WATCH: NBC 10 Boston's “The Bobby Valentine Experience” is must-see TV


The Boston Red Sox were riding high in the 2011 season before their epic September collapse. They blew a nine-game lead in the division and failed to make the playoffs after going 7-20 in the final month.

Shortly after the season, it was revealed that some Red Sox pitchers were eating fried chicken and drinking beer in the clubhouse during games while the team was falling apart on the field. The scandal prompted the departures of manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein.

In late November, Bobby Valentine was hired as Francona's replacement despite being away from MLB since 2002. The move was met with disdain from players and the result was a disastrous 2012 season. Boston finished in last place at 69-93, its worst record since 1965, but the wins and losses don't tell the whole story of Valentine's wild Red Sox tenure.

In NBC 10 Boston's "The Bobby Valentine Experience," Valentine and players from that 2012 team are an open book. They give the behind-the-scenes of all of the trials and tribulations from that infamous year in Red Sox history.

Ways to watch: You can watch the full series on your Roku, Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV device: add NBC10 Boston to your collection, open the channel and select "The Bobby V Experience." Or, scroll through the videos below.

Here were some of the highlights from "The Bobby Valentine Experience" ... 

Starting off on the wrong foot

Red Sox pitchers from the 2011 club were busted for eating chicken and drinking beer on days they weren't pitching. Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Jon Lester were among those rumored to be popular Popeyes customers during that September collapse.

The scandal led to the firing of Francona, who had led the team to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. NBC Sports Boston's Michael Holley, formerly of WEEI, was out to dinner with Francona the night Valentine was introduced as the new manager. Red Sox players texted Francona their shocked reactions to the hiring.

"His phone was blowing up," Holley said. "'Here's another one!' Josh Beckett, 'Get the (expletive) out of here, they hired this guy?' Dustin Pedroia, 'This is a (expletive) disaster!' Like, all these guys are checking in with Francona saying, 'I can't believe we hired this guy. Please help us!' And he's laughing."

Valentine immediately left his mark in spring training by banning alcohol in the clubhouse. At this point, Red Sox players identified who they believed to be responsible for leaking the chicken and beer story to the media.

"That's when it first came up, the idea the pitchers hated (Kevin) Youkilis," Valentine said. "They didn't want him sitting on the same side of the room. They had to change things around before everyone got there. It was the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. ...

"Youkilis came in one day and he said, 'Hey listen, I'll play hard when I'm out on the field, but I'm not ever going out to dinner with these guys or going to talk to him off the field.' Then pitchers would come in and say, 'I don't want to be pitching when the guy's playing third base because he's gonna let the ball go down the line."

The morale in the clubhouse didn't get any better from there.

The Kevin Youkilis callout

Not even a month into the campaign, Valentine called Youkilis out during an interview. Valentine said the veteran third baseman wasn't as physically or emotionally into the game as he was in previous seasons.

"I didn't agree with some of the stuff that went on," former Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "I think the Youkilis thing was handled wrong. Bobby was a little bit more vocal in the media and put the blame on who it was supposed to be on, and I think those guys didn't really know how to deal with it."

Valentine found Youkilis waiting outside his office to express his displeasure with those comments.

"He was quite angry," Valentine recalled. "And he said, 'I can't believe you said those things on TV last night in an interview.' And he said, 'My agent just texted me these comments that you made, and they're the worst comments that anybody ever made about me.'

"I was sick and tired of it. That was as bad of a situation as you could imagine and he was totally struggling with this situation. It wasn't fun for him to be with this group and it wasn't fun for anyone else including me to have him with the group."

Youkilis was traded to the Chicago White Sox in June, and his departure was a breath of fresh air for Valentine.

"It didn't go away until Youk went away," he said.

Josh Beckett's Day Off

At the beginning of May with the Red Sox in last place, Valentine announced Josh Beckett would miss his upcoming start due to a sore lat. The next day, Beckett was spotted golfing on the team's day off. Many wondered if he could golf, why can't he pitch?

Beckett was asked about his actions during a press conference.

