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North Branford SportsBeat: Bobby V on the Hot Seat

Bobby Valentine's friends weigh in on the Red Sox manager and his rough start.

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has been enemy number one in Boston this season. The Red Sox got off a rough start and the Stamford native has a bulls-eye on his back. He's been booed by the fans, questioned by the media, and criticized by some of his own players.

"Bobby's fine, he's doing fine," said Ralph Branca, former pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers who also happens to be Valentine's father-in-law. "He was criticized when he was managing the Mets, so he's been through this before."

Yes, Valentine has been booed and criticized before, but nothing like what he's experienced in Boston already. Sports talk radio has been relentless, hammering his every move. It's been a feeding frenzy for the writers and analysts, as well.

"He doesn't worry about what other people think," said Branca. "He hasn't been stung by the criticism. Bobby is not concerned about the writers, they can write whatever they want. Writers are writers, ballplayers are ballplayers. Bobby knows that he has to do his job and things will turn around."

Valentine inherited a team with a weak bullpen and now has a disabled list that features Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Andrew Bailey. Players like Kevin Youkilis, whom Valentine criticized, then felt the wrath of the fans for doing it, have gotten off to a slow start.

"You know what Yogi Berra once said?" Branca asked. "He said, 'You know what makes a great manager? Great ballplayers.' Once the Red Sox get some of their injured players back, they'll be fine."

Nick Cafardo, longtime reporter at the Boston Globe who covers the Red Sox, was surprised by the criticism Valentine received after the team lost four of its first 14 games.

"It was pretty bad, but people are now coming around to blaming more the ownership, (GM) Cherington and the players. It seems the people blaming Valentine were Francona supporters," Cafardo said. "There's no doubt he took a lot of heat for the Youkilis comments, but since the team has picked it up last couple of days, that's died down."

Winning can cure a lot of the ill will that's been thrust upon Valentine by the Red Sox rabid fan base. New York is a bigger city than Boston, but the microscope is much more intense because there is only one baseball team in town and the Red Sox have long been the king of it.

"As a friend, it's tough to see Bobby go through that and you definitely feel for him," said Mitch Hoffman, head baseball coach at and a business partner with Valentine at his baseball facility in Stamford. "He puts his heart and soul into everything that he does. I've seen it first hand. Bobby will get the job done."

Valentine's had a charmed life, one that's been filled with tremendous accomplishments. Failure has never been an option for the former Rippowam High School star and his friends say he will survive and thrive after the team's terrible start to the season.

"Bobby will not fold under the pressure, that's why the Red Sox got him as their manager," Hoffman said. He loves being the underdog and proving people wrong."

There is a perception that Valentine is all about Valentine and that he only cares about himself, "That's the furthest thing from the truth," Hoffman said "He just texted me today and all he did was ask me about how my season was going and he wished me nothing but success this year."

The Red Sox opened the season with a brutal schedule, playing the Tigers, Rangers, Rays, and Yankees in the first two weeks. They have a bit of a breather with the Twins, White Sox, A's, Orioles, and Royals, which could mean that Valentine can right the ship much sooner than a lot of people expected.

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