Is this officially ridiculous yet?
Are the Red Sox trying to out-do the Orioles recent catastrophic attempt to hire a GM? Dale Sveum, who worked hard to fill Wendell Kim's shoes when he was in Boston, was clearly the choice of new GM (and old Hoss) Ben Cherington. Then Sveum met with ownership and, well, so much for that idea. Did Sveum waive his arm in a circle wildly, spilling duck a l'orange on John Henry's new fedora? [/cue laugh track]
The Red Sox very publicly interviewed five candidates to be their next manager. Only one was brought back for a second interview and only one got to sit for tea and crumpets with the Trio. The meeting/interview had the air of Ben introducing the new Red Sox manager to his bosses. That isn't what happened. The Trio took one (3 hour) look at Sveum and said in the most polite yet emphatic terms, no thank you. Sveum is now managing the Chicago Cubs which, due to recent events, is almost like managing the Red Sox but has the added benefit of not requiring me to remember how to spell his name.
So with Sveum out that leaves the four original candidates, minus Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin (whose name I can spell without help), the candidate we all liked. Sure, a fancy pocket square isn't the strongest reason to hire someone to manage a billion dollar franchise, but you gotta start somewhere. As fans, we aren't given the strongest level of information to judge the candidates by, and since in this instance none of them had extensive managerial experience, opinions were informed by drivel. Thus pocket squares.
In Sveum's case his drivel was his inability to accurately judge which of two objects would first reach a given point five years ago. Like I said, when there isn't much in the way of information, we'll cling to whatever we got. In a way it was a shame Sveum wasn't hired in Boston. It would have been an abject lesson in the difference between the skill sets of a third base coach and a manager. Until Sveum waived a reporter around the hallway and into the drinking fountain, anyway.
But back to the search. Of the remaining three candidates, Sandy Alomar Jr., Gene Lamont, and Torey Lovullo, not one has been contacted to schedule a second interview. That says one of three things. Either all of them simultaneously purchased new cell phones and can't figure out how to access their voicemail, the Red Sox scheduling systems consists of a napkin and a crayon, or the team isn't interested in any of them.
To recap, the new GM interviews five guys, finds one he likes, brings him backstage for a meet 'n greet with the Stones, someone notices he's wearing a Pink Floyd shirt, they call security and next thing you know, dude has a job with The Who.
Enter Bobby Valentine. According to various media reports the Red Sox ownership group has a fascination with the man who once disguised himself with pair of sunglasses and a fake mustache in order to continue managing from the dugout after being ejected. That tops a dandy pocket square in terms of a story. Oddly, the local media has held a fascination with Valentine throughout this hiring process. For some reason, the Globe's Nick Carfardo has answered Bobby Valentine to just about every question. For example, "What kind of dressing do you want on that salad?", "Was it good for you?" and "Have you accepted any baggage from any unknown persons?"
As much as I'd love to judge Valentine negatively for his time on ESPN, we know how programed that programming is. It's as much acting as putting forth an informed opinion. Valentine's managerial record is far more inspiring than that of Terry Francona before he was hired here, though is a point of evidence in support of the fact that managerial record doesn't come close to telling the whole story when it comes to a manager's performance.
While it's tempting to paint him as such, Valentine hasn't been a joke as a manager. His Achilles' heal is more the fact that he hasn't managed a major league game since 2002 with the Mets. That and listening to him on television, he doesn't present himself as the most progressive or sabermetrically astute person either. Ask him the importance of stats and you aren't likely to get a Pete Mackanin answer, or even a Dale Sveum answer. It's more likely to be something along the lines of stats are fine but misleading and heart and guts and grit and dirt win ballgames. Something that Jim Bowden would say. Or Rob Dibble.
And right after putting words in his mouth, and not complementary ones at that, I'll say this: if he is the new Sox manager or even gets a public interview, I'm going to keep an open mind. He deserves a chance to get fired before we all fire him. Valentine would not have been my choice, but then neither would Dale Sveum.