Bobby Valentine offers something Tito Francona could not: media cover. Valentine is a media magnet, because he can be counted on to say something newsworthy every few days. Francona constantly declared there was no story in this or nothing to that story, so he did not give the media what they needed: something new. Valentine will generate news when he wants to, and in this way he will help Carl Crawford.
Today he said Crawford will probably not play Opening Day. Crawford may still play, but the pressure is off. He doesn’t have to prove anything, because the manager said he wasn’t expecting anything. That may not be very newsworthy, but it will mean a lot to Carl Crawford. Now when reporters pump Valentine it will be about who will play left field Opening Day, not Will Carl Crawford be ready?
This is probably an unfair comparison to make with Francona. He wasn’t interested in the media, and he never wanted to be the story. That worked for a number of years. Now the Red Sox are under media surveillance most will compare to New York. It’s an enervating glare, and it probably got to Crawford last year. Probably got to a number of starting players on the Red Sox. They needed a shield, someone to deflect the bright lights.
This is where Valentine is an improvement. He’s worked the New York media, and he’s worked for ESPN. He is equipped to glare back into the camera or the persistent beat reporters and give them what they need or send them packing. That’s a gift few managers bring to their jobs, but a gift that will soon be a qualification in the Major Leagues.
Professional ballplayers may be entertainers, but that is not what they are trained to be. Some of them bring charisma to their job, but no one gets a multi-million dollar contract just for charisma. It may a nice bargaining point, but it won’t get you into the starting line-up.
More is expected from managers, and Bobby Valentine is up to the job. For that, Carl Crawford can give thanks.