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After finishing in last place for the first time in 20 years, the Boston Red Sox announced that manager Bobby Valentine (pictured here at Fenway Park on Aug. 12, 2012) would not return for the 2013 season. (Elise Amendola/AP)

With the 2012 Red Sox exiting this year’s baseball season with the same dignity and class that former presidential candidate John Edwards displayed at the end of his checkered political career, a major issue remains unresolved.

Namely, who is going to replace the much maligned Bobby Valentine as field general for the local nine?

There are no easy answers to this question. The hardball rumor mills and press box wise guys are all predicting that current Blue Jays manager and former Sox pitching coach John Farrell will be tapped to fill the post if a deal can be worked out with the Toronto front office.

But what happens if Sox CEO Larry Lucchino and his obliging hand puppet, GM Ben Cherington, are unable to accomplish this?

Would Yankees bench coach Tony Pena, ex-big league catcher Brad Ausmus, or some long-shot like veteran minor league manager DeMarlo Hale take over?

For what it’s worth, I have compiled my own list of potential candidates for the Boston dugout. They are, in no order of preference, the following:

Alex Rodriquez

The Manhattan celebrity scene may be exciting at first. But let’s face it, even narcissistic Yankee third sackers need new scenery occasionally. So why not come to Boston? Newbury Street and its glittery denizens are practically tailor made for dapper A-Rod. He could hold team meetings at Sonsie. It would definitely be a step up from the standard beer and Popeye’s chicken recent Sox teams have grown accustomed to.

Don Zimmer

I realize it’s been a few years since Zip has directed a ball team, yet who can forget all the fun and energy he brought to Beantown when he last managed here in the late 1970s. With a chaw of chewing tobacco protruding prominently from his chipmunk-sized cheek, this former Brooklyn Dodger teammate of Jackie Robinson somehow conveyed a sense of solidity and professionalism to go with a 715-411 record and an outstanding .575 winning percentage. Not even Bucky “Bleeping” Dent and his “pop fly” homer over The Green Monster during the heartbreaking 1978 playoff put a dent [no pun intended] on his otherwise glorious tenure.

Mitt Romney

This choice is contingent, of course, on whether the former Massachusetts governor loses the upcoming presidential election. Given the inmates-running-the-asylum mentality that has characterized the Boston clubhouse the past two years, he would be a no-brainer. After all, he’s already said he enjoys firing people — and who can argue that there isn’t a lot of dead wood on the 25-man roster that needs clearing out? Plus, I’m sure he has binders full of replacements at the ready. Although 47 percent of Red Sox Nation would probably be against him, I’ll bet you $10,000 he would give the job serious consideration.

Doc Rivers

I know what you’re thinking. He’s a basketball coach. A damn fine basketball coach at that. But what earns him a highly coveted spot on my list is the way he manages difficult personalities and gets the most out of those problem players. Yes, I’m talking about you, Antoine Walker and Stephon Marbury. If anyone could instill some much-needed Ubuntu in this dysfunctional clubhouse of underachievers, it’s Doc. Heck, he could even tap future NBA Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett to be his bench coach. K.G. would have no problem getting in the grills of Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz to stop their incessant whining and belly-aching. File this choice under slam dunk.

Charlie Sheen

The fallen sitcom star has some extra time on his hands these days since he left his high paying television gig at CBS for TBS. He also was a pretty fair ballplayer in high school and absolutely killed it as the loopy closer Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn in the 1989 comedy classic “Major League.” Granted he brings a lot of personal baggage with him and is a sure bet to make the Boston Herald’s Inside Track on a daily basis, but come on. At least he never reappeared in the dugout wearing a fake mustache after being ejected — or claimed to have invented the wrap sandwich. Bobby V. he is not. And that’s what I would call a “winning” formula.

Emperor Palpatine

Despite the fact that this popular Star Wars villain is a fictional character, I still think he would make a solid pick. Imagine if you will, the meddlesome and always disruptive Larry Lucchino trying to show him up in front of his players? “Unlimited power!” the evil lord of the Sith would shriek, as thunderous bolts of force-generated energy would propel poor Larry across the Charles River. As Yoda would say, “Strange are the ways of the dark side.”

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi

Because why not? The Jersey Shore reality queen’s curious stardom is proof that anything is possible.

Okay, this might not be the most serious of lists, but given the Olde Towne Team’s universally ridiculed vetting process from last off-season, it’s a distinct improvement.

In any event, my money is on Snooki. Stay tuned.

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(All photos from the Associated Press)

Tags: Red Sox

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