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

Irving takes over in third quarter, Cavs beat Celtics in Game 4, 112-99

Irving takes over in third quarter, Cavs beat Celtics in Game 4, 112-99

CLEVELAND – They had them right where they wanted them.

LeBron James was in foul trouble.

Kyrie Irving had not yet heated up, and the lead hovered above double figures but seemed oh-so-close to creeping upwards of 20 points if the Celtics did a better job of making open shots in the first half.

Those missed shots, combined with a Kyrie Irving takeover in the third quarter, would prove to be part of the narrative for Game 4 – missed opportunities - as the Cavs rallied for a 112-99 Game 4 win.

Cleveland now leads the best-of-seven series 3-1, with a chance to eliminate the Celtics in Boston on Thursday and advance to the NBA Finals where a well-rested Golden State team will be awaiting them.

Irving led all scorers with a playoff career-high 42 points, 21 of which came in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Boston’s Avery Bradley had 19 points while Jae Crowder (18 points), Al Horford (16), and Kelly Olynyk (15) also finished with double figures scoring.

"He put the team on his back," said Tristan Thompson, regarding Irving's play. "He still has another gear."

Boston spent all of the fourth quarter playing from behind, failing to get that necessary made shot or defensive turnover or stop that they needed to slow down Cleveland’s growing momentum.

And with Irving making a slew of clutch baskets that put Cleveland in control, it was James’ turn to put the game away.

He did just that, finishing with 34 points which included 15 in the fourth quarter.

But for a good chunk of Tuesday’s Game 4 matchup, it looked as though the Celtics were coming back to Boston for Game 5 with the series tied up.

It was an odd game for sure, with nothing being any stranger than LeBron James being whistled for not one, not two, not three, but four personal fouls … in the first half.

The fourth came when he was whistled for an offensive foul against Terry Rozier with 6:46 to play and Boston ahead by 10 points.

With James on the bench, Cleveland managed to play Boston to a standstill as the half ended with the Celtics still leading by 10 points (57-47).

Cleveland slowly crept back in the game in the third, and eventually went ahead 73-72 following a pair of free throws by James with 3:15 to play in the quarter.

The Cavs were able to lead by as many as five points in the third quarter which ended with Cleveland ahead 87-80 as Irving scored the last 14 points for Cleveland which included a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that would be the final points scored in the quarter.

Cleveland’s strong finish to the third was a striking contrast to how the game began.

Boston got off to its best start in this series after a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder put the Celtics ahead 18-11.

The Celtics went ahead 22-13 after a pair of free throws by Jonas Jerebko and would eventually lead by as many as 16 points.

Meanwhile, James – the man Crowder was defending most of the time early on – had six points in the first quarter on 3-for-7 shooting.

Bogaerts has three hits, three RBIs as Red Sox beat Rangers, 11-6

Bogaerts has three hits, three RBIs as Red Sox beat Rangers, 11-6

BOSTON - Xander Bogaerts had three hits and three RBIs, Dustin Pedroia had a two-run double during a four-run seventh inning and the Boston Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers 11-6 on Tuesday night.

Rick Porcello (3-5) won for just the second time at home despite allowing 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner struck out four and allowed five runs, four earned.

Joey Gallo got his 14th homer for Texas, and Shin-Soo Choo went 2 for 5 with two RBIs.

Texas entered having won 11 of 12. The 11 runs allowed marked a season high.

Andrew Cashner (1-4) pitched five innings, allowing five runs, six hits and four walks. He also threw a pair of wild pitches, one of them allowing Bogaerts to score from third and put Boston up 2-1 after three.