The Players v. Bobby Valentine (AKA The Palace Hotel Mutiny)

Baseball is full of stories of teams that turned on their managers. In the early 1950s, for example, the St. Louis Browns were so happy that Rogers Hornsby had been fired that they gave Bill Veeck a trophy in appreciation (whether they actually did or if it was another Veeckian publicity stunt is up for debate). But rarely have there been revolts quite as slow-motion and public as the one unfolding in Boston, which is worthy of a comedy movie, a sort of reverse-Major League in which a team of All-Stars and colorful characters goes below even lowered expectations. Oh, and instead of Lou Brown, this team is managed by Bobby Valentine.

Although this clubhouse drama has been going on all year, it has once again been burst into the forefront thanks to a report by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports that revealed that several major Red Sox players blasted Valentine during a meeting with club officials on July 26 at New York’s Palace Hotel (or maybe it was just some meetings about the overall poor performance of the club, but it seems like the accounts of it being a player revolt outnumber those accounts). This post has been created to summarize the details and provide levity to such a spectacle. Much of the information in this posting can be found in Passan’s tour de force.

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Our Cast of Characters:

Bobby Valentine: Either the protagonist or antagonist of this tale, depending on who you read/watch/listen to. Full name of Robert John Valentine. Born May 13, 1950 (also born that day: Stevie Wonder) in Stamford, Connecticut. Attended Rippowam High School and USC before being drafted by the Dodgers fifth in the 1968 draft (just behind Thurman Munson). Batted and fielded right-handed while playing SS, 2B and OF during a MLB career that spanned 10 years and five teams. Has managed Rangers, Mets and Chiba Lotte Marines and is the current manager of the Boston Red Sox. Has the distinction of having burned bridges on two continents. Son-in-law of Ralph Branca. Possible inventor of the sandwich wrap. Noted master of disguise.

Adrian GonzalezThe current first-basemen of the Boston Red Sox, and possible ring-leader of the mutiny. Sent the text that led to the meeting, when he (and others he was speaking for) complained about Valentine leaving in Jon Lester to get knocked around for 11 runs during his July 22 start. Dislikes the fact that a non-beat reporter broke the story, ignoring the fact that any beat reporter that would have broken such a story probably would have found himself with a black eye the next time he tried to get a quote in the clubhouse.

Dustin Pedroia: Code-name- Laser Show. Either one of the ring-leaders of the putsch (according to Passan) or a guy who doesn’t want Bobby Valentine fired (according to Dustin Pedroia). Reportedly circulated a photo of himself giving a thumbs-up next to a sleeping Valentine with the caption of “Our manager contemplating his lineup at 3:30 p.m.” Noted fan of Terry Francona, the former manager of the Boston Red Sox, who is now an ESPN analyst. He, Francona and other players had a 45 minute gab-session in the Red Sox clubhouse two days after meeting at the Palace Hotel in New York, a shocking breach of the unwritten rules of the clubhouse.

Ben Cherington: General Manager of the Boston Red Sox, former assistant to ex-GM Theo Epstein (now with the Cubs). May not have as much power as one would assume, as owner and team president Larry Lucchino is reportedly the true power behind the throne, at least as far as the managerial moves go.

Larry Lucchino: Team President and part-owner of the Boston Red Sox. Was apparently the real mover-and-shaker behind the hire of Bobby Valentine in the first place.

Other Red Sox players: Have reportedly split into two sides, the anti-Bobby side that wants him gone, and the pro-Bobby side (or at least the “not-Anti-Bobby” side) that believes that certain players have been trying to scapegoat Valentine to distract from their own disappointing performances.

Kevin Youkilis: Now the third baseman of the Chicago White Sox. It is widely believed that his departure from Beantown was connected with the friction that existed between him and Valentine.

Our Locations:

The Palace Hotel: The New York Palace is a luxury hotel in Midtown Manhattan, located on Madison Avenue, right across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It was also once managed by tyrannical investor and real estate mogul Leon Helmsley, best known for saying “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”

Fenway Park: The 100-year-old home of the Boston Red Sox, which only plays a role in the saga because much of Boston’s poor play this season has taken place this year.

The Possible Conclusions:

The Most Likely Outcome: This outcome involves Bobby Valentine getting fired at the end of the season barring some sort of playoff run. Then, perhaps, there will be a purge of some of the Red Sox players, such as Josh Beckett.

Offseason Massacre: In this scenario, Bobby Valentine is able to talk the powers-that-be into keeping him, and several high-profile Red Sox are traded or dumped in some other way. Unlikely, but weirder things have happened.

The Fens is Burning: In this scenario, the Red Sox, despite being at war with themselves, make it to the playoffs. The ultimate example of this scenario would be if they somehow were to win the World Series. It would be the most awkward parade ever.
Status Quo: In which the Red Sox continue more or less as they have been, keeping Valentine and more-or-less the same team. Highly unlikely to happen.

“I QUIT!”: In which Bobby Valentine resigns, either forced or unforced. Maybe he decides he wants to go back to ESPN. Maybe he just gets sick of everything. Maybe he’s visited in the middle of the night by the Ghost of Red Sox past (Johnny Pesky, may he rest in peace), present (Wally the Green Monster) and future (the son of Nomar Garciaparra and Mia Hamm, or something weird like that). Whatever the reason, it involves Valentine out of the clubhouse and some of the players breathing a sigh of relief.

The Black Swan: A black swan is an event that very few, if any, people see coming, but ultimately changes lots of things. The idea’s names comes from the fact that everybody thought that a swan couldn’t be black, until they found a species of swan that was black. The creation and wide-scale adoption of the internet, for example, was a black swan event. While it’s unlikely that there will be some earthshaking revelation or breakout player that will change the situation in the Boston clubhouse, it also is key that the possibility is not completely abandoned. In other words: expect the unexpected.

2 thoughts on “The Players v. Bobby Valentine (AKA The Palace Hotel Mutiny)

  1. Pingback: Updates on previous posts | The Baseball Continuum

  2. Pingback: The Black Swan and the Rise of the Dodgers | The Baseball Continuum

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