An impassioned Bobby Valentine on Wednesday called his first season as manager of the Boston Red Sox “miserable” and lashed out when asked if he had “checked out” and when informed reporters noted that he showed up at 4:15 p.m. for a 7:10 p.m. game Friday in Oakland.
"What an embarrassing thing to say,” Valentine said during his weekly interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI when asked by host Glen Ordway whether he had “checked out.”
“If I were there right now, I'd punch you right in the mouth. Ha, ha. How's that sound? Sound like I checked out? What an embarrassing thing.
“Why would somebody even, that's stuff that a comic strip person would write. If someone's here, watching me go out at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, working with the young players, bringing in the right relief pitchers to get a win, putting on a hit and run when it’s necessary, talking to the guys after the game in the food room. How could someone in real life say that?"
In explaining his reasoning behind asking the question, Ordway noted seeing reports that Valentine arrived at the park later than usual at a game over the weekend because he was picking his son up at the airport. That set Valentine off.
"I shouldn't have to explain that,” Valentine said. “That pisses me off. Because whoever wrote that knew what happened. They knew that my son was coming to see me for the first time this lousy season that I got to see him on the road, and that his flight was late, and that I was waiting at the airport in San Francisco for his flight to come in, and I came in and sent the lineup in and reported to my coaches that I was going to be a little late. For someone to say that I was late is an absolute disgrace to their integrity if they have any."
"I wasn't late. When you call in and say that you're delayed in traffic coming from the San Francisco Airport to the stupid Oakland Coliseum and that there's a traffic jam, then you're not late, no."
In defending himself, Valentine said he thought Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon showed up the park regularly at around the time he showed up Friday.
“It’s cheap journalism, isn’t it?,” Valentine said. "Joe Maddon in his Sports Illustrated article said 'What do you think I’m gonna do go around the clubhouse and sit around in my underwear for a couple hours? I show up at 3:30 or 4 o'clock every day.’ Every day. Does that mean he’s late every day?”
Valentine’s first season in Boston has been a trying one. The team is 63-74, far out of playoff contention, and could be headed for its worst finish since 1966. Valentine’s tenure has been marked by internal discord and issues with communication at various levels internally. He has been given a vote of confidence by ownership that he will finish out the season, though he has not received such an assurance for next season. A source told ESPNBoston.com he will be evaluated at the end of the season.
Despite the discord, the 62-year-old Valentine said he does not regret returning to the manage in the majors for the first time since 2002.
“Regret returning? No, life is a journey, you guys, you have to understand,” he told WEEI. "Everyone thinks that misery is something that people run away from. I think you learn from misery. You learn from challenges, you learn from failures as well as you learn from success. So this is what I chose to do, and I think it’s been, you know, miserable, but I think it’s also been part of my life’s journey.”
Valentine said his breakfast meeting with owner John Henry on Monday in Seattle was productive (aside from the food) and insisted he was not worried about whether the team would fire him after the season.
“This is not who I am this is just what I am,” Valentine said. "I am concerned with who I am.”
He was then asked flatly whether he wanted to come back next season.
“I want to do whatever I can do to wake up every morning and do the best that I can do at whatever it is that I choose to do.”
Would he choose to manage the Sox next season?
“Of course,” Valentine answered, "if that’s what I am asked to do, that’s what I’m going to get paid to do.”