The Best of Bobby Valentine
Former Mets manager Bobby Valentine is back in the big leagues with the Boston Red Sox. He's been known to create a media buzz no matter what he's doing. Here's a look back at the best "Bobby V" moments over the years.
Compiled by Jim Mancari
EJECTED FOR BAD BREATH
In a June 1997 game, Valentine had already been out of the dugout two times to argue with umpire Mark Hirschbeck. However, a call at second base had Valentine sprinting out of the dugout once more. Valentine said he had been feeling ill all day, possibly from food poisoning and had excused himself from the dugout several times. When asked why he was ejected, he put his own spin on the situation. "I think I might have gotten a little too close to Mark after I threw up," he told Newsday. "Maybe that's why he ran me."
NEVER AFRAID TO CALL OUT HIS PLAYERS
The Mets were in a pennant race late in 1998 — carried by catcher Mike Piazza. Trailing 5-3 with two outs in the eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves, the Mets made a key base running blunder. Rookie Jay Payton tried to take third base with two outs and was thrown out by Andruw Jones by 5 feet. The problem: Piazza was in the on-deck circle. Valentine was noticeably perturbed. "Rule No. 1 is you don't make the third out at third base with Mike Piazza coming up," he told the Daily News.
IS THAT A UFO?
During a pre-game media session in the Mets’ dugout in April 1999, Valentine paused from answering questions to point out a flashing metal object in the sky.
"What do you think that thing is up there, that shiny thing?" Valentine told the Daily News. "I tell you what, I've seen a lot of planes fly over here. They fly a little quicker than that."
One of the reporters joked that it was some kind of UFO sending thought beams to the field.
"Yeah, it said, 'Keep \[Masato\] Yoshii on the right side of the rubber,'" Valentine said. "I don't know what it means. Pretty cryptic."
BOBBY V INCOGNITO
The Mets and Toronto Blue Jays were in extra innings on June 9, 1999. In the 12th inning, home plate umpire Randy Marsh called catcher's interference against Mike Piazza on a swing by Craig Grebeck. Valentine rushed out of the dugout and was promptly ejected.
An inning later, Valentine returned to the dugout in disguise: a fake mustache and dark glasses. Though fans found this amusing, MLB fined him $10,000 and suspended him for two games.
INVENTED THE WRAP SANDWICH
When the toaster broke at Bobby Valentine's Sports Gallery Café in Stamford, Conn., in 1980, Valentine didn't panic. He wrapped the components of a club sandwich in a tortilla and called it a "Club Mex." However, restaurant guests began calling it a "wrap," and thus the wrap was born.
"From that day on, they called it a wrap," Valentine told the Wall Street Journal. "People say that they never heard of a wrap before that."
Whether Valentine actually invented the wrap may never be fully known, but it's still an interesting detail in a long line of quirky Valentine stories.
THE "WHARTONGATE" SCANDAL
Early in the 2000 season, Valentine gave a lecture on the business of baseball to more than 100 students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School. After the initial presentation, Valentine fielded questions, many of which were focused on his Mets. Valentine made some controversial remarks about a few of his players and upper management. Though he asked for the video of the lecture to be destroyed, parts of his speech were leaked out.
Then-Mets general manager Steve Phillips and owner Fred Wilpon contemplated firing Valentine for his remarks but concluded the actions warranted placing Valentine on the hot seat instead. The Mets made the World Series that October.
SUPPORTS BULLPEN USAGE WITH STATS
In June 2000, Valentine was fed up with the media saying that he was over-exerting his bullpen. In a pre-game interview session, he showed four pages of stats comparing his top five relievers to their usage the previous season. His research proved that Armando Benitez, Turk Wendell and the others were used very similarly to 1999. Actually, the Mets bullpen had been used 26.1 innings more in 1999 at the same point of the season.
"There's this thing, 'Our relief pitchers are pitching too much.'" Valentine told Newsday. "It's false. It's incorrect. It's out of line. If a pitcher says it or thinks it, he's out of line. Or if a fan thinks it ... I just want to set the record straight."
CALLS OUT ESPN'S ROB DIBBLE
Valentine received heat for his handling of the Roger Clemens-Mike Piazza beaning from 2000. Two years later at Shea Stadium, he had Shawn Estes throw at Clemens, but Estes missed completely. Former Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher and ESPN baseball analyst at the time Rob Dibble said Estes should have thrown at Clemens again, even after being warned. Dibble questioned Estes' toughness, and Valentine was not too happy about this.
"Talk about unprofessional," Valentine told Newsday before the game. "I heard about \[Dibble’s\] comments, but like I said, he was one of the most unprofessional players. Here's a guy that threw bats in the stands, baseballs in the stands, fought with his manager, and most of his balls \[thrown at people\] were after home runs, not protecting teammates.
"I was in uniform with Rob Dibble in Cincinnati (as the third base coach for Davey Johnson) and he was known as anything but an enforcer," Valentine said. "But he was known for what he's known for now - a big mouth, and he's making a living out of it.”
