Boston Manager Bobby Valentine Has His Carnival Act In Regular-Season Form

Are you tired of Bobby Valentine yet, New York Yankees fans? The brash new Boston Red Sox manager has been taking shots at Yankee stars Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez lately. Before Spring Training even began Valentine was tweaking the Yankees, saying he was not impressed by their acquisitions of starting pitchers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda.

No Spring Training games have even been played yet, and the new Boston manager has already stoked the flames of baseball's best rivalry.

Make no mistake, Valentine is not doing this without thought, without a purpose. The former New York Mets skipper is a lot of things -- talkative, annoying, egotistical, odd -- are just a few that come to mind. One thing Valentine is not, though. He is definitely not stupid.

He knows exactly what he is doing when he turns his taciturn tongue on the most important Yankees, and the team's most important personnel moves.

He is trying to get under the skin of the Yankees, or get in their heads if you want to put it that way. He is trying to make the Yankees think about him, be aware of him. He wants to distract their focus.

He wants to annoy Jeter and make him answer silly questions about the Flip Play, which he had to do on Wednesday. He wants to make A-Rod think about things other than hitting, and we know it isn't really all that difficult to distract Rodriguez, anyway.

He also wants to keep the focus off his own players, and the problems the Red Sox face as they enter the 2012 season.

Valentine doesn't want to keep answering questions about the beer ban in the Boston clubhouse, or the locker room implosion of 2011 that led to Terry Francona's firing and Valentine's eventual hiring. He doesn't want to answer questions about how the Red Sox will fill out a starting rotation, or what a bullpen without Jonathan Papelbon or Daniel Bard is going to look like. He doesn't want to answer questions about who will play shortstop, or whether Boston's signing of Carl Crawford a year ago was a smart move. He doesn't want to talk about who plays right field.

Valentine wants to deflect all of that. If he can play the ogre, if he can keep the focus on himself and on the outlandish or unexpected things he might say about the Yankees then he is doing exactly what he wants to do. He is keeping the attention off his players and the issues facing the Red Sox as they prepare for the 2012 season.

This is all just typical Valentine sideshow stuff, and should not come as any surprise to the Yankees or their fans. You might as well get used to the carnival act, though. As SB Nation's Rob Neyer correctly surmised, "He's only just begun."

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