SALEM Bobby Valentine appeared relaxed, comfortable, and animated. He was effusive, engaging, and loquacious. It was a version of Valentine that Red Sox fans rarely got to see this past season. I didn't get a chance to rattle on during the season because they wanted a quieter, calmer version of Bobby Valentine, Valentine said, wrapping up after almost 90 minutes Thursday night as part of Salem State Universitys speakers series. Valentine entertained the crowd of about 800 with stories from his life in baseball, including his one year as the manager of the Red Sox before he was fired on Oct. 4, the day after the season ended with the Sox in last place in the American League East, their record of 69-83 the worst since 1966. Hes confident the last year will lead to better things for him. Something really good is going to happen in my life because of the experience I had this season, he said. People say, Oh, yeah, you had 69 good days. But there were more. Since then, he said hes been doing greatI have a million plans, running around the country, trying to make my life worthwhile. Although he did not get into specifics about what is next for him professionally, Valentine, who has always been very involved in charitable works, is planning to help with the relief efforts in New York and New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In December, he will rappel down the side of the tallest building in his hometown of Stamford, Conn., as a charitable fundraiser. He will be dressed as an elf. Along with himself, Valentine said he thought the 2013 Red Sox team would be better because of all the adversity the 2012 edition faced, as long it can stay healthy. I think the team is going to be better because of all the nonsense this year, Valentine said. That group of guys shouldnt be defined by their record because there were some great efforts. Valentine spoke from a stage inside the OKeefe Sports Center. He was accompanied by Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons, acting as the interviewer. After about an hour, Valentine took some questions from the audience. Valentine offered no major insights or answers on the disastrous season, saying Im one of those guys I dont look back. I dont do rewind Ive moved on where I wake up in the morning and I think its going to be the best day of my life. Things didnt go the way I wanted, no doubt about it. They didnt go the way you wanted, but every day I gave my best damn effort. Valentine also offered some thinly veiled jabs. About his successor, John Farrell, he said: I dont know him from Adam. Everyone tells me hes a good guy, gets along with the media and the front office. Thats a good start. No doubt a reference to his strained relations with the front office. He also said: I had a back-up catcher, I wont say who, he always wanted to know when he was going to play. Once a week. Be ready to play. That would be Kelly Shoppach, who was traded to the Mets in August for right-hander Pedro Beato. About the communication snafus that happened throughout the season, Valentine said its not always necessary for everyone to know everything, including himself. But, "attitude filters down. Information doesnt always have to. A questioner from the audience began to ask what it was like watching Daniel Bard slowly implode. Valentine quickly interjected, You thought that was slow? The quip drew laughter from the crowd, as did many of his stories. But Valentine also said I think Bard will be alright next year, though. He praised coaches Randy Niemann, and Jerry Royster, for his work with third baseman Will Middlebrooks and shortstop Mike Aviles, and former hitting coach Dave Magadan, whom he said will leave a big void with his departure to Texas. Valentine said he did not support the decision to fire pitching coach Bob McClure. Without singling out anyone in particular, he said, you need coaches who speak your own language. Valentine wrapped up his talk, saying If you really want to be successful, there are three Rs of success: Responsibility, respect, and reality We have to be responsible to each other and our society, we have to respect one another, and we got to deal with reality. Change is not something anyone likes, but it is time to change. With that, he wrapped up his session.
It was only 24 hours earlier that the Boston Celtics learned a valuable lesson about what can potentially happen if you let up on an opponent too soon.
The Chicago Bulls made the same mistake on Thursday as the Celtics wiped out a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter and made it a one-possession game for the last couple of minutes.
But like Boston did against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night, the Bulls managed to fend off a late rally by Boston in handing the Celtics a 105-99 loss.
Boston had multiple opportunities to tie the game or take the lead in the fourth, only to consistently come up short.
Their last shot came with less than a minute to play and Boston trailing 101-99.
Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown had the ball and seemingly had a mismatch with Nikola Mirotic guarding him.
Brown dribbled into the lane, spun away from Mirotic and left his feet and landed without anyone to pass to.
It would prove to be a critical turnover as Dwyane Wade came down afterwards and drained a 3-pointer, his fourth of the night, to make it a 104-99 game with 26.3 seconds to play.
That would be the Celtics’ last chance at a victory.
The Celtics trailed by as many as 15 points, but made it a game courtesy of a slew of baskets by Isaiah Thomas.
He finished with 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting.
As well as Thomas shot from the field, he’ll most remember this game for the shots he didn’t make; his free throws specifically.
A career 86 percent free throw shooter, Thomas was just 2-for-6 from the line on Thursday.
Boston (1-1) also got a strong game from Avery Bradley who had 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.
The Bulls, playing their season opener with a newly-formed Big Three of prodigal son Dwyane Wade, ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo and All-Star Jimmy Butler, didn’t waste any time establishing control of the game.
Chicago opened the game with an 8-2 run and led by as many as 15 points. Boston had moments in which it cut into Chicago’s lead, but the Bulls’ control of the game remained strong throughout the night.
Things got a bit chippy in the second quarter when Jae Crowder was called for an offensive foul against Jimmy Butler, a good friend of his as well as a former teammate at Marquette.
After Butler hit the ground, he used his legs to tie up Crowder who fell to the floor afterwards. Crowder then forcefully put the ball in Butler’s chest.
That led to some back and forth trash talk between Isaiah Thomas and ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo.
Officials reviewed the play and called all four players – Crowder, Thomas, Butler and Rondo – were called for a technical foul.
Tempers cooled down afterwards for both teams as the Chicago Bulls continued to stay red-hot from 3-point range.
The Bulls were especially impressive in the first half when they were 7-for-13 on 3s.
And leading the 3-point barrage was Wade who rarely looked to score beyond the 3-point line a year ago. He would finish with 22 points which included a trio of 4-pointers which was the first time he made that many 3s since the 2012-2013 season when he played for the Miami Heat.
Chicago’s top scorer was Butler who had 24 points and seven rebounds.
Minutes before they opened their regular season Thursday against the Celtics, the Bulls announced the signing of shooting guard R.J. Hunter.