— Days Without Shea —

Filed under: Baseball | Ex-Mets | Mets
by Kingman on November 30 at 8:59AM
bobby valentine.jpg
Congratulations to Bobby Valentine on his new gig as manager of the Boston Red Sox.

Last year, I was one of the few Loge 13'ers who would have liked Bobby V as the 2011 Mets skipper. Terry Collins turned out to be a much better choice, based mostly on his familiarity with the young kids out of our farm system.

Valentine will bring some much needed leadership and fresh disguises to Boston. Now instead of drinking beer in the clubhouse during games, players will instead enjoy a few hands of poker.

Read more here:

For more than a century, the rivalry between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox has been the stuff of legend, filled with large personalities and fiery competitors. Now add to that caldron Bobby Valentine, one of the more colorful and controversial figures in recent New York baseball history.

Valentine was hired Tuesday by the Red Sox, the Yankees' chief rival in the American League East, to be their manager, according to a person in baseball with direct knowledge of the negotiations.

Valentine, who in six years managing the Mets taunted the Yankees and stoked a rivalry from across town, now will do so from Fenway Park. And he will do so with an expensive, talented team that many predicted would win the World Series last season before it collapsed in historic fashion.

The possibility of his managing the Red Sox was hardly considered a month ago, when the Red Sox were examining candidates who did not have Valentine's experience or charisma. But with the team in a state of upheaval, it was decided a more seasoned and engaging personality was required.

While Valentine was in Japan this week on a charity tour, Ben Cherington, the Red Sox' new general manager, extended the offer, and there was little negotiation involved, the person in baseball said. Valentine agreed, and he is expected back in the United States on Wednesday, with a news conference announcing his hiring expected to be held in the next few days.

The Red Sox needed a new manager after they declined to pick up the option on Terry Francona's contract following the bitter disappointment of last season, when the Red Sox were eliminated from playoff contention on the final day of the season after holding a nine-game lead in September.

After the season, reports emerged of pitchers' drinking beer and eating chicken in the clubhouse during games and of a general sense of tumult. Francona departed, and General Manager Theo Epstein left to become president of the Chicago Cubs. Epstein's assistant, Cherington, took over and began the search for Francona's replacement. He assembled a list of candidates that included the Brewers coach Dale Sveum, the former White Sox and Pirates manager Gene Lamont and the Blue Jays' first-base coach, Torey Lovullo.

Valentine, 61, brings to Boston the experience of more than 3,000 games managed for the Texas Rangers, the Mets and the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan.

It has been nine years since Valentine managed in major league baseball, but during his six-year tenure as the manager of the Mets, beginning at the end of the 1996 season, he set about reclaiming part of New York for the Mets and their fans. That included fueling the rivalry with the Yankees, starting with their first interleague game in 1997, when the Mets scored a surprising 6-0 victory at Yankee Stadium.

He took over a Mets team that had floundered for seven years and brought steady improvement, the pinnacle of which was the World Series in 2000.

His tenure was marked by success and controversy, as he weeded out players he did not think fit the team concept and feuded with General Manager Steve Phillips. Despite occasional flare-ups, Valentine became the first manager to lead the Mets to the playoffs in consecutive years, in 1999 and 2000.

After failing to reach the playoffs in 2001, and leading the Mets through a tumultuous season the next year, Valentine was fired. He went to Japan in 2004 and a year later led a previously moribund Chiba team to the Japan Series title. Since leaving Japan after the 2009 season, he has worked as an analyst for ESPN.

After losing out on managing opportunities with the Seattle Mariners, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cleveland Indians and the Florida Marlins in recent years, Valentine faced doubts about whether he would manage again. Instead, he landed with one of the premier teams in sports.

Cherington's first choice was Sveum, a former coach on Francona's staff, but when ownership was not impressed Sveum took the Cubs job. At that point, the search widened, and the Red Sox president, Larry Lucchino, made it clear to Cherington that he wanted Valentine included in the search.

After meeting with the three key members of the Red Sox ownership group -- Lucchino, John Henry and Tom Werner -- Valentine had an eight-hour interview with Cherington and his staff. He impressed them with his insight, passion and vast knowledge of baseball.

Cherington might have been pressured into including Valentine on his list of candidates, but during the process he was clearly impressed by Valentine.

Among the many attributes that attracted Cherington to Valentine was his wealth of experience tangling with the Yankees.

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