A SYMBOL OF STRENGTH
In the days after Sept. 11, 2001, Mets players and coaches, especially Valentine, volunteered their time to aid with relief efforts. On Sept. 21, Shea Stadium hosted the first sporting event in New York after the terrorist attacks. While many players were emotional during the pre-game on-field ceremony, Valentine was smiling proudly. He said that standing tall in the face of adversity would help the nation heal its wounds.
"I wasn't going to let them \[terrorists\] see me cry," Valentine told Newsday.
IMPERSONATES A PLAYER ON MARIJUANA
Reports surfaced late in the Mets’ 2002 season that several players were smoking marijuana. Pitcher Grant Roberts was among the players named. Valentine denied a report that he had spoken to Roberts about the pitcher's drug use.
"If I told you guys I talked to Grant Roberts, maybe I was the one smoking that stuff because I don't think I ever did talk to Grant Roberts about that," Valentine told Newsday. "I'm sorry if I miscommunicated that."
Valentine and general manager Steve Phillips awkwardly apologized before the game, but Valentine had a little bit more fun. "I guarantee you no one was in uniform who had done marijuana unless they really had a lot of Visine," Valentine said.
Valentine went on to impersonate what a baseball player would look like swinging a bat if under the influence of marijuana. Reporters and cameramen chuckled, but Phillips was not amused.
BOBBY V ON SAFETY PATROL
Valentine was named public safety director in his hometown of Stamford, Conn., in January 2011, despite having no background in public safety. He would receive a $10,000 annual salary, which he said he would donate to charity. Ironically, Valentine was on an ESPN broadcasting trip in late August 2011 during Hurricane Irene. Over 300,000 Stamford residents evacuated the city. He relinquished his duties once he was named manager of the Red Sox.
BACK TO CHIBA LOTTE?
Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines before accepting the Mets’ job. But after being fired in 2002 and working for ESPN, Valentine considered a return to Japan.
At that time, the Marines reportedly made a lucrative offer to Valentine to return on a three-year deal with options for two more years. The amount of money (yen) would have been difficult for Valentine to turn down.
"It's a lot of rice," Valentine told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I could go do that, put some money in the bank and still be just 58 when I came back. It's intriguing."
A ROCK STAR IN JAPAN
The Japanese fans and media absolutely loved Valentine. In 2005, he became the first non-Japanese person to win the prestigious Shoriki Award, presented annually to someone who makes great contributions to Japanese baseball. He also became the first foreign-born manager to win the Nippon Professional Baseball World Series and is the only manager in baseball history with World Series berths in Japan and the U.S.
INCORPORATION OF THE "BUTT SMACK" IN JAPAN
A popular baseball tradition in the U.S. is for players to smack each other on the tush after making a good play. Valentine brought this tradition to Japan, but it took some time for the Japanese players to get accustomed to it.
"They don't get it at all," Valentine told The New York Times. "You know, I've never been patted on the butt by a Japanese guy. After we win a game, no one comes over and whacks me on the butt."
CRACK OPEN A "BOBEER"
After Valentine led the Chiba Lotte Marines to their first World Series title in 31 years in 2005, Japanese brewing company Sapporo introduced a new beer called "BoBeer," named after Valentine. BoBeer is a special version of Sapporo's Black Label lager that is only available in Chiba. A cartoon likeness of Valentine giving a thumbs-up and saying "We're No. 1" is featured on every can. Valentine insisted that the proceeds of BoBeer sales go straight to charity.
DANCING WITH THE STARS
There's much more to Valentine than baseball. He's actually a champion caliber ballroom dancer. He performed in the opening ceremonies of New York City's World's Fair in 1964 at the age of 14 — five years before making his professional baseball debut.
CALLS OUT JETER, A-ROD
Shortly after taking over as manager of the Boston Red Sox, Valentine immediately added to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. Early in 2012 spring training, he shared his thoughts on Derek Jeter's flip play from Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS. "I think \[Jeter\] was out of position," Valentine said. "I think the ball gets him out if \[Jeter\] doesn't touch it, personally."
But Valentine wasn't done. In speaking about recently-retired Jason Varitek's Red Sox legacy, Valentine of course brought up the catcher's fight with Alex Rodriguez in 2004. "He was able to beat up Alex, all that stuff," he said.
Just two weeks into his Red Sox managing career, Valentine made headlines by calling out one of the team's best players. In an interview with WHGH-TV, he said he didn't think Boston's third baseman Kevin Youkilis was "as physically or emotionally into the game." Youkilis was confused by these comments, since he said he always plays the game hard. Valentine publicly apologized to Youkilis, saying that he wanted the team to rally around the normally consistent third baseman. When asked if these comments were used to motivate Youkilis, Red Sox star second baseman Dustin Pedroia responded saying that "maybe that works in Japan."