Hate Bobby but blame players

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Hate Bobby but blame players

Wow.

So I just finished Gordon Edes new anthology The Best American Bobby Valentine Rip Jobs and apparently the atmosphere over at Fenway is about as gross and dysfunctional as we all imagined. Coaches. Players. Physicians. The General Manager. Everyone has issues with Valentine. I mean, you wouldnt believe some of the stories coming out of the clubhouse.

Did you know that bench coach Tim Bogar is at his wits end over Bobby V. leaving the toilet seat up on the team charters? Or that Dustin Pedroia cant stand the way his manager uses a hard T in words like often and mature? Or how about the fact that David Ortiz was recently overheard lamenting to another team employee: Oh my God. Have you seen Bobby V. eat corn on the cob? Dios mio. Take a breath, man.

Of course, its at least a little suspect that Valentine's biggest and most vocal detractors are all founding members of the Terry Francona Fan Club. And is it any shock that the anti-Valentine crew has taken to voicing their displeasure to Ben Cherington, aka the GM who never wanted to hire Bobby V. in the first place? Of course not. I can see it now: Pedroia, Bogar, Cherington and (before he was traded) Youk, sitting up in the GM's office bitching like the girls from Sex in the City: "Ugh. He's so annoying!"

Yeah, so as fun and engaging as it is to sort through the Red Sox dirty laundry, we have to consider where it's coming from. And while we're doing that, here's something for Valentine's in-house haters to consider.

No one cares.

No one cares if you don't like your manager. No one cares if hes not as nice as the guy you had before (and treated like a steamy pile of crap). No one cares if he drops a "heads up" before giving you a day off. Or if he, God forbid, changes your spot in the lineup in the midst of one of the most injury-ridden few months in recent Red Sox history. No one cares if you're offended by what he says to the media or even how he says it.

All we care about is winning. And if you don't win, that's not going to fall on the manager.

Well, it might fall on the manager. If the Sox don't make the playoffs, it's reasonable to expect Valentine to lose his job. But my point is that 2012 won't be remembered as the year Bobby Valentine brought down the Red Sox. Those who hated him from the beginning will continue to hate him. Those who supported him at the beginning will continue to say that he never got a fair shot. That he was set up to fail. But either way, he won't be the story.

Nope. If the Red Sox go belly-up again this season, the story will be the players. The proud owners of a streak of four straight seasons without a postseason win. Who will have run not one, but two managers out of town, and still think it's someone else who has the problem. The story will be about the GM, who put petty personal differences before the good of the team. The story will be about exceedingly idiotic owners who don't know their ass from their elbow and have completely lost control of the franchise.

Sure, Valentine might be out of job. But he'll land on his feet. He'll run back to TV or Japan or go make another movie in the Dominican. He'll make a nice scapegoat, but when he leaves, he won't take the Red Sox problems with him. And his departure won't leave anyone in that organization any less accountable.

So enough with the bitching. Just win some damn games.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Three Things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

1) It only seems like David Ortiz can come through every time.

When Ortiz comes to the plate as he did Friday night -- bases loaded, no out, bottom of the ninth, Red Sox trailing by a run -- it seems like a win is a fait accompli.

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one might have a chance to be ended right there,'' said John Farrell. "He's been so big for us that everybody in the dugout felt the same way -- confident that the stage was set for him to come through with another dramatic moment.''

Instead, Ortiz rolled over a ground ball to second, and with the Twins infield drawn in, it was enough to turn a 4-2-3 double play that took the starch out of the inning for the Sox.

If anything, though, the inning revealed how remarkable Ortiz has been so often. It's not easy to come through even most times, and it's certainly far from automatic.

"The pitcher (closer Brandon Kintzler) made good pitches,'' said Ortiz. "That's the name of the game. I'm always looking forward to something happening. It just doesn't work out all the time.''

2) Eduardo Rodriguez has his slider back.

When Rodriguez endured a rough stretch in late May and June, he seemed to all but abandon his slider, relying almost exclusively on his two-seam fastball and changeup.

But since returning from a stint in Pawtucket, Rodriguez has flashed the slider that made him so effective as a rookie last season.

"Since he's come back,'' said Farrell, "he's added much more depth. He's able to get to the back foot of some righthanders for some swing-and-miss. He was on the plate with three quality pitches for strikes tonight.''

"I feel like I can locate it better, where I want it,'' confirmed Rodriguez. "Outside, inside corner...I'm getting more confident in it. I think I got out of my mind the tipping (pitches) stuff and all that stuff and I'm just working to throw the ball right where I want it.''

It's almost impossible for a starter in the big leagues to survive with just two pitches, as Rodriguez was attempting to do earlier this season. And it seems foolish to even try, given that Rodriguez's slider can be a plus-pitch for him at times.

3) If Mookie Betts has to miss some time, the Red Sox have options in right field.

Farrell said Betts has been dealing with soreness and stiffness in his right knee since after the All-Star break and has been undergoing treatment.

There's no evidence that this is serious, and he's considered day-to-day. But even if Betts needs some time off, or in a worse-case scenario, has to go on the DL, the Sox can do some things with their outfield.

Michael Martinez's best outfield position is right, as he demonstrated Friday night after taking over for Betts in the top of the fifth. Martinez ran a long way to grab a ball in foul territory for the final out in the sixth, then turned in a fine, tumbling catch in the eighth to take extra bases away from Adam Grossman.

Bryce Brentz, who's been in a platoon of sorts in left with Brock Holt, has played a lot of right field in the minors and has the arm strength to play there.

Finally, there's the matter of Andrew Benintendi. The Sox raised some eyebrows with the news that they were having Benintendi move over to left field at Double A Portland, perhaps in anticipation of playing the position for Boston at some point later this year.

Benintendi is a natural center fielder and even though he doesn't much experience in right, if you're athletic enough to play center, you can usually move to either corner spot.

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

QUOTES:

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one had a chance to be ended right there.'' - John Farrell on David Ortiz's at-bat with no out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning.

"I feel like I can locate it better - outside, inside corner -- so it's given me more confidence.'' - Eduardo Rodriguez on the improvement with his slider.

"I always look forward to something (good) happening; it just doesn't work out all the time.'' - David Ortiz on his ninth-inning at-bat.

NOTES:

* The Red Sox saw a seven-game winning streak at Fenway -- their longest of the season -- snapped.

* Boston has homered in 13 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox bullpen has posted a 1.17 ERA since July 6.

* Mookie Betts became the first Red Sox hitter to hit 20 homers in a season before he turns 24 since Nomar Garciaparra.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 30 straight games.

* The eight strikeouts posted by Eduardo Rodriguez were a season high and one shy of his career high.

* The loss was only the 15th this season in games in which the Red Sox score first.

* Rodriguez has not allowed an opposing baserunner to steal a base since July 5, 2015.

STARS:

1) Kyle Gibson

Don't let the 5.12 ERA he had coming in fool you. Gibson worked out a little jam in the first, then completely shut the Red Sox down the rest of the way, allowing just one hit and one walk after the first.

2) Brian Dozier

Dozier homered in the second to tie the game, singled in the fourth, walked in the sixth and singled again in the eighth -- reaching base in all four plate appearances.

3) Miguel Sano

Sano invited trouble when he dropped a routine pop-up to allow the Red Sox to put the potential tying run on base in the eighth. But he had three base hits on the night, including a run-scoring double that put the Twins ahead to stay in the sixth.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam