Les Miserables of Boston baseball are back from what was by any measure a disastrous nine-game West Coast trip — one on which they made more noise on the radio than they did with their bats. They open up a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on Friday.
It’s entirely possible that by the conclusion of the series the Sox will be inhabiting the basement of the American League East. But that won’t be the low-water mark of this September. Nope, that came Wednesday afternoon, when manager Bobby Valentine took to the radio airwaves and took on his critics — and WEEI cohosts Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley — in a bizarre and epic philippic that included fighting words, literally.
The cringe-inducing interview, which included Valentine calling his first season managing the Red Sox “miserable,” was most notable for him responding to Ordway’s question about whether he was punching the clock with the same dedication these days by sardonically offering that he should punch Ordway in the face. It was the type of pluck and fight you wish Valentine had instilled in his team, losers of eight of their last nine and 13 of 17.
The road trip to nowhere and the contentious radio interview proved that Valentine and the Red Sox are bringing out the worst in each other now. The sooner they end their mutually destructive relationship, the better. The longer this goes, the more awkward and unbecoming it becomes for all involved. Riding out the final 24 games isn’t proving anything except that both sides are willing to spite themselves to spite (in Larry Lucchino’s words) the “cynical, jaded media.”
Both management and the manager are displaying Josh Beckett-like obstinacy in not simply severing ties. Valentine is too proud to quit. The Sox don’t want to backtrack on their public edict that Valentine will finish 2013, so we get a team running on a treadmill of dysfunction.
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