When Marlins skipper Ozzie Guillen recently found himself suspended after making some ill-advised remarks about Fidel Castro to Time Magazine, more than one observer pointed out this was hardly the first time Guillen had deeply embarrassed an employer with his public statements. So with Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine compelled to eat shit after his public criticism of Kevin Youkilis, let’s remember that much the way Guillen earned a loose cannon rep, Valentine is no stranger to burying players who’ve either found their way into his doghouse or might symbolize an old regime. It’s very doubtful that Todd Hundley or Pete Harnisch read of Valentine’s attack on Youklilis and thought to themselves, “Bobby’s just trying to motivate a veteran.”
In the view of SI’s Jason Turbow, Valentine might’ve already lost the support of his charges (in less than two weeks), writing, “the rest of Boston’s players have to wonder what it might take before their manager publicly questions them, as well.”
The unwritten rule to protect your players is why Whitey Herzog refused to admit that Keith Hernandez’s drug use (and his subsequent untruths when discussing it) was a motivating factor in his being dealt to the Mets in 1983, even as the manager took considerable grief for the deal.
This rule is why Joe Torre, after Roger Clemens threw a bat shard at Mike Piazza during the 2001 World Series, refrained from storming out of his postgame interview amid a battery of leading questions. He knew Clemens was to follow him in front of the press, and wanted to absorb the difficult queries himself.
This rule is why Tony La Russa defended Jose Canseco long after steroid accusations against him became part of the public dialogue, and it is likely why he continued to defend Mark McGwire against similar charges after even many of his staunchest defenders had long since given up.