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Bobby V vs. the players - No one wins

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BOSTON (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) - Rock bottom is an interesting term, used usually to describe the final incident in a long line of incidents that have led a person, or group of people to their proverbial lowest point. It's difficult to predict, I mean how do you really know that things can't get worse, that one particular moment is the final punch to the gut?

Rock bottom is to be reserved for those moments that have staying power, the moments that when the bad times are over, you can look back and say "Wow, things used to be that bad?" For the 2012 Boston Red Sox, rock bottom happened on Tuesday.

Jeff Passan, of Yahoo Sports, reported on Tuesday the level of dissonance between Red Sox players and manager Bobby Valentine. Passan talked about a meeting involving 17 Red Sox players where the issue of Valentine was discussed with Owner John Henry and President of Baseball Operations Larry Luchhino.

Reportedly players told ownership that they no longer wanted to play for the controversial Valentine in part because he had kept Jon Lester in for too long in a game against Toronto, leading to Lester allow a career high 11 runs. Yes, 17 players were basically telling the owners to fire their boss for not thinking about Lester's feelings before making a baseball decision. You cannot make this stuff up people. 

Listen, the Red Sox should fire Bobby Valentine, they really should. The man was an average (at best) manager for the Mets over a decade ago who even back then, had trouble keeping his mouth shut and gaining players trust.

Fast forward 10 years, and Valentine is now a man who the game has quite simply passed by. Earlier this year, he admitted he did not know whether an opposing starting pitcher was a righty or a lefty. Yes in the age of the internet, and 300 page scouting reports, the manager of the Boston Red Sox did not know which arm an opposing pitcher threw from.

In April, Valentine questioned the effort of Kevin Youkilis, one of the hardest working, most high energy players in baseball. 

In July, he sarcastically criticized rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks following a two error inning. He doesn't do a good job, and he isn't respected. Is that grounds for firing? Yes.  

But you know what is not grounds for firing? Hurting a player's feelings.

Jon Lester is a 28-year-old man who has spent the past seven years in the big leagues. He has beaten cancer. He has won the clinching game of the World Series. He's made two All-Star games and finished fourth in the 2010 AL Cy Young vote. By all accounts, he's been an incredibly successful player for the Sox. He's also having a terrible season. His 6-10 win-loss record and 5.20 ERA are both by far the worst of his career. So when Valentine decided to leave Lester in for the fifth inning against the Blue Jays on July 22 so that he could save the bullpen, it was a defensible position. The game was lost, Lester was asked to be a good soldier and eat another inning or two to save the pen. He couldn't get the job done and ended up giving up two more runs before Valentine pulled the plug on him. Again, this is not exactly a crime against humanity.

Yet fellow Sox players decided that this was the straw that broke the camel's back, calling for, and receiving a face-to-face meeting with ownership asking for Valentine's firing. Embarrassing, but predictable. 

These are the same players, after all, that during last September's collapse complained about the travel schedule and the number of primetime night games. After that complaint, Henry invited the players out for a night on his yacht and bought them all $500 headphones. He coddled them.

What happened next? A 7-20 finish to the season that led to Terry Francona, a player's manager in every way imaginable, being fired, even after the Sox missed the playoffs by only a single game. The players poor play got their manager fired. Not the fairest of shakes for the best skipper in the history of the franchise, but ownership wanted a change, and made it. 

Less than a year later, players are again complaining. This time not about the schedule, but about the man who replaced Francona. Now ownership is left in a nearly impossible position. Do they fire Valentine, basically giving the players this year's version of the headphones and yacht trip? Or do they stick by Bobby V, who clearly is in over his head, and end the coddling of a group of entitled players that haven't won a playoff game in nearly four years? 

Either way there is no winner here. Valentine can't win, his players loathe him and his coaches don't speak to him. The players can't win because once Valentine is fired, the heat on them will turn up immensely, which is something that a team with a $172 million payroll and a sub-.500 record won't find pleasant.

And the fans? Well the fans are the biggest losers of them all. Stuck paying the most money, to watch the most disappointing team, with the league's most unlikeable players play out the string in a yet another lost season. 

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