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Bobby Valentine Is Already Prodding the Yankees–Red Sox Rivalry

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 01:  Bobby Valentine attends a press conference introducing him as the new manager of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on December 1, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) The new face in the Yankees-Sox rivalry.

Boston's hiring of Bobby Valentine, as Joe said when it happened, will keep things interesting for the Red Sox if nothing else. Valentine has a bit of a fetish for causing a stir as evidenced by, well, all those times he caused stirs as manager of the Mets. Now in Boston, Valentine must have gotten wind of the fact that the Red Sox and Yankees have a bit of a rivalry, and took some media availability as an opportunity to stoke said rivalry.

The "stoking" wasn't really all that much. When speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Valentine went far out of his way to take some "jabs" or "rip" the Yankees or whatever they're saying these days. First, he took a "poke" at Alex Rodriguez, referencing the 2004 tussle with Jason Varitek that we mentioned here yesterday:

"From afar, he was everything you want a guy who wears a 'C' to be," Valentine said of the longtime Red Sox captain. "He was a man's man, he was a big hitter when needed, he was the leader of the pitching staff. [Pause] He was able to beat up Alex, all that stuff. He was exactly what he was supposed to be.''

Okay, I guess. And then there's this:

...when discussing his team practicing the fundamentals of relays and cutoffs, Valentine took a shot at Jeter's renowned backhand flip in Game 3 of the 2001 AL Division Series...

"We'll never practice that," Valentine said. "I think [Jeter] was out of position and the ball gets [Giambi] out if [Jeter] doesn't touch it, personally."

I mean, I'm not sure how much of a "shot" that is to Jeter or Yankee fans, but it just strikes me as a bit of a reach. The thing about the Yankees–Red Sox rivalry is that it doesn't need any stoking; it just happens. So, for Valentine to voluntarily digress to Yankees-bashing that centers around decade-old events seems forced, if anything. It's like he woke up in the morning and said, "What can I do to irritate those dastardly Yankees today? They're our rivals!" It's part of Valentine's shtick and perhaps it really will get Yankee fans riled up (Yankee fans, are you riled up?), but the rivalry doesn't exactly need Valentine's stoking to stay ablaze. There will assuredly be opportunities for more incisive, less gratuitous "shots" in the future.

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Photo: Elsa/2011 Getty Images