Wednesday, October 24, 2007

He's Not A Real Yankee, Anyway

I have to admit that I was relieved when I heard that Bobby Valentine was not going to be considered to replace Joe Torre as Yankees Manager. My fear was that, in reality, he was probably the one best equipped for the job, combining an ability to handle the spotlight, focus the pressure off his players and deal with the buffoons of the New York Media like a pro, which he did so well when he was managing the Mets. He also made the Mets fun to watch and root for again, after so many down years in the early 90s. Although by the end of his tenure with the Mets, the team had returned to a state of ineptitude, but that was more a reflection of the reactionary nature of Steve Phillips moreso than poor managing by Bobby.

So, Bobby went off to Japan, where he was before he came to the Mets in 1996, and as we all know, he has become a cult hero with the fans, managing former Mets players such as Benny Agbayani and Matt Franco, and winning the Japan series title in 2005. The only remnants of his life here is the legacy of his time with the Mets, and his restaurants dotted across Connecticut. He even has his own hamburger, his own blog, and for all I know, he could be marketing his own line of fake moustaches. And from what I'm told, he's paid like a rock star. But there's nothing comparable to managing in the Major Leagues, and he always had that out clause in his contract to return to America if the right position came along.

It almost happened in 2006, after Jim Tracy had been fired by the Dodgers. The Dodgers were Bobby's team, way back when. His roots with Dodger legend Tommy Lasorda ran deep. But the call never came.

But now, with the Yankees having essentially lowballed Torre in order to push him out the door, the whispers and the calls for Bobby returned. Don't forget how much Bobby had been reviled by the press after his firing in 2002. Many, myself included, felt he had been given a bad rap, and deserved a better fate. I'll always remember him for building the team back up, and making them respectable again, after they were nowhere. He took a team that would have been lucky to not lose 90 games in 1997 and finished 88-74. He took an outfield of Jay Payton, Benny Agbayani and Timo Perez to the World Series. He helped galvanize the city after 9/11. Bobby should be remembered as one of the most loved and revered figures in Mets history. But to see him come and manage the Yankees would have stuck in my throat. That is something I never want to see.

Yanks have little interest in Bobby Valentine [ESPN.com]

Also of note, how hilarious is it that Yankee fan #1, Iron-fisted tyrant Rudy Giuliani, is backing the Red Sox? I don't know what's funnier. That he's publicly announced it, or how badly he's being skewered by the media for saying it.

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