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Soup of This Day #253: Thou Noble Upright Truthful Sincere, And Slightly Dopey Gent

October 7, 2012

The Lone Red Seat at Fenway
The Lone Red Seat at Fenway Park is a wonderful metaphor for love lost. It is in fact the seat in which Joseph A. Boucher was sitting June 9, 1946 when a Ted Williams long-shot hit him in the head. That blast remains the official longest at Fenway. At the time Boucher complained, ‘How far away must one sit to be safe in this park? I didn’t even get the ball. They say it bounced a dozen rows higher, but after it hit my head, I was no longer interested.’ Yep, that’s a metaphor for lost love alright – Photo: Thephatphilmz, 2012. Thephatphilmz is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Valentine’s Day is usually held to be February 14th each year. It’s the day named for Saint Valentine, a dude (or dudes) who died for love (or something) – It’s hard to be exact – It’s not entirely clear which Valentine is responsible for the day or what he did to earn such a romantic footnote.

Whatever whoever did they have done wonders for the greeting card business.

This year there was an additional Valentine’s Day – October 4. It’s not 1 that requires greeting cards though, although some baseball fans might feel the need to send a note or 2 – You see, on that day, 14 hours and 14 minutes after the last out of a dire 2012 Red Sox season, the team’s General Manager (GM) Ben Cherington announced the firing of manager Bobby Valentine.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not dancing on the grave of Bobby’s tenure at Fenway. Nobody should do that – There were many obvious factors beyond his control this term and likely a bunch of them that we will never know about. Ultimately though it takes 2 to tango, especially on Valentine’s Day, and this is 1 relationship that just did not work out. ‘It’s not you, it’s… Well, actually it is partly you and it’s partly us too,’ the club could have told him.

Chief amongst the failures was the lack of a workable rapport between Bobby and his bench staff. A fair number of the latter were hangovers from the Francona setup – Bobby was brought in too late into the piece to snap up his own hires and at best had to settle for a crew that were mostly loyal to another master.

When you’ve got key staff that are the prime interface between the manager and the players and those key staff are barely on speaking terms with the manager, then that’s a tough sell off the bat.

And so now the Red Sox and Bobby Valentine have parted ways. They have separated and this then is the theme for this post – The break-up.

I haven’t, to be honest, had to do too many of them. Mostly I specialised in a kind of pre-relationship break-up. Women tended to work out that they needed to break up with me pretty much just before a romantic relationship had formed. In my case too much communication was the problem – I worked far better as an enigma.

Still, I had break-ups. Mostly as the dumpee, although the separation was usually marked down as a face-saving mutual 1. We’d have a talk – I’d work out where things were headed and I’d agree to a split that benefited both of us but not really me. Given that she was invariably cute and that I wasn’t instigating the time apart I was pretty much the loser at the time. In hindsight though my soon-to-be-ex-girlfriends’ were making the right call.

There was 1 relationship which technically never ended. Instead of a break-up we just kind of drifted to the point where we didn’t bother interacting with each other any more. Given that the whole couple-thing had only lasted 2 weeks this was probably a neat way to give up on each other – Even if it does kind of resemble the war between the Isles of Scilly and the Netherlands.

That latter stoush started in 1651 when a Dutch Admiral demanded compensation from privateers who used the Isles of Scilly, a tiny archipelago off the coast of Cornwall in England, as a base of operations. Enraged when they promptly told him to sod off the Dutch Admiral declared war, not just on Scilly but England as well.

When everyone had taken a moment to chill out over a cup of tea the Dutch made up with the English but forgot to do so immediately with the Isles of Scilly. Although they did, to be fair, eventually get around to declaring peace.

In 1986.

Fortunately, in what is now known as the Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years’ War, nary a shot was fired across that time, making this not only 1 of the longest, but also most bloodless and effortless wars ever fought. It really was quite Scilly*…

As were my efforts to break up with girlfriends – The few times I attempted this I did so in neutral, public venues. Once I ended a relationship walking around a city block on a Sunday night. She’s now happily married with kids so I’d like to take some credit for that.

Another time, I took a girlfriend of a couple of months to a cafe called Orioles and there called time on us. She’s also now happily married with kids so I’ll take some kudos on that 1 as well.

Mostly because she married me and they’re my kids too.

A couple of weeks past we chalked up our 5th wedding anniversary. Later this year will mark 11 years since I came to my senses and we got our relationship happening. For the 2nd time.

I was lucky. Still am. Comebacks in relationships don’t happen often but they do happen. Take Bobby Valentine’s predecessor as Red Sox manager, Terry Francona. Tito had a highly successful stint at Fenway, notching up 2 World Series triumphs across 8 years. Then September 2011 happened, the Red Sox generated a mushroom cloud of crap and Tito wore the fall-out. He became an analyst for ESPN while ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine became the manager of the Red Sox.

Now Tito is set to return to a manager’s role in the big leagues.

At Cleveland.

It’s not the Red Sox but it is the rekindling of an old spark – Terry Francona had been a special assistant to the Indian’s GM Mark Shapiro in 2001 and Tito’s dad, Tito (John) Francona (Terry now wears the nickname) played for Cleveland across 5 years from 1959.

Meanwhile the front-runner to replace Valentine at the Red Sox is John Farrell, formerly Francona’s pitching coach at Boston and now the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. For a nice completeness it’s worth noting that Farrell got his start pitching in the Majors at Cleveland.

I’m starting to wonder if Cleveland is maybe the most romantic city in the world.

And Bobby Valentine? Back to TV-land and an analyst’s role – Most likely the ESPN slot vacated by Tito the Younger.

That’s where I’ll leave this post – I have to go to bed.

With someone else.

It’s not you, it’s me – We just want different things you and I – The heart wants what the heart wants. And when it’s all settled we can look back as just friends and say that we’ll always have Soup #253…

Happy Valentine’s Days.

*I wish to apologise to the inhabitants of the Isles of Scilly for using ‘Scilly’ as a replacement of ‘silly’. Scilly is not silly – I am though and if you’re upset about that then feel free to declare a harmless war on Longworth72.

Thou Noble Upright Truthful Sincere, And Slightly Dopey Gent

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