Red Sox

Was the media fair to Bobby V?


Was the media fair to Bobby V?

As baseball season winds down in Boston and does so far too early for the third consecutive year theres a calm thats settled over Fenway Park, the team that plays there, the fans (both real and imaginary) that pack the stands and the media that orchestrates the annual frenzy.

Its as if we all spent the last calendar year withstanding a relentless storm; having our lives turned upside down and being driven to the brink of insanity by the chaos around us. And now that the storm (aka any semblance of hope for a successful season) has moved out, its given everyone a chance to step outside, catch their breath, take stock of the damage and reflect on our respective craziness.

Looking back, I dont think theres anyone player, coach, executive, writer, reporter, fan, big green mascot involved with this Red Sox team who doesnt regret at least one aspect of the way they've acted over this past year. Whether it was something that was said to the media, something that wasnt said to the media, something that was written online, argued at a bar or screamed angrily from the stands, we all have at least one instance that we can reflect on with the benefit of distance and perspective and think: "Eh, I wish I could have that one back." (If you don't place yourself among this company, then you're a better man than I am. Also, you're a liar.)

Anyway, that brings me to a question that was thrown out and discussed last night on UNO's Sports Tonight: Has the media been too harsh on Bobby Valentine?

Or, another way to put it: Has the media been unfair to Bobby Valentine?

Of course, the answer to both questions is an undeniable, size-150-font YES.

The media has been and (especially) was ridiculously unfair to Valentine from the moment he was hired. And while I know that much of what happened is just the nature of the business, this particular situation was worse than anything I've ever seen.

The story I keep coming back to is the day that Bobby V. signed on to do a weekly radio spot with ESPN New York. Remember that little slice of hell? How half the media contingent around here reacted to the news as if they just uncovered a video of Valentine making sweet love to their wives? Yeah, you remember.

So, whatever happened to that weekly radio spot? Oh right. It's still there, and has been every week of this season, without issue. It's been such an unbelievable non-story that I'm sure more than three-quarters of Boston forgot that it even exists.

But at the time, it was an elaborate controversy; another GLARING example of why Valentine was a selfish, self-serving, egotistical prick who was more concerned with his own brand than he was anything having to do with the Boston Red Sox.

In a related story: It was crap.

During this time, everything thing that Valentine did (or didn't do), was painted with that same unreasonable brush. In the eyes of so many local media personalities, Valentine could literally do no right, and there's no question that the obsession with bringing him down before he even stood up, and then as he was trying played a major factor in 2012's legacy as one of the least enjoyable seasons in Red Sox history.

But like I said, we all made mistakes. We all got caught up in the craziness of last year's collapse and this year's struggles and overreacted in our own demented ways. Hell, in the last six months alone, I once spent more than 2,000 words comparing the Sox to a Kanye West mental breakdown, spent hours searching eBay for mean-spirited birthday presents for Josh Beckett and broke into Larry Lucchino's attic to land an interview with a dying and tortured sell-out streak.

And the bottom line is: None of it really mattered.

Even if the media was entirely unfair to Bobby V., it didn't make or break the season. The players who hated their manager didn't need any help. They were as a judgmental and shortsighted as the media themselves. You really think they would have played better or respected their manager more without all the media scrutiny?

And when Valentine is most likely let go at the end of this season, will that be the media's fault? No way. If the media had any real influence on that decision, Valentine would have been fired in April or at the All-Star Break, or after the big trade, or after any one of the million "FIRE BOBBY V NOW!" columns that were written over these past few weeks.

It's not about what's being said in the press; it's about what's going on in the field.

And fair or unfair, that's where Valentine failed. And that's why he's likely, and rather peacefully in the midst of this post-storm calm, on his way out the door.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy


Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Don’t confuse the goal of a normal spring training with the likelihood one will follow.

Tyler Thornburg’s time with the Red Sox has been an ordeal. He’s optimistic he can have a regular spring training after undergoing surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in June, a surgery that included the removal of a rib which is now on display at his parents’ house. 

