchini, Will Middlebrooks, and Blake Swihart. Unlike some lists, these guys are all in the top 70, too.