This Boston Globe/Nick Cafardo interview with Bobby Valentine is going to get linked and tweeted about a lot today because, buried deep inside, Valentine opines that, had he stayed with the Red Sox for 2013, he thinks he could have turned the ship around. But to the extent people play the “OMG, look at what that deluded nut Valentine said!” game, they’re being pretty unfair to the guy.
Yes, he said he thinks he could have won with the 2013 Red Sox. But that little bit is surrounded by tons of high praise for John Farrell, Ben Cherington and the players on the 2013 Red Sox team. Indeed, if anything, this is about as magnanimous and un-self-centered a set of comments Valentine will ever offer when something directly related to him comes up. Here’s the entire quote:
“I’d like to think that if I came back for my second year that, given the changes and improvements, I would have been able to do the same thing,” Valentine said. “Ben did a great job this offseason rebuilding the team. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before. Usually a team will go after one or two free agents and hope they work out. When you’re signing seven or eight guys and they all work out and blend in together as well as they did, that’s amazing to me. The entire organization should be very proud of what they did. They should take a bow. It was amazing work.”
The “blending” thing — in addition to some more direct comments earlier — is clearly Valentine’s hats-off to Farrell. The comments about Cherington and the roster makeover are clear. The bit about “if I came back …” well, what do you expect him to say? “Really, Nick, if they brought me back this season it would have been like a flaming bag of crap on someone’s front porch. I mean, we woulda stunk on ice!” Of course the guy is going to say he could have done a better job. He’s a former athlete and all-around confident person. It’d be news if the guy was suddenly defeatist.
As it is: good on Valentine for offering praise in a situation where a lot of guys may have offered it more backhandedly or, more likely, declined comment at all. If anyone is playing the “Bobby V. said something crazy!” game with this, they’re misrepresenting the man.
Yesterday TBS announced its postseason crew. Keith Olbermann will man the studio and with him will be Pedro Martinez and Tom Verducci. On merit alone that’s a solid studio team, assuming of course Pedro is as candid in his studio analysis as he is in interviews and public appearances.
But it may have been more than merit alone which led to that particular composition. Another guy is rumored to have been in the mix: Bobby Valentine. And Neil best of Newsday reports that the reason he was ultimately passed over was his recent jive about how the Yankees weren’t around in the community after 9/11 like the Mets were.
We talked about those at length a couple of weeks ago. The comments were both counterfactual and bizarre and spoke to a person with a pretty skewed and likely self-centered view of events. Neither of which are qualities that go well with a TV baseball analyst. So, whether it was 9/11 or what kind of mustache wax one should use, it makes a lot of sense that TBS went in another direction.
Yesterday Bobby Valentine decided it was appropriate to call out the Yankees for allegedly not being as out-in-the-community as the Mets were following the 9/11 attacks. Later in the day Yankees president Randy Levine fired back, as reported at ESPN New York:
“Bobby Valentine should know better than to be pointing fingers on a day like today. Today is a day of reflection and prayer. The Yankees, as has been well documented, visited Ground Zero, the Armory, the Javits Center, St. Vincent’s Hospital and many other places during that time. We continue to honor the 9/11 victims and responders. On this day, he would have been better to have kept his thoughts to himself rather than seeking credit, which is very sad to me.”
This morning Bobby V. was on the Erik Kuselias show on the NBC Radio Network. He is not backing down. He responded to Levine’s comments thusly:
For those of you who can’t play the audio:
OK. I have no idea what Valentine is trying to prove here. No one has made any attempt whatsoever to undersell or criticize anything he or the Mets did after 9/11. No one to my knowledge has attempted to aggrandize what the Yankees did at the Mets expense. That Valentine thinks it’s necessary, 12 years later, to play this game is a mystery. He should drop it.
This interview with Bobby Valentine on WFAN about remembering the scene in baseball post-9/11 has many interesting bits. As you may expect, given that he was the manager of the New York Mets at the time and the Mets played center stage in baseball following the 9/11 attacks. The first game. The big Piazza home run. The New York connections of many on the roster like John Franco, which in turn led to a lot of touching moments and meaningful gestures.
Which is all fine, but it turns a bit unseemly when Valentine turns to credit-taking. Indeed, he seems to want to make it clear that the Yankees were not as important to New York as the Mets in those days after 9/11:
“Let it be said that during the time from 9/11 to 9/21, the Yankees were (not around),” Valentine told Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Wednesday. “You couldn’t find a Yankee on the streets of New York City. You couldn’t find a Yankee down at Ground Zero, talking to the guys who were working 24/7.”
He added: “Many of them didn’t live here, and so it wasn’t their fault. And many of them did not partake in all that, so there was some of that jealousy going around. Like, ‘Why are we so tired? Why are we wasted? Why have we been to the funerals and the firehouses, and the Yankees are getting all the credit for bringing baseball back?’ And I said ‘This isn’t about credit, guys. This is about doing the right thing.’”
No, it wasn’t about credit then, Bobby V. says. But boy howdy it is now, apparently. All of which: (a) seems really petty; and (b) seems, if my memory is serving me, pretty counterfactual too. Yankees players were out in the city after 9/11 too.
Not sure what Valentine’s aim is here, but he seems to be, as he so often does, making whatever topic is in front of him about Bobby Valentine.