Bobby Valentine Isn't Wasting Any Time

Red Sox manager tweaks two Yankee stars

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Just 51 days until the first Red Sox-Yankees game.

    You knew it would be fun to have Bobby Valentine back in Major League Baseball, especially since he was in a place where he could easily pick up his old feud with the Yankees.

    You could probably have guessed that he wouldn't wait for actual games to start to turn up the heat in the rivalry, not when there's so much dead time to fill during spring training. And that's just what Bobby V did on Monday.

    While talking about the retirement of longtime Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, Valentine talked about what a good leader Varitek was and how many big hits he came up with during his time in Boston. He also credited him with beating up Alex Rodriguez during their infamous 2004 ALCS scrape, a fight that has been elevated to legendary status in Boston because of the way the Red Sox came back to win the series.

    Varitek jumping A-Rod broke some kind of psychic hold that the Yankees held on the Red Sox and that, not the fact that the Yankees ran out of pitchers worthy of being on a major league mound, is why they won. Or so the argument goes.

    If Bobby V had stopped there, it wouldn't really have raised much of an eyebrow. Yankees fans don't like being reminded of that series, but taking shots at A-Rod isn't really treading on sacred ground for a group that likes to take a few potshots at Rodriguez themselves.

    But attacking Derek Jeter and specifically attacking Jeter's flip play against the A's in the 2001 playoffs? That's some serious blasphemy, fella.

    "We’ll never practice that," Valentine said. "And I think he was out of position, and I think the ball gets him out if he doesn’t touch it, personally. ... That was amazing that [Jeter] was there. I bet it's more amazing that he said he practiced it. I don't believe it."

    Opinions can vary on that point, although it's hard to come up with a way that Jeter's play (and, it must be said, Jeremy Giambi's refusal to slide) wasn't crucial to getting the out at home plate. But this is one of those points where facts don't much matter.

    For all of the achievements Jeter has had on the field, the flip play is the one that allowed people to turn him into something more than just a great baseball player. He was the Captain, making plays that weren't on the script because he prepared for all situations and that's driven his legacy to Rushmore-style proportions.

    So, really, there's no bigger target for Valentine to go after in his attempt to turn the focus off of the epic Red Sox collapse of last summer and back onto the rivalry between the two teams. Saying that Jeter didn't need to make the play is a light slap, but combining it with the suggestion that he's a liar is akin to saying that Lou Gehrig didn't actually consider himself to be the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.

    There's not much chance that this will actually impact the results of games on the field this season, although it should make life a lot more enjoyable for those of us who get to watch it unfold. Our only suggestion would be for Valentine to take a look at Rex Ryan as a guide for going to the microphone in the year to come.

    If you win, you're a charming rogue. If you lose, you're a loudmouthed fool.

    There's no in-between and, based on what we saw in Boston at the end of last season, there won't be anyone standing up to support you if things don't go your way.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.