He said Saturday, in fact, there’s a “very good chance” of a normal spring. But there’s also a chance his build up to regular-season form runs unevenly. And that would be OK.

“I started throwing Oct. 2, that’s when they kind of gave me the go-ahead to go tossing,” Thornburg said Saturday at Winter Weekend. “So I’ve been building up slowly since then, just trying to make sure we don’t have any setbacks or things like that, and ramp it up at a good pace. I’m throwing at 120-140 feet, so it’s about the pace I’d normally be on, granted I’d know 100 percent before where I was [under normal circumstances]. So things could be a little different."

Consider a few other things Thornburg said Saturday at Foxwoods.

“I don’t really think any of us really know how quick I’m going to bounce back necessarily as far as how quickly the recovery’s going to go in spring training after an outing,” Thornburg said. “But hopefully I mean it’s fantastic, and we can kind of just keep going.”

A bit of natural uncertainty. He missed an entire season, and the reason he missed an entire season is had a lot going on medically. 

What appeared to be a shoulder injury was far from your usual, say, rotator cuff matter. His was a nerve issue.

“Two of the neck muscles were incredibly hypertrophied, like overgrown, and they just started squeezing on the brachial plexus, where all the nerves run down,” Thornburg said. “I’d be sitting there watching a game and just a nerve thing would hit me and I’d almost get knocked over by it. As well as the first rib was getting pulled up and my hand would just turn red some days if I was just standing there, cutting off the blood circulation. Then all the scar tissue and buildup along the nerves they had to go and dissect all that off there.”

So the injury wasn’t simple, and now, the recovery process is really a whole body matter. 

"There’s a lot off things your arm has to get used to between using different muscles, as well as my arm was kind of working through a scenario where it was trying to overcompensate for this and [trying] to relieve that,” Thornburg said. “So just worked a different way. Now your body has to remember how to actually properly work again. It’s a lot of neuromuscular stuff.”

Thornburg noted the possibility too he could be ready to go to start the season but not really ready to go back to back yet. Would the Sox then carry him on the big league roster, or continue to build him up elsewhere? 

Velocity won’t be there right away for Thornburg, he said: “But I mean that’s what spring training is for for most guys anyway.”

There’s a lot of optimism, but naturally, there’s a lot to be seen. 

“The rehab process, it's been a massive rollercoaster,” Thornburg said. “It really has. But I mean, I've been trying to take it week to week which has been a lot easier. There's the good days and bad days, just different kinds.”


Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition


Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Coming off a phenomenal season, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel spent the offseason in Boston. Not to be closer to Fenway Park, but for proximity to something far more important: the city’s first-rate medical community.

Kimbrel’s daughter, Lydia Joy, was born in November with a heart issue.


“It’s been a lot,” Kimbrel said Saturday at Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. “My wife and I, we’ve kept it kind of private. But when she was born, she had some heart defects so we decided to stay in Boston and work with Children’s Hospital and just been going through that ordeal and it’s had its ups and downs but she’s doing great right now."

Focusing wasn't always easy in season, but Kimbrel said his daughter's condition has motivated him even more.

“They always say when you have a child, things change and they have," he said. "I’m definitely more focused towards her and her needs and our family needs. It’s just one day at a time and give everything I got. It’s real easy to look at her and understand everything I’m doing is for her and it makes it a lot easier.”

Kimbrel and his wife, Ashley, found out early in the 2017 season that they would be staying in Boston for the winter and were preparing.

“Everything has kind of gone as planned so far,” Kimbrel said. “She’ll have another surgery during spring training, so I’ll come back to Boston for a week and do that, but it’s been good. It’s definitely been tough, but one of the happiest, joyful times of our life.”

"Being in Boston, we feel blessed, because the doctors are the best in the world. Being able to work with them has been great.”

Kimbrel said his wife has stayed in touch with Travis Shaw’s wife. The Shaw family has had a similar experience, Kimbrel said.

“It seems like they’re doing pretty good,” Kimbrel said. “It’s been very encouraging to see.”