BOSTON After one season that ranged from uncomfortable to disastrous, the Red Sox fired manager Bobby Valentine Thursday afternoon. The axing came less than 24 hours after the Sox were pummeled, 14-2, in the season finale at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night. The loss completed their 69-93 season, finishing in last place in the American League East for the first time since 1992, when they had four more wins and there were seven teams in the division.It was the most losses the team suffered since losing 96 of 155 games in 1928. At .426, it was their lowest winning percentage since .423 in 1933. It was their fewest wins since the 1954 team also lost 69 (youd have to go back to 1943 for a team with fewer, 68).Now, after being one of the most successful franchises of the previous decade, the Red Sox will hire their third manager in as many years.Valentine, the 45th manager in team history, lasted less than a year, hired on Dec. 1, 2011. But he had not managed since 2002 when the Red Sox enticed him from the ESPN broadcasting booth. His tenure, though, was marked by many missteps along the way, from targeting players for reprimand during drills in spring training, drawing the consternation of other players, to saying the teams recent roster was the "weakest roster we've ever had in September in the history of baseball,'' drawing the ire of the front office.But Valentine is not the only one responsible for the failed season. Injuries, poor performances, thin rosters, a team coming of an historic collapse in September 2011, plagued by a clubhouse culture of entitlement and arrogance, and other issues all played a part.Red Sox presidentCEO Larry Lucchino and general manager Ben Cherington met with reporters Thursday afternoon and evening in a series of small interviews.The decision crystallized in the last few days, Lucchino said. We all knew that there was a right-after-the-season deadline that we had committed to ourselves and publicly. And so we went a good bit of time without a lot of internal discussion and debate. Occasionally, wed have it, but not a lot because we all valued the respite, frankly, from the intensity of the chatter. In late July or early August we made clear that we were going to deal with it at the end of the season.Valentine was told at a breakfast meeting Thursday morning at Lucchinos home, at which principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, and Cherington were also present.Looking back, it is easy to say that Valentine was not the right hire. But he had 15 years of prior managerial experience and came with a resume and a reputation. He was viewed as a very different type of person and manager than Terry Francona, whom he replaced. Given the right set of circumstances, perhaps it could have been successful, but it became clear the 2012 season was far from having the right set of circumstances.I think we felt it was the right hire, the right man, at the right time given the analysis we made of the historic September collapse, Lucchino said. And none of us is afraid of doing things that is out of the ordinary or out of the box. I think baseball in general has a history of relatively conservative practices. The preservation of Fenway Park was a bit out of the box given the attitudes that were prevailing at the time. So we are not uncomfortable with doing things out of the box. But we didnt do it for that reason. We did it because we thought his experience, intelligence, energy, drive was what we needed for the team at the end of last year.Was it a mistake?Oh, its easy to look back with hindsight and say that. I wont put it that way, Lucchino said. I think we made a rational decision collectively with the perspective of several people who participated in it. I was certainly a major supporter of Bobby, but just didnt work out. And all you have to do is look at the scoreboard out there that has us in last place. This is a results-oriented business and we didnt get the result we wanted.After Valentine was given the news, Lucchino said the group stayed for another 90 minutes to two hours to talk about the team, what Lucchino called in a very, I thought, by my likes, in a very constructive, candid conversation about those issues affecting the team going forward.Valentine handled it with a great deal of maturity, Cherington said. The news first and then we did have a conversation and he gave some, he offered some constructive feedback, which I had heard before because Id been talking to him all year about things that he saw that he thought could help us get better moving forward.Some were somewhat structural about how to deal with the various responsibilities of the job, Lucchino said. Some were evaluative regarding his views of certain players and their ceilings.Asked if the conversation included the culture of the team, Cherington replied:I wouldnt want to comment on the nitty-gritty details of the conversation. But when you lose the way we did this year, no matter where that happens or when it happens, the culture is not going to feel as good or look as good. It needs to improve and winning will help it improve more than anything else. But it is something that we need to improve moving forward and there are different ways to do that.The Red Sox will now be looking for their third manager in as many seasons. While Valentine may not have been the right person for the job, it is now a situation in which no team wants to be. Is there anything either Cherington or Lucchino could have done to prevent it?I cant identify specific action that we might have taken or not taken, Lucchino said. I suppose I could if I sat down and thought about it at some length. But I will tell you that there is certainly some sense of accountability or responsibility that we all feel. This is not to suggest the dismal performance of this club is not the sole responsibility of Bobby Valentine. We all have a role to play and have our full share of responsibility with things that we didnt do right, judgments that we didnt make in a timely and appropriate manner. So we, speaking for John, Tom, myself, and Ben has a part of this.We spent a lot of time in the last several weeks looking critically at ourselves, how we got to this point, how we can get out of it, said Cherington. Ive done that with myself. Part of that is player personnel-related decisions, part of it's other stuff. So I can't pick out one thing I could have done differently or we could have done differently to avoid this. We got here. There are a lot of different reasons why we got here and therell be more than one thing that gets us out of it. But thats our focus on it. We felt like this was something we needed to do to provide part of the catalyst for us to move forward.That will begin Friday with the search for a new manager, Cherington said. Neither he nor Lucchino have been in contact with any other teams to get permission to talk to their personnel. Jason Varitek, who joined the Sox last week as a special assistant to Cherington, will be part of the search committee, along with Allard Baird, vice president of player personnel and assistant GMs Mike Hazen and Brian OHalloran.I want to get Jason Varitek involved, and solicit his advice, Cherington said. I think thats important. It was important to me to add someone to the group that has been in a big league clubhouse recently, played a central role for the Red Sox, and he certainly did. So his voice will be heard. And then, as importantly -- most importantly -- collaborate with John, Tom, and Larry throughout the process because the next manager in Boston, any manager, but the next one needs to have all of our support.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.
Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.
Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.
"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.
Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.
Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.
Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.
Two aces, two different styles - and now another Cy Young Award for each.
The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Kluber's win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.
Scherzer yelled "yes!" when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding - also with expletives - that manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.
Just a little different than the pitcher they call "Klubot." Kluber was stoic as ever when announced as the AL winner. He swallowed hard but otherwise didn't react, only showing the hint of a smile moments later when answering questions.
Not that he wasn't thrilled.
"Winning a second one maybe, for me personally, kind of validates the first one," Kluber said.
Scherzer's win moves him into rare company. He's the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw and Roger Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.
"That's why I'm drinking a lot of champagne tonight," Scherzer said.
Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.
"This one is special," he said. "When you start talking about winning three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point."
Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty struck out a league-leading 268 for the NL East champion Nationals, and in an era noted for declining pitcher durability, he eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington's training staff was high on his thank-you list.
"Everybody had a role in keeping me out on the field," he said. "I'm very thankful for all their hard work."
Kershaw has won three NL Cy Youngs and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts. This is his second runner-up finish. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals finished third.
Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.
The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota's Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games - nobody else had more than two. Kluber also led the majors with 8.0 wins above replacement, per baseball-reference.com.
Kluber and Scherzer both had rough outings in the playoffs. Kluber gave up nine runs over two starts in an AL Division Series against the Yankees, and Scherzer blew a save in the decisive Game 5 of an NL Division Series against the Cubs.
Scherzer said he couldn't even watch the League Championship Series, although he did tune in for the World Series.
"That will eat at me this whole offseason," he said.
Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.
The final BBWAA honors will come Thursday when the MVP awards are announced in the AL and NL.