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Red Sox Need More Than Bobby V Has To Give

Main Street Connect sports reporter and lifelong Boston Red Sox fan Eric Gendron cheers as Stamford native Bobby Valentine is hired as the 45th manager in the team’s history.

After watching his introductory press conference , I decided that Bobby Valentine is a surprisingly perfect choice for the next manager of the Boston Red Sox. But it might not matter who the Red Sox chose.

Stamford’s favorite son looked downright delighted when he donned his new uniform Thursday evening in Boston. As a diehard Red Sox fan, that soothed just about all the nerves I had about his taking over.

After a humdrum first five months of the 2011 season and a nightmare September, the infectious enthusiasm Bobby V displayed will provide a breath of fresh air at Fenway Park. Valentine’s personality goes totally against the grain of the personnel brought on in recent seasons by the Sox ownership.

But the problems in Boston go way beyond whether Valentine is a disciplinarian manager or a media-hating manager or a front office-fighting manager or whatever other label is thrown on him. The problems stem from how the ownership dealt with the Red Sox’ historic September collapse and the fissures in the team that were revealed during that stretch.

It was childish and unprofessional how the fallout from the downfall of the Sox was handled. Terry Francona, arguably the most successful manager in team history, was thrown under the bus faster than Jacoby Ellsbury stealing a base. The allegations written in newspaper articles about painkillers and extramarital affairs from unnamed sources were a smear campaign at the basest level.

The domino effect was almost immediate and equally gut wrenching. General Manager Theo Epstein, the boy wonder who constructed the championship teams of 2004 and 2007, hit the road for Chicago. Frat boy closer Jonathan Papelbon was in a Phillies uniform before even listening to an offer from the Red Sox.

And that doesn't even scratch the surface of looming power struggles between the ownership and new General Manager Ben Cherington. Valentine was not even on Cherington's original list for managerial candidates, suggesting some disagreement (a topic Cherington deftly danced around when asked).

The Red Sox have put themselves in a deep, dark hole. And Valentine can't pull them out, nor can anyone else. Once Francona was shown the door and Epstein bolted, it became clear Boston is a troubled team that will likely fall woefully short again despite the vast talent on its roster.

But enough doom and gloom about the team. Let’s talk about Bobby V in the Red Sox dugout wearing the colors of “The Nation.” If Yankee fans hated him when he was manager of the Mets, it will be worse now. And that's always a bonus for Sox fans.

Red Sox Nation boasts some of the most passionate fans in sports. It will be fun to have a leader who shares an obvious and equal love for the game. The fans, the media and the manager might end up yelling at each other, but I think we'll have a blast doing it.

One thing is for sure: The 2012 season is going to be as entertaining as any in recent memory. Whether it translates into postseason success seems unlikely. Either way, I’m making plans to be at Bobby V’s restaurant in Stamford for that first Red Sox-Yankees game April 20.

Follow Eric Gendron on Twitter for the latest Main Street Connect coverage of Fairfield County sports.

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