Red Sox Rhapsody: Bobby Valentine vs. Rogers Hornsby, Plus Assorted Other Mutterings Of A Distracted Mind

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 15: Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine reacts after being thrown out of the game by home plate umpire Mike Everitt during the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 15, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Bobby Valentine may be an abrasive personality who sometimes vents his spleen, but as far as we know he has kept the contents of his bladder to himself.

  • If these were New Deal days, the government would put the unemployed to work by paying them to attend Rays games.
  • There is no truth to the rumor that the market cap for Melky Cabrera’s fake-supplement website is now higher than that of Facebook … yet. Being older than Melky, Bartolo Colon doesn’t have a web site, but there is a bulletin board on Prodigy.
  • Heard New York Daily News writer Bill Madden talking to the great Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette on SiriusXM yesterday. Madden compared the clubhouse rebellion Bobby Valentine is facing in Boston with one of several endured by Rogers Hornsby during his 15-year major-league managing career. Hornsby and Valentine have a propensity for the biting comment -- Hornsby was once characterized as "frank to the point of being cruel and as subtle as a belch," but there are limits: Hornsby once justified punching Phillies manager Art Fletcher in the face during an argument at home plate by saying, "I couldn’t make any headway against him talking," and once expressed displeasure with one of his player’s performances by joining him in the shower and urinating on his leg. Pretty sure Bobby hasn’t tried that yet.
  • Hornsby did have one interesting rule as a manager that I think about sometimes: If a pitcher got ahead in the count 0-2, the next offering had to be a knockdown pitch. Failure to do that meant a fine. In the old days, there was a great stigma against giving up a hit on an 0-2 pitch, and it makes sense given that the pitcher is in the catbird seat. This year, major-league hitters are averaging .148 when putting an 0-2 pitch in play. The idea was that the pitcher should press his advantage by intimidating the batter. On the other hand, pitching is about unpredictability, and if a batter knows that the 0-2 pitch is going to be a ball, even a physically threatening one, what is the use of that? Note that major leaguers are hitting .164 when swinging on a 1-2 count, so there is a negative repercussion for the pitcher in wasting that pitch. The only thing to debate is, if a pitcher is going to waste the 0-2 pitch as a matter of course -- it’s still common practice -- is there any extra value in making it high and tight?
  • Back to the Red Sox: With a 59-64 record, including 6-13 in August, it seems likely that Boston will finish under .500 for the first time in 15 years. The Red Sox went 78-84 in 1997, about what they’re on pace for now. The manager then was Jimy Williams, who had a little bit in common with Valentine in that he was in his first season as Red Sox manager after a long layoff; Williams had been canned by the Blue Jays partway through the 1989 season, his fourth as Bobby Cox’s successor. He had spent the eight years since coaching. Williams got to stick around in Boston for another three seasons and change, delivering a couple of 90-plus-win seasons. Williams wasn’t necessarily a great manager, but it must have been understood at the time that regardless of his skills, a starting rotation of Tim Wakefield, Tom Gordon, Aaron Sele, Jeff Suppan and Steve Avery, and a bullpen headed up by Heathcliff Slocumb was not a fair test of his abilities. Red Sox starters had an aggregate ERA of 4.95 in a 4.75 ERA league. Valentine’s starters have a 4.82 ERA in a 4.42 league. At that point, even peeing on your players isn’t going to help.
  • I’ve seen some mention of the BravesCraig Kimbrel as a National League Cy Young Award candidate. Kimbrel has thrown 45 innings. Johnny Cueto has thrown 169.2. When 45 > 169.2, you let me know.



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