Red Sox

McAdam: Valentine brings bright lights with him to Fenway


McAdam: Valentine brings bright lights with him to Fenway

BOSTON -- About an hour after he had been formally introduced as the new manager of the Red Sox, Bobby Valentine was surrounded by reporters on the State Street Pavillion at Fenway Park, taking questions and parrying answers.

One reporter noted that this job represents the first time that Valentine had become manager of a quality team. Valentine, as he often does, did the reporter one better, noting that it's also the first time that he's not taken over in the middle of the season.

"This is going to be different," said Valentine.

Is it ever.

Valentine is the 45th manager in the Red Sox history, but the first rock star manager the franchise has ever had.

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The press conference featured reporters from five different New York-area newspapers -- and not just because Valentine's last job in Major League Baseball was as manager of the Mets.

Valentine's introduction was carried live not only by CSNNE and NESN but several of the network affiliates in town.

There were so many cameras and microphones and notebooks in the room that it was difficult to maneuver. Many would have been there if Gene Lamont had been the one being introduced Thursday afternoon, but Valentine's presence made it An Event.

He salivated over the prospect of taking part in the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry. He teared up and let out a sigh as he tried on the uniform for the first time. He smiled, joked and thanked all the right people.

He was "humbled, honored and pretty damn excited," he said.

Never, it seems safe to say, have the Red Sox had a manager like this, who arrives with a built-in star quality.

They've done scrappy first-timers (Dick Williams). They've done loyal organizational men (Eddie Kasko) and they've done grizzled retreads (Ralph Houk, John McNamara). They've done local natives (Joe Morgan) and good ol' sons of the South (Butch Hobson).

They've done old-school lifers (Jimy Williams) and cornpone (Grady Little). They hired someone who had four losing seasons and watched him win two World Series (Terry Francona).

But they've never done this before -- an honest-to-goodness, larger-than-life, scenery-chewing, ready-for-my-closeup manager.

It's not just his TV experience that prepared him for this, the role of a lifetime. Though Valentine was a natural on TV, it was a mere professional layover for him, something to keep him occupied and around the game while waiting for the right opportunity to present itself.

Enter the Red Sox.

For all his polish and savvy and comfort in front of the camera, Valentine is actually a throwback to a time when baseball managers had personalities. He would have fit right in in the 1970s with Billy Martin, Earl Weaver and, of course, his baseball godfather, Tommy Lasorda.

Lately, it's as if the personalities have been scrubbed clean from the game. Too many managers speak Cliche as a second language and measure every response about their starting rotation as though it was a matter of national security.

Valentine doesn't do dull or predictable. He has boundless energy, an unquenchable appetite for baseball and a genuine love of the game. He even married into baseball bloodlines (his wife is the daughter of Ralph Branca).

His postgame press conferences will become appointment viewing and there may be nights that Pam Ganley, the team's media relations director, will have to yank Valentine off the podium with a cane, Vaudeville-style -- not because he's bombing but because he can'twon't stop talking.

Sports is big business, a battle for the entertainment dollar with plenty of competition elsewhere. Don't think for a minute that the Red Sox didn't take that into consideration when they settled on Valentine. They not only have a skipper of the local nine, as Morgan quaintly put it two decades ago, they have a honest-too-goodness personality.

Ultimately, of course, Valentine wasn't brought in to entertain or make the post-game show compelling. He was brought in to win. If he doesn't, or fails to get the reins on the clubhouse, it could get ugly.

Like every other Red Sox manager in the last 30 years, the expectations will be huge and the honeymoon brief.

But it will be an interesting ride along the way. Bobby Valentine may be a lot of things, but "dull" isn't one of them.

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement


MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

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.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young


Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

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

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.