"We get 18 off days a year," he said. "I think we deserve a little bit of time to ourselves."

That attitude, along with the whole chicken and beer saga, implied Beckett was more focused on himself than the team.

Valentine and Beckett didn't have a great relationship during their brief time together in Boston. In fact, Valentine knew it wasn't going to go well with Beckett when he first met with the star pitcher at his Texas ranch.

"I was let in through the gates of this massive ranch that he had. Someone met me at the door, they said I could go wait for Josh out at the pool," Valentine said. "I sat out at the pool with one bottle of water for about 45 minutes waiting for Josh to come out. We talked for about an hour. Josh said to me, 'You know, if I was only making $5 million instead of $15 million I'd just walk away from this game.' And I said, wow, that's the guy who's going to be pitching for me. ...

"Josh was very aloof. He was a different kind of character. There was always a wall. He wasn't gonna let me in. I wasn't important. I don't even know if he'd recognize me if I walked into his room. Josh was always in his own world."

The dysfunctional coaching staff

It wasn't just the players who weren't on the same page as Valentine. The coaches also failed to connect with the manager.

"Timmy Bogar one day wouldn't talk to me for the entire game," Valentine said. "He's my bench coach. I'm doing a whole game with a coach who's not talking to me. It was very uncomfortable."

Valentine also had a falling out with bullpen coach Gary Tuck over how to use pitcher Daniel Bard.

"I don't think he spoke to me the rest of the year," Valentine said. "Like, when I said, 'Hey, Gary. How you doing?' I'm not sure if I got a verbal response."

The skipper's relationship with his coaches, or lack thereof, was made clear during a radio interview with WEEI.

"We used to talk to him every week on the radio, which was very entertaining. You just never know what he was going to say," Holley said. "One week we asked him flat-out, 'Do you trust your coaches?' He said, 'No.'"

Larry Lucchino's Letter

During the All-Star Break, team CEO Larry Lucchino wrote a letter to season ticket holders asking them to keep the faith. The message reeked of desperation.

Here's what it said:

“We have watched the team coalesce into a close group,” wrote Lucchino. “Personalities are enhancing the chemistry, such as the cheerful Cody Ross, the friendly Mike Aviles, and the inspiring story of Daniel Nava. Jarrod Saltalamacchia has shown power, in the clutch, worthy of an All-Star. And as the talented Will Middlebrooks forced his way into the lineup, we bade farewell, with gratitude, to Kevin Youkilis, who helped us win two World Championships.

“The one constant off the field is that we have had a veritable All-Star Team on the disabled list. As we begin the second half, we look forward to the return of the “varsity,” including Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, Andrew Bailey, and the ever-dirty Dustin Pedroia."

Needless to say, the letter wasn't well-received.

"This is a real letter by a Major League organization that has won championships. Like, this is not an expansion team. This is not a perpetual loser," Holley said.

"At that point, 2012, this team had won two championships. It wasn't a Mickey Mouse, yahoo market. People aren't going to buy that. What are they thinking?"

Players meet with ownership

The breaking point came on July 22, when Valentine left Lester in the game against the Toronto Blue Jays despite the southpaw allowing a career-high 11 runs. The questionable move didn't sit well with the players.

"It was already kind of brewing, but I think a turning point for me that really sticks out in my head that bothers me, and I think that's when he 100% lost all the players, is when he had Lester on the mound," Saltalamacchia said.

"He left a guy who's, you know, your ace. Who's done everything for this team, who's been a grinder, the heart and soul of your starting rotation, and you leave him out there to give up 14, 15 runs instead of protecting him. So, I think that's when every player was like, 'You know what? This guy's definitely not there to protect us and watch after us, so we've gotta do our own thing.'"

Shortly after that controversy came another. Valentine was texting his coaches on a flight about which pitcher should be demoted to the minor leagues. The problem was that the group text also included the catchers, Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach.

"As I look down the aisle, Kelly Shoppach was going around showing the pitchers the text," Valentine said. "One of the responses was about (Mark) Melancon, and one of the coaches said, 'That curveball doesn't work in this league.'"

It took only minutes for that text message to make its way around the Red Sox clubhouse. This led to players taking matters into their own hands.

Shoppach used Adrian Gonzalez's phone to text owner John Henry because they wanted the message coming from the highest-paid player on the team. They were fed up with Valentine and wanted a private meeting with ownership.

"The whole team was there about how everyone wanted Bobby gone," former Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross said. "Guys got up and said their piece and said, 'Hey, this guy's gotta go. We don't want him here. It's not working. We don't want to play for him.'"

Johnny Pesky's Funeral

In August, tragedy struck Red Sox Nation as the legendary Johnny Pesky passed away at the age of 93. Pesky was synonymous with the Red Sox, but only four players from Boston's roster showed up to the franchise icon's funeral.

David Ortiz, Clay Buchholz, Vicente Padilla, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia were the only Red Sox players to pay their respects. Red Sox ownership made it optional to attend the funeral, but the lackluster turnout still was a bad look for the organization.

"You have to honor him," Holley said. "Current players, former players, the whole organization. It has to be a mandate."

Making things worse during the PR nightmare was a large group of players attended Beckett's charity bowling event the night of Pesky's funeral.

"In life, in death, they really struck the proper tone. And then for Johnny Pesky, they blew it," Holley said. "They all blew it. The players blew it. The organization blew it. So, yeah, it was a disaster."

The August blockbuster

The Red Sox cleared $250 million off the books by sending Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was a move that took everyone by surprise, especially Valentine.

"When you talk about a confusing situation, I left my office to go down to the dugout," Valentine remembered. "As I was walking through the clubhouse, a lot of guys were standing around, including Adrian. He was waiting for me as I walked out and he said, 'What am I doing in the lineup?' And I said, 'We're just trying to win a game, dude. Let's go.'

"He says, 'No, I just got traded along with those other guys.' And then I said, 'Ah, it's just a rumor, let's go.' He said, 'No, the Dodgers are sending a plane for us.'

It wasn't until the national anthem before the game that Valentine found out the trade indeed had gone down. Assistant GM Brian O'Halloran broke the news to Valentine and told him he needed to make a new lineup.

"The ship had just sailed at that point and guys were just ready to get through the season," former Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks said.

Valentine didn't even have a chance to meet with the traded players before they boarded their plane to L.A.

"That was the weirdest day of my life. By the time I made a pitching change and we were gonna have that time for me to go up into the clubhouse and say goodbye and thank the guys, they were already gone."

'If I were there, I'd punch you in the mouth'

Later on in the year, Valentine again made headlines for being late to Oakland Coliseum. He explained that his tardiness was due to having to pick up his son at the airport and deal with the traffic from San Francisco International Airport to Oakland.

The players admit at this point, especially after that August trade, they weren't 100% invested in the season. Valentine was asked by WEEI host Glenn Ordway after being late to Oakland whether he was mentally checked out.

"What an embarrassing thing to say," Valentine told Ordway. "You know if I was there, I'd punch you in the mouth. How does that sound?"

That wasn't the only embarrassing moment for Valentine around this time.

"We had a day game, it was like noon and the game was at 1," Ross recalled.  "Bobby was in the massage room getting a massage at like, noon, and he was asleep on the massage table. Guys were taking pictures of him. It was just one of those things you just never see as a player. You never see a manager getting a massage like an hour before the game. It was pretty funny. It was actually one of the more funny experiences I've had as a player."

End of an error

Unsurprisingly, Valentine was relieved of his duties after the team's last-place season. Looking back on his rocky tenure with the organization, he believes he was hired to be a scapegoat.

"It was weird. It wasn't a regular situation," Valentine said. "There wasn't anything regular about that year and I really think there was a lot of preconceived plans that I had to take the beer out, I had to be the bad guy with Youkilis, I had to create some other dysfunctionality in the clubhouse that was already dysfunctional when I took it over."

Valentine was replaced by John Farrell, and the rest is history. The Red Sox stocked up on grizzled veterans who were popular in the clubhouse, went from worst to first, and were crowned World Series champions in 2013.

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