The Boston Red Sox thought Bobby Valentine would restore order to a coddled clubhouse that disintegrated during the 2011 pennant race.
Instead, he only caused more problems.
The brash and supremely confident manager was fired on Thursday, the day after the finale of a season beset with internal sniping and far too many losses. Valentine went 69-93 in his only year in Boston, the ballclub’s worst season in almost 50 years.
“I understand this decision,” Valentine said. “This year in Boston has been an incredible experience for me, but I am as disappointed in the results as are ownership and the great fans of Red Sox Nation. … I’m sure next year will be a turnaround year.”
A baseball savant who won the N.L. pennant with the New York Mets and won it all in Japan, Valentine was brought in after two-time World Series champion Terry Francona lost control of the clubhouse during an unprecedented September collapse. But the players who took advantage of Francona’s hands-off approach bristled under Valentine’s abrasive style.
Under Valentine, the Red Sox started 4-10 and didn’t break .500 until after Memorial Day. By August, when the contenders were setting their playoff roster, the Red Sox knew they would not be among them and they traded some of their best players – and biggest salaries. They will save $250 million in future salaries and have a chance to rebuild over the winter.
“Our 2012 season was disappointing for many reasons,” general manager Ben Cherington said in a statement announcing the firing. “No single issue is the reason, and no single individual is to blame. … With an historic number of injuries, Bobby was dealt a difficult hand. He did the best he could under seriously adverse circumstances, and I am thankful to him.”
Braves hope Medlen can extend streak in wild card
The Atlanta Braves never seem to lose when Kris Medlen is their starting pitcher.
The Braves have won 23 consecutive games started by Medlen – a modern big league record. Today, he’ll go in the inaugural wild-card playoff against the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, who will counter with 16-game winner Kyle Lohse.
Rangers in unexpected spot vs. O’s in wild card
After a grinding stretch when the Texas Rangers lost nine of their last 13 games, and the A.L. West crown in the process, manager Ron Washington gave his players the day off Thursday.
The Rangers are home tonight against Baltimore and former manager Buck Showalter in the winner-take-all wild -card game.
Right-hander Yu Darvish makes his major league postseason debut for Texas against the only A.L. team he didn’t face in his rookie season.
Lefty Joe Saunders, a late-season acquisition by Baltimore, has lost all six of his previous starts at Rangers Ballpark with a 9.38 ERA.
Clearing the bases
Major League Baseball’s average attendance rose 1.8 percent this year to its highest level since 2008. … Sandy Alomar Jr. interviewed to become the Indians’ next full-time manager. … Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez won the 2012 Warren Spahn Award in a tiebreaker over Tampa Bay’s David Price. The award is given to the top left-handed pitcher.