Just when you thought the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry couldn't get any more intense, along comes Bobby Valentine. Unlike the non-confrontational Terry Francona and Joe Girardi, Valentine has no problem stirring the pot and seemed to take special pleasure in tweaking the Yankees as manager of the Mets, and that was when they only played three times a year in virtually meaningless games. Imagine what will come out of Valentine's gob with the teams meeting 18 times and potentially battling for the division title, or better yet, having to meet in the newly-instituted one-game playoff to determine the wild card team?
Among Valentine's greatest anti-Yankee moments were his bench jockeying David Cone into balking home a run in the first-ever interleague series between the Yankees and Mets in 1997; his rage at Roger Clemens for beaning Mike Piazza, which led to his famous comment about the difference between Bob Gibson and Clemens throwing at hitters being the differnce between "wearing pants and wearing a skirt,'' and his presumed ordering of Shawn Estes to plunk Clemens at Shea Stadium. He was visibly disgusted when Estes threw behind Clemens but somehow failed to make contact with The Rocket's sizeable posterior.
Valentine can't make the Red Sox stay healthy but he can keep them from hitting the booze during a game and if nothign else, he will light a fire under a team that looked pretty complacent in 2011. He will do the same for a rivalry that, while still intense, began to lack that little something that made it incendiary back in the late 1990s.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who lives not far from Valentine in Connecticut and considers him a friend, said, "I don't look forward to seeing him in that other dugout.''
Well, that makes one of us.