Bobby Valentine’s imminent hiring as manager of the Boston Red Sox is the best Mets thing to happen this offseason, even better than the overdue reinstatement of Banner Day. Banner Day’s date is TBD, whereas we get Bobby Valentine right now, and by “get Bobby Valentine,” I mean every time we turn on SNY or ESPN or MLB Network, we are treated to a loop of Bobby Valentine-era Mets highlights.
To me, the entire Valentine administration was a highlight, and I’ll even accept 2002 as part of the package if it means I receive extended glances of 1997 to 2001. The denser the Bobby V rumors became, the longer the loops grew. When the dispatches beamed forth that Bobby V was the choice, he was practically video wallpaper.
Fantastic, I thought — let me watch the Mets as I knew them best and loved them most, even if that was a while ago and anything he does next he’ll be doing for someone else.
Ah, those highlights…the Mets in the hunt when they weren’t supposed to be…the Mets overcoming obstacles, whether imposed by others or themselves…the Mets as postseason regulars…the Mets not knowing from quitting…the Mets never quite ultimately triumphant but coming oh so close, making us oh so proud.
And leading the charge, turning the ignition, masterminding the process, Bobby Valentine. He wore a lot of black back then, but make no mistake: to a Mets fan thirsting for a sip of success after a half-dozen drought-laden years, he was the good guy. More than that, he was The Man. He was Bobby V, the only Mets manager I’d follow into figurative battle, maybe even a real one if I was heavily armed.
Under Bobby V’s command, I know I’d be prepared. After a few years, I might be prepared to go AWOL, but I can’t think of any skipper who wasn’t thought to have “lost the clubhouse” or “let the game pass him by” on account of time’s march. Maybe Bobby Cox, but I couldn’t stand Bobby Cox.
Bobby Cox couldn’t stand Bobby Valentine. He has company. Lots of people can’t stand Bobby Valentine. It’s sort of thrilling absorbing the complaints of his detractors. The more the detractors complain, the better he looks to me. It’s a sensation born of hearing what a lousy strategist/communicator/human being he was when he managed the Mets…managed them clear into the NLCS one year and the World Series the next. Managed them out of obscurity, he did. Managed them like every game mattered. Every game did matter when Bobby V was here. Other men have managed the Mets. Bobby V was the Mets Manager.
Aside from the late ’90s/early ’00s Mets highlights currently airing somewhere, I’m happy about this because it restores in me some semblance of faith that somebody in baseball recognizes skill and passion. The Red Sox decided they needed a new manager. They went out and hired the best one available, the one who breathed life into an American League franchise in the 1980s, a National League franchise in the 1990s and a Pacific League franchise in the 2000s. I didn’t much care what he did in Arlington or Chiba City, but I sure got a contact high off everything he did in Flushing (up to and including his press conference illustration of how marijuana “is not a performance enhancer”). Bobby argued umpires out of bad calls. He knocked down orthodoxies and played capable players with whom other managers couldn’t be bothered. He defeated alleged geniuses in three October series. He honestly made me proud to be a Mets fan. No smack talked by anybody, no matter how authentically it is come by, can shake me loose of my affection for Bobby Valentine.
The most fascinating manager the Mets ever employed is managing in the major leagues again. As long as it’s not against us, that’s a win.
Neither of us posts for days, then we both inadvertently post on the same topic at virtually the same time. Oh well, more for you guys — read Jason’s take here.