Bobby Valentine was done dirty by the Chiba Lotte Marines

Leave a comment

Robert Whiting wrote one of my favorite baseball books ever in You Gotta Have Wa.  Now he has the inside story of Bobby Valentine’s final days as the manager for the Chiba Lotte Marines.

On level it wasn’t personal, it was just business: the team and the
parent company was losing money and they just couldn’t justify paying
Valentine’s salary anymore. Fair enough. Happens all the time.  But the manner in which the team’s ownership went about ushering Valentine out the door was something new altogether.  It all got started when some fans didn’t take kindly to the news that the team’s owner, a man named Setoyama, wasn’t going to keep Valentine around:

Setoyama supporters within the organization, stunned
by the reaction of the fans, began a stealth smear campaign intended to
sully Valentine’s reputation. They whispered that he was taking
kickbacks from foreign players, that he had recruited one gaijin player
from a local bar, and that he had hired his own son to design new Lotte
uniforms, while collecting a hefty royalty on their sale.

They also claimed that he had sexually harassed Lotte
female employees, that he was anti-Japanese and even racist, noting he
used terms like “the f—–g Japanese way.”

The smears were untrue, and they were motivated by a desire to quell fan backlash over the team’s failure to extend Valentine’s contract and to maybe, just maybe, get Valentine to quit early and save the team some money. When some within the organization questioned whether such a strategy would work, the team’s owner was revealed to have said that “the fans are like carp, they will eat anything you feed them,” and “if we have unworthy fans like this, let’s just move our home stadium. It’s just a bunch of stupid Chiba fans anyway.”

This article is the first of a four-parter, and if the rest of the installments are this good, it’s definitely going to be a must read.  In any event, it’s the sort of thing that will put the various and sundry atrocities of the Royals and Pirates ownership in perspective.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.