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Top Stories of 2012, No. 2: Bobby Valentine leads woeful Sox to 93 losses, gets fired 12.31.12 at 11:30 am ET
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Over the final week of 2012, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. This entry in the countdown is No. 2: Bobby Valentine’s nightmare season as Red Sox manager.

Check out our previous entries:
No. 10: NHL lockout
No. 9: Wes Welker’s up-and-down year
No. 8: Bruins’ early playoff elimination
No. 7: Ray Allen’s departure from Celtics
No. 6: Tim Thomas’ political controversy and sabbatical
No. 5: Celtics’ Eastern Conference finals loss to Heat
No. 4: Red Sox’ megatrade with Dodgers
No. 3: Tom Brady’s MVP-caliber season

Bobby Valentine

In a forgettable season, the 2012 Sox finished 69-93, their worst record since 1965, and in last place in the American League East for the first time since John Henry and Tom Werner bought the team.

According to multiple reports, Bobby Valentine was not the preferred choice of first-year general manager Ben Cherington, but team president and CEO Larry Lucchino made the hire to replace Terry Francona.

As Valentine was formally introduced to Boston, nobody could have foreseen the outcome of the season.

“I am honored, I’m humbled and I’m pretty damn excited,” Valentine said at his introductory press conference. “This day is a special day, and it’s more than a special day. It’s the beginning of a life that I think is going to extend beyond anything else that I thought of doing. The talent level and the players that we have in this organization, I think, is a gift to anyone. And I’m the receiver of that gift.”

Valentine, 62, would become the first Red Sox manager since 1934 (Bucky Harris) to be fired after just one season with the team.

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Read More: 2012 Stories of the Year, Ben Cherington, bobby valentine, Curt Schilling
Top Stories of 2012, No. 4: Red Sox complete blockbuster trade with Dodgers 12.30.12 at 9:12 am ET
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Over the final week of 2012, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. This entry in the countdown is No. 4: the Red Sox’ megatrade with Dodgers

Check out our previous entries:
No. 10: NHL lockout
No. 9: Wes Welker’s up-and-down year
No. 8: Bruins’ early playoff elimination
No. 7: Ray Allen’s departure from Celtics
No. 6: Tim Thomas’ political controversy and sabbatical
No. 5: Celtics’ Eastern Conference finals loss to Heat

It is one of the biggest trades the Red Sox have ever made. The late-August blockbuster deal that sent Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers will go down as a landmark moment for Sox ownership as it tries to rebuild a team that has won two World Series in the last decade.

In exchange, the Sox received first baseman James Loney and four prospects: pitchers Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, infielder Ivan De Jesus Jr. and outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands.

The moving of Beckett, Gonzalez, Crawford and Punto was a major shift for the Sox, who in the past years had been locking players into long-term contracts. Together, those four players represent 11 All-Star appearances, four Gold Gloves, three World Series rings, one World Series MVP, one LCS MVP and one All-Star MVP.

The Sox, with that trade, started the reconstruction of a team which had fallen short of expectations beginning with an epic collapse in September 2011.

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Read More: 2012 Stories of the Year, Adrian gonzalez, Allen Webster, Ben Cherington
Top Stories of 2011, No. 3: Red Sox’ manager/GM turnover 12.29.11 at 12:00 pm ET
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For the final 10 days of 2011, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. Our next entry in the countdown is No. 3: The Red Sox’ manager/GM turnover.

Check out our previous entries:
No. 10: NBA lockout
No. 9: NFL lockout
No. 8: Celtics’ playoff loss to Heat
No. 7: Patriots’ acquisitions of Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco
No. 6: Jacoby Ellsbury’s MVP-caliber season
No. 5: Patriots’ playoff loss to Jets
No. 4: Celtics’ trade of Kendrick Perkins

Terry Francona and Theo Epstein faced the media following the Red Sox' September swoon, and shortly thereafter both were gone from Boston. (AP)

On Sept. 29, a visibly frustrated Terry Francona sat beside a similarly frustrated-looking Theo Epstein in the Fenway Park media room. Epstein wore a navy blue Red Sox zip-up. He sat hunched forward while Francona leaned back in his chair, his arms crossed across his chest and a glower on his face. The two men attempted to explain why the Red Sox — a team that had been in first place going into September and was the best team in baseball at times during the summer months — failed to make the playoffs due to a 7-20 September.

But neither man had a satisfying explanation for the club’s September swoon, and neither man was willing to address his status with the team going forward. Francona appeared to be in a more precarious position than Epstein. The manager had just completed the last year of a three-year, $12 million contract that had an option for the 2012 and 2013 seasons that ownership would have to decide to pick up.

Epstein had one year left on a four-year deal that would keep him in Boston until the end of the 2012 season.

It was Francona who addressed his contract status first, as he met with Red Sox brass behind closed doors the morning after his tense press conference with Epstein. There, Francona said he informed ownership that he felt it was time for a new managerial voice to help guide the team.

“I passed along my frustrations at my inability to effectively reach the players,” Francona said in a statement after the club announced he would not be returning. “After many conversations and much consideration, I ultimately felt that, out of respect to this team, it was time for me to move on. I’ve always maintained that it is not only the right, but the obligation, of ownership to have the right person doing this job. I told them that out of my enormous respect for this organization and the people in it, they may need to find a different voice to lead the team.”

After Francona’s departure, more details emerged about the troubled times over the course of the season that led to his desire to leave the organization. Francona said he felt like the team was not coming together over the course of the season the way teams typically do, and after leaving the Red Sox Francona said he did not always feel that ownership supported him.

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Read More: Ben Cherington, bobby valentine, Terry Francona, Theo Epstein
Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: NBA legend Julius Erving to auction off rings, MVP trophies 10.26.11 at 7:54 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WHAT’S HAPPENING LOCALLY WEDNESDAY:
No games scheduled

AROUND THE WEB:

♦ NBA legend Julius Erving, who is being sued for failing to repay more than $200,000 to a Georgia bank, is auctioning off some of his personal memorabilia, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Items on the block Friday include his 1983 Sixers championship ring and his ABA rings from 1974 and ’76 with the New York Nets, along with MVP trophies from both leagues. The minimum bid on his NBA ring is $25,000.

♦ Speaking of sports memorabilia, federal authorities on Tuesday charged six dealers with selling hundreds of fraudulent game-used jerseys to trading card companies and other buyers. The Chicago FBI and other federal agencies conducted a four-year investigation into sports memorabilia fraud and questioned executives from the leading companies.

♦ According to the most recent NCAA figures, athletes’ graduation rates up are to an all-time high of 82 percent. This single-year graduation success rate (GSR) is for students who began college in 2004 and allows six years for them to get a degree. Boston College checks in at 97 percent, tied with Duke for highest in the ACC.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Oct. 26, 1973, the Red Sox traded Reggie Smith and Ken Tatum to the Cardinals for which two players who would play key roles on the 1975 American League championship team?

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Read More: Ben Cherington, Julius Erving, Terrell Owens, Tim Tebow