NEW YORK — The little firestorms around Bobby Valentine, good and bad, are amusing, if not entertaining.
In the 10th inning Sunday night, you saw the fiery Valentine getting tossed when home plate umpire Brian O’Nora actually told him he heard the ball hit Will Middlebrooks’s bat — even though Dave Robertson’s errant pitch hit him squarely in the hand on a bunt attempt.
Middlebrooks, the rookie, became Middlebrooks the man, as he laced a single to left to give the Yankees an “in-your-face” moment.
“Got back in the office just in time to see it,” said Valentine, who this time decided not to opt for his fake glasses and mustache and sneak back into the dugout.
That’s the Valentine that inspires, kicks up some dirt, and makes his presence felt. Josh Beckett followed him in his attack of the umpires and he, too, was booted, showing signs that maybe he does care.
Adrian Gonzalez was chirping from the dugout, too.
Valentine and Beckett may be strange bedfellows, but they walked off into the clubhouse and watched the Red Sox rally to a 3-2 10th-inning victory over the Yankees to take two out of three in what may have been the best of times in this trying season.
Maybe now it’s not so awful anymore.
“We’re in this together,” said Valentine when asked about Beckett getting tossed, too. “We’re trying to accomplish the same goal. We want the same thing.”
This was a together team that beat the Yankees this weekend.
Listen, there are always going to be brushfires with Valentine and there were this weekend.
The manager sometimes creates his own messes, like on Saturday when he offered the four-day play-and-rest plan for Carl Crawford to the media. Reports were floating around the last 24 hours that there was no plan.
But a team source indicated it was indeed the plan and there seemed to be a disconnect between Valentine and GM Ben Cherington, and yet another disconnect between Crawford and management over whether he needs surgery.
It sure looks like there’s a disconnect at times, but it would seem highly unlikely, what with all the medical layers that the Red Sox have, that there would not be a plan. We doubt very much that Bobby V. came up with this plan on his own, so what’s the big deal about revealing the existence of one?
There’s no doubt that Cherington was upset about Valentine speaking publicly about Crawford’s plan because Cherington did not return any texts concerning the subject.
“I talked to Carl yesterday after the game and again today,” Valentine said prior to Sunday’s game. “Like he said before the game, ‘I got it.’ And after BP he said, ‘It’s cool.’ And today he said, ‘No problem.’ I told Carl that if I do anything to confuse you and make anything more than uncomfortable to let me know. When people came to his locker to speak about why he was out of the lineup, he was uncomfortable, but he said he’s fine.”
When told that Crawford said the elbow could “blow out at any time” and that it might be prudent to perform the Tommy John surgery at any time, Valentine said, “It would give you a better understanding why the medical staff thought he should be rested periodically. It bothers him and they don’t want it to get to the point where it’s intolerable. It makes sense to me. We’re hoping it will hurt less, bother him less, and that’s why we have a prescribed program.
“I heard what Carl said [about surgery], but I’ve never been told he needed an operation. I don’t think that’s a definitive situation.’’
That seems to be one area where Valentine and Cherington agree. The GM recently said there was no definitive plan for surgery. Why does Crawford think he needs Tommy John surgery? Crawford said he heard that come from the lips of Dr. James Andrews.
If Andrews said or recommended that, shouldn’t the Red Sox know about it?
How many disconnects can there possibly be on one simple story?
While it was odd that Valentine offered his defiance of the plan in public, it seemed stranger that Cherington did not back up Valentine once he said it.
Valentine didn’t act like a guy who was trying to get himself fired, as our esteemed columnist, Dan Shaughnessy, suggested.
Valentine likes his job and believes this team will get better and better.
“I think we played very good baseball this weekend,” Valentine said. “We’re trying to win every series now. That’s the name of the game. We did it the hard way. After losing the first, we battled in two tough games. I’m proud of the guys. That was a great effort.”
By taking two out of three in New York, that may signal Cherington to make a deal as the Red Sox still appear to be within striking distance of a wild-card spot.
When asked how much he’s involved, Valentine said, “Probably as much as any manager. Our job is to deal with what we have to do when 8 o’clock starts. I think we’re all involved very little. I might hear something if he asks me a question about someone who is out there and to give an opinion. I don’t think you can be involved in both jobs.”
Valentine said he has no doubt that the organization “is in it to win all the time. The ownership and front office isn’t thinking anything but we’ve got a shot.”
While this job is probably not what Valentine signed up for, he’s finding the difference between now and when he last managed in the majors 10 years ago is “blended more than the last time I managed. Much more interaction.”
But Valentine seems to be breaking through that. Winning in New York was a big moment for his Red Sox managerial career.
This sometimes disconnected team showed unity. They showed it with the manager and the players. And that was huge.