Bobby Valentine isn't interested in talking about when or if he'll make a return to the major leagues. The former New York Mets manager is perfectly happy here in Japan.
Valentine's Chiba Lotte Marines hold first place in the Pacific League, he's adored by the Lotte fans, admired by his players and is getting some of the best sushi to be had on the face of the earth. What's not to like?
On top of all that, Valentine, who is in the middle year of a three-year contract with the Marines, gets to do a lot of things over here he'd never be doing back home.
"He has a lot more control here," said former Mets outfielder Benny Agbayani, who bats cleanup for the Marines and is off to a solid start with six homers and a league-leading 37 RBIs. "He can do more with the team here than back home."
A quick visit to Chiba Marine Stadium on the outskirts of Tokyo proves the point. Valentine is everywhere.
One minute he's on top of the Lotte dugout signing autographs at the "Marine Sign Zone," the next minute he's hitting grounders to his infield just before the game.
Before the season, Valentine had a hand in designing the team's flashy new alternate uniforms and convinced Lotte management to hire a promotions manager to come up with new and creative ways to put more people in the stands.
There's even a Valentine Shrine at a nearby shopping mall where Lotte fans can rub a miniature statue of Bobby V. for good luck. The team's 2005 slogan -- "Building Our Dream" -- is written in huge gold lettering.
It's no small coincidence that Lotte's home stadium is just a few stops down the line from Tokyo Disneyland. Chiba is a fun place to be this year.
On Friday, Valentine's players presented him with a cake to celebrate his 55th birthday and everybody showed up wearing a fake nose and glasses in tribute to the infamous incident when he