Loose lips could sink skippers Guillen and Valentine

storapse@aol.comApril 19, 2012 

This is a tale of two baseball managers who don't know when to keep their mouths shut.

Just two weeks into the season, Ozzie Guillen and Bobby Valentine have been forced to apologize for flippantly dumb and damaging comments.

Both are just starting managerial stints with new teams, the Miami Marlins and Boston Red Sox. Both have a reputation for dropping verbal bombs and, boy, are they living up to it.

Guillen, Venezuelan born, was brought in to help win over the Hispanic population in Miami, where their brand new stadium sits in Little Havana.

Then, before the first pitch of the season, Ozzie praises Fidel Castro in a Time magazine article.

"I love Castro," he said in an interview. This in a town where you can say most anything you want as long as you begin with "Fidel Castro is an SOB."

Of course, when all hell broke loose on Calle Ocho, Ozzie uttered a tearful press conference apology. Some demanded he be fired on the spot, but they had to settle for a five-game suspension.

Meanwhile, Sunday night in a Boston TV interview, Valentine said veteran third baseman Kevin Youkilis is "not as physically or mentally into the game as he has been in the past."

This did not set well with Youkilis and some of his teammates. One of them, Dustin Pedroia, a team leader, strongly defended Youk.

Asked if Valentine was trying to motivate Youkilis, who has only six hits in 34 times at bat, Pedroia said: "Maybe that works in Japan or something, but over here in the U.S. we've got each other's backs and play together."

Of course, Valentine's apology was accepted by all involved. Maybe.

At any rate, this incident has set off all kinds of speculation and questions:

  • How much trust has Valentine lost in the Red Sox clubhouse?

  • Was Youkilis the "snitch" that pitcher Josh Beckett has complained about leaking damning information regarding drinking beer during games last season in the clubhouse? And if so, is that the reason Valentine felt comfortable in criticizing Youk?

  • Is Pedroia, who was very close to former manager Terry Francona -- who was fired after the Red Sox's collapse last season -- holding a grudge?

  • And what about new general manager Ben Cherington, whose top choice for manager to replace Francona was new Cubs manager Dale Sveum, not Valentine? Cherington has offered lukewarm support for Valentine in the ongoing controversy.

    Valentine was brought in by upper management to restore order to a team that collapsed under Francona last September. Bobby V is the antithesis of Tito as a manager.

    While Francona never criticized his players in public, Valentine has a reputation for doing just that. While Francona ran a country club-style spring training with lots of free time for his players, Valentine worked the Red Sox long and hard, emphasizing fundamentals this spring.

    In the end, babying players was seen as at least part of the reason Francona was fired.

    So where do Guillen and Valentine go from here?

    Ozzie seems to have survived the protesters. Tuesday night there was only one lone sign-carrying dissenter outside the Marlins Stadium when Guillen was reinstated as manager. And the Marlins beat the Cubs. Winning always helps.

    It appears Valentine has a much bumpier road ahead. He heard a lot of boos Tuesday night as the Red Sox lost to Texas, 18-3, and Youkilis struck out four times.

    Just maybe Valentine is right about Youkilis losing focus. But he is so wrong in the way he handled the problem, it may cost him his job.

    Meanwhile, the Evil New York Yankees are coming to town Friday as the Red Sox celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. Some might see a correlation with the recent 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

    Not me, of course.

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