Trying to change the face of their organization, the Boston Red Sox recently hired perceived industry outsider Bobby Valentine to be their skipper for 2012. The former big leaguer made his managerial debut in 1985 with the Texas Rangers, but after his attitude could not match his win count, managing partner George W. Bush fired him in 1992. He managed in Japan before being given another chance in the majors with the New York Mets for the last 31 games of the 1996 season. He lasted there until 2002 before being fired again, this time after he slammed his organization and gave insider details about Mets players while speaking at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
He was forced to coach in Japan again where he supposedly learned to manage his anger and become a more humble person, according to the documentary “The Zen Of Bobby V.” Then again, the documentary was produced and created by Valentine’s employer, ESPN, where he’s been broadcasting Sunday Night Baseball games. Baseball enthusiasts cast the documentary off as an ESPN attempt at making Bobby Valentine more palatable to viewers.
There have been 85 MLB managerial openings since Valentine lost his job with the Mets in ’02 and he has been passed on every single time. The Red Sox seem to believe he has changed, but they may not have looked into his performance in his last managerial position before making their decision, because as Dave Zirin and Mike Elk note in an article for The Nation, his record as Director of Public Safety in Stamford, Connecticut shows he hasn’t changed at all.
Appointed by Republican Mayor Mike Pavia who was looking for a “good manager.” (**Authors note: any true baseball fan can tell you Valentine is erroneously labeled a good manager. His career stat line includes a managerial record of 1,117 wins to 1,072 losses which is barely above .500). His only qualifications were his experience as owner of Bobby Valentine’s Sports Gallery Café in his hometown of Stamford where he claimed to “invent” the sandwich wrap. The Wall Street Journal questions the authenticity of this bold claim, though. As for worker-boss relations, Valentine allowed the weight of budget decisions to fall on the backs of city workers during his Stamford stint, according to Elk and Zirin:
Stamford, located in Fairfield County,is the richest county in America where many Wall Street executives live, but this didn’t stop Valentine from pulling a Wisconsin style attack on Stamford’s public sector workers.
Currently, the city of Stamford is demanding 65 different concessions from its public safety workers including a wage cut of $1.20 an hour from public workers, cuts in overtime pay, workers having to pay higher costs for their health care, the elimination of pensions for new hires, and the right to privatize any public service. United Electric Workers Union Northeast President is Peter Knowlton, whose union represents public workers in Stamford, claims that the city of Stamford has engaged in illegal bargaining by presenting ten regressive concession demands after bargaining had concluded and the contract was sent to arbitration. The union has filed unfair labor practices charges with a trial scheduled for January 26th in front of Connecticut State Board of Labor. Knowlton said, “Hopefully, Bobby Valentine has a better record for the Boston Red Sox than he has for the public safety workers of Stamford, where he has been part of a team that has pushed massive concessions on worker, violated labor law, and was MIA during Hurricane Irene.”
“This is the ultimate 1% percenter town, this is where a lot of Wall Street bankers live” says Jeff Dinnan an auto mechanic for the city’s police department who is President of UE Local 2222 sublocal 82. “Stamford doesn’t have a revenue problem. Stamford is doing very well.”
What’s worse, Valentine played the role of absentee mayor during disaster relief:
In addition to pushing for massive concession, public safety workers in Stamford say that Valentine was completely missing during the largest natural disaster in Stamford’s history – Hurricane Irene. Hurricane Irene left 60 people sleeping in a High School gym, causing millions in damages. Where was Valentine? He was in Texas that weekend broadcasting a game for Sunday Night Baseball. “Here we are responding to this huge situation and the guy is off in Texas broadcasting a baseball game, it just really said something about his priorities” says Dinnan.
Valentine decided to shake hands and smile while allowing Republicans to implement a radical agenda on his watch, much of it done under his name. After all, ” target=”_blank”>Valentine doesn’t have much of a reputation to protect:
“You love him, or hate him; there’s precious little in-between. He’s unafraid to say what’s on his mind, and doesn’t particularly care what you think of his opinion.” Valentine is that charming type-A personality well-known in coaching circles: the people person who hates people.
This dyed-in-the-wool Republican acts a lot like many other Righties currently in power: without regard for the consequences of their actions (or inactions). He simply does what he has to do to project an image of success. Success, however, is not Valentine’s strong suit. He is a mediocre manager and a lousy bureaucrat. Still, if he did truly invent the sandwich wrap we as a nation might have to give him a pass when he ultimately fails with the aging Red Sox because air travel just wouldn’t be the same without some old, cold Cajun chicken tucked inside a flour tortilla.