"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: bobby valentine

We’re in a Tight Spot

Oh, Bobby, Where Art Thou?

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

Perfect Day for the Bomb Squad

This past Thursday the wife and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. We got married, just the two of us, in the Bahamas. After the ceremony and the pictures, we returned to our hotel room. It was a Thursday afternoon. The wife went into the bathroom to wash up and I clicked the TV on and saw on the ESPN ticker that the Yankees were losing to the Indians. I turned the TV off and after the wife and I consummated the marriage we later turned the TV back on and saw that the Yanks had won, and that Alex Rodriguez hit a game-ending grand slam.

This afternoon the wife and I went downtown to enjoy massages. I e-mailed a Red Sox pal of mine and predicted one thing–that Freddy Garcia would get his tits lit, which was precisely what happened. I saw that the Sox scored twice in the first on my phone just as we arrived at the spa. Bad enough there was troubling news about Michael Pineda before the game. Dammit. I turned the phone off and didn’t turn it back on until we left a good while later. Score was 9-5. Swisher had just hit a grand slam after the Yanks trailed 9-0. Predictable, I thought. Well, at least they are making it respectable.

Little did I know that the White Sox pitcher Phillip–Don’t Call Me Humbert–Humber was on his way to completing a perfect game against the Mariners in Seattle. The Yanks were down 9-1 in the 7th, with one out and Russell Martin on first when Fox cut away to the White Sox game. By the time Humber had his perfecto and was interviewed for TV and Fox returned to Boston, Swisher’s grand slam got the Yanks back in the game. Runners were on the corners and Mark Teixeira was at the plate. Joe Buck and Tim McCarver were excited. Tex already had a solo homer and now, batting left-handed, he popped a three-run dinger over the Green Monster. Most of the damage was not televised.


The score stood at 9-8 when the wife and I got to the restaurant for dinner. The game was on the TV at the bar and so I stayed at the bar, with the wife’s blessing–she sat in our booth following on the phone–as we waited for our food. That’s where I saw the Yanks take the lead. And then some. The Bombers scored 7 in the 7th and 7 more in the 8th on their way to a ball-busting win that will not soon be forgotten. Games like this, even in April, are memorable. It was a rousing win for the Yanks and a punch-in-the-face loss for the Sox, “rock bottom,” according to Bobby Valentine.

Final Score: Yanks 15, Sox 9.

I couldn’t think of a sweeter anniversary gift from the so-called Baseball Gods.

Thank you. And the wife thanks you, too.


 [Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin/N.Y. Daily News]

Same As it Ever Was

The Sox won three straight over the Rays this past weekend but where there is Bobby there is mishegoss.

What’s Poppin’?

According to this piece by David Waldstein in the New York Times, Freddy Garcia would like to pitch for the Yankees but would consider a trade.

And Bobby V got his panties in a bunch last night. I assume they will be bunched for the rest of the season, especially when the Yankees are involved.

Some bad news. According to a tweet by Jack Curry: Joba Chamberlain dislocated right ankle yesterday and had surgery last night. Cashman called it a significant injury.”

[Painting of Fab Five Freddy by Jane Dickson]

Camp Bobby

Here’s an ESPN report from the Red Sox training camp:

“When I look at the program we devised, I don’t think of it as tough. But it seems it’s different because a lot of people are frowning. I just asked them to give (it) a few days,” Valentine said, according to The Boston Globe.

“We all know that nobody likes change except for those who are making other people change to do what they want them to do. I happen to be one of those guys who likes change because guys are doing what I want them to do,” Valentine said, according to the report. “I would bet there will be 100 guys who won’t really like it because it’s change for them. But they’ll get used to it.”

…”Everyone says (spring training) is too long. I think that’s baloney,” Valentine said. “To get guys really ready, I think everyone’s working the deadline to get a starter with 30 innings and five (starts). The numbers just don’t compute.”

Ten Hut.

The Straw that Stirs the Hub

Guest Post

By Alex Salta (aka Raging Tartabull)

In the years since 2003 it’s become a popular myth that the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry has always been and will always be some kind of Baseball Forever War. Fans of both teams know better–“The Rivalry” has always had its peaks and valleys, and ever since Manny Ramirez of took his talents to Chavez Ravine we’ve been in a punchless valley .

This rivalry needed a jolt to the system and just got one in the form of one of the most volatile managers this side of Billy Martin. Bobby Valentine was only 35 when he started to make his bones as a major league manager in Texas, guiding bad Rangers teams to decent records in a division dominated by the Bash Brothers A’s. Then, after a brief stopover in Japan, he took good but flawed Mets teams to the playoffs back-to-back years losing in the NLCS and one of the best damn 5 game World Series you’ll likely see.

Valentine always had a little Billy in him. The undeniable tactical acumen, the chip on the shoulder, the paranoia that “they” would take it all away from him if given the chance, the charm and the spite. Anytime you steer a team where Jay Payton and Benny Agbayani are daily outfield fixtures to a pennant, it goes a long way to proving you are more than capable as a manager. Conversely, his years-long public feud with former GM Steve Phillips showed that both men knew how to hold a grudge with the best of them.

He could manage his ass off, and he would make sure you knew about it too. This is a man who once referred to the Mets managerial job as “the highest place in any job in the country, in the world, the thing that I live and breathe and die for every second of my life.” Comments like that either suggest tremendous commitment to the New York Mets, or tremendous commitment to promoting the brand of Bobby Valentine, Inc. What side do you think Fred Wilpon felt it landed on? A month after saying it, Valentine was on his way out the door at Shea.

Like Martin, Valentine knew what it was like to climb to the top of the heap in New York and still feel like you weren’t getting enough credit for it. Billy had Reggie and George, Bobby had Steve Phillips and Saint Joe.

Valentine managed the Mets from 1996 through 2002, the exact timeframe when Joe Torre convinced the town that could turn Bigelow Green Tea into wine; Valentine could never hope to be anything more than second banana, content with whatever scraps of media adoration were left over after the latest Yankee victory.

And Valentine was not one to be content with scraps. Mets fans could tell you that; hell everyone from Phillips to George W. Bush can co-sign that one.

Eventually, it all fell apart in a cloud of bizarre press conferences and whatever Tony Tarasco and Mark Corey had in that limo. The Bobby Act had grown tired in Flushing, someone needed Art Howe to come along and light up a room for a change. Bobby eventually packed his bags for the Far East and joined Buck Showalter in the “Managers Everyone Loves When They Aren’t Actually Managing” Club.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox spent the next decade turning themselves into a latter-day version of that Yankee team with tough pitching, long at-bats, and a manager that columnists loved to compare to some kind of mix between John McGraw and Jonas Salk.

Yankees vs. Red Sox became the dominant baseball storyline of the mid-aughts. It got ratings, it sold papers, kept the chatrooms and blogs humming. Still, the rivalry couldn’t sustain the fevered pitch indefinitely. The games between the two teams got longer and longer, the intensity unmistakably lower, and the atmosphere became almost dull.

Then came September 2011 and the grand collapse in Boston, blown saves and extra crispy thighs for all. The Sox got tired of Francona’s “Keep Calm and Win Ninety” style, Prince Theo left town and took his glow with him. The Red Sox needed someone new to come along and light up the room. They–and that “they” is Larry Lucchino–decided Valentine was their man.

Well now he’s back center stage, in a town where he isn’t going to have any trouble finding attention. He’ll manage against the Yankees 18 times next year, and the Joe in the other dugout may be hugely successful in his own right but no one is nominating him for sainthood either. No, it will probably be Bobby who is center stage for those 18 games. Don’t believe it? Just ask him.

Alex Salta is a New York-based writer, he can be reached at alex.salta@gmail.com.

For more on Bobby V:

Andrew Cohen in the Atlantic

Steven Goldman at Baseball Prospectus

Jonah Keri at Grantland

Here Comes Bobby V

The new manager of the Red Sox. Won’t be dull, that’s for sure.

Le Grand Fromage

Bobby V and the Red Sox? Oh, man, it’s just too good not to happen. Sensitive, bright, smug, insufferable, and just this side of self-parody–they are made for each other. Bobby V will make it even easier to despise the Sox.

Imagine Buck Showalter vs. Bobby? Then add dd Joe Girardi’s tight ass? Never mind Joe Maddon. That’s a lot of gamesmanship from the top step of the dugout in the AL East. Oh, man, for pure entertainment value, this will be rich if it happens. And it looks like it will.

For more on Bobby V, check out Chris Ballard’s 2007 SI profile.

[Photo Credit: Greenwich Time.com]

Three Men and a Broadcast

"Mem'ries, like the corners of my mind..."

I missed it in all the hubbub about Brian Cashman’s holiday festiveness/long-awaited mental breakdown, but ESPN announced its replacements for Joe Morgan and Jon Miller yesterday: Bobby Valentine, Dan Shulman, and Orel Hershiser. As, you’ll recall, no fan of Morgan, I am cautiously optimistic.

I was impressed by Hershiser’s work in the shadow of Miller and Morgan last year; I thought that he brought some good solid analysis to the table, and with considerably less bluster than his co-hosts. As for Shulman, I know I must have watched games he’s called before, but I can’t really recall any distinct impressions of the man. Quick Googling reveals that he wears glasses and is Canadian, so clearly we can assume he’s smart and reasonable.

Meanwhile, my fondness for Bobby V turned to pure love the moment he pulled his Groucho glasses stunt, and what I read about his time in Japan a few years ago just reinforced that. Not to mention that, according to him, he invented the wrap sandwich, which should probably put him in the Hall of Fame just by itself. My only concern is that Valentine will dial it down too much on national TV – he never got too wacky or inventive on Baseball Tonight last year, holding back the full force of his personality. But if he can relax and let himself cut loose on camera, he’ll be great, a natural performer.

I only wish I had time to whip up a photoshop image of Shulman, Valentine, and Hershiser’s heads transferred onto the bodies of Ted Danson, Tom Selleck, and Steve Guttenberg. Get on that, please, internet.

Back in Business?

When I was a kid my old man briefly worked for SNL as a unit production manager. He went to spring training one year (must have been ’78 or ’79) to shoot a segment that became famous as the “baseball been berry, berry good to me” routine. I didn’t know about that at the time, only that he was going to spring training. Too bad he was going to see the Mets not the Yankees.

My disappointment continued when he returned home and I peppered him with questions about the players. The Old Man didn’t much care for jocks, with few exceptions, so they didn’t make any impression. Except for one.

“Who was your favorite, Dad?”

He didn’t hesitate. “Bobby Valentine.”

Bobby Val–wait, who? This scrub?

Many years later, when Valentine became a manager, I grew to appreciate him as one of the game’s great characters. He’s full of himself, sure, but in a way that is endlessly amusing to me. I understood what my old man must have seen him him–the charisma, the intelligence, the arrogance. Anyhow, as much as I like watching Bobby V on ESPN, I can’t wait for him to get back in the game and stir it up.

Florida, you say? Sounds good to me.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver