The day after tumbling off his mountain bike on the steep slope of the Central Park Reservoir, Bobby Valentine was on the verge of taking the fall for this pitiful Red Sox season.
Valentine faced one final barrage of questions Wednesday before what was expected to be his final game as the Boston manager, and CBSSports.com went as far as to report that his firing would be "soon" after the season's conclusion.
When asked about his status, Valentine told Newsday that he had not directly heard from ownership or the front office regarding his situation -- his two-year contract runs through 2013 -- but had his suspicions this would be the end for him.
"I had every opportunity to succeed," Valentine said, "and didn't."
The Red Sox, who have not made the playoffs since 2009, suffered their first 90-loss season since 1966. And now, only a year after firing Terry Francona following an epic collapse -- along with the whole chicken-and-beer fiasco -- Boston has targeted Valentine.
Despite the signs pointing to Valentine's departure, general manager Ben Cherington refused to provide any more insight Wednesday into the upcoming decision. Last week, the GM told a Boston radio station that this manager search would be much quicker than the previous year -- a damning statement -- and later tried to backpedal from it.
Cherington held court in the Red Sox dugout Wednesday afternoon, and when asked about Valentine's situation, he again deflected the questions.
"He's the manager for 2012 and the game tonight," Cherington said. "We'll start those conversations after the season."
At the end of a bumpy tenure in Boston, the last few days in New York were rough as well. Valentine crashed his bike Tuesday in Central Park, swerving off the top reservoir loop and sliding down the side to the horse path. Valentine lost control when he answered a text from Dustin Pedroia, who was informing him that his broken finger was OK to play that night.
"It wasn't a big deal," Valentine said Wednesday, "except for the side of my leg."
Valentine's thigh was scraped and bruised from the fall, but his bike was in fine shape to ride again yesterday along the Central Park side of Fifth Avenue. Valentine had a tougher time with the media at the Stadium, especially after saying during his weekly Boston radio show that he believed his coaching staff undermined him this year. Later, he didn't deny it.
"I thought I had a feeling," Valentine said. "I don't have any facts. Just a feeling once in a while that we weren't all on the same page. I don't think it was all for one, or one for all. Whatever it is."
Regrets? Valentine had a few. He wished he hadn't made those critical comments of clubhouse favorite Kevin Youkilis, which resulted in Valentine taking heat from Pedroia, among others. Youkilis was eventually traded to the White Sox, but Valentine's standing in Boston was damaged from early on.
"I didn't expect that reaction," Valentine said.
And if this is the end in Boston, as everyone anticipates it to be?
"It's a great life experience, and that's what life is," Valentine said. "Wasn't always an enjoyable experience, but it's been great. I'll look back on it and I'm sure I'll learn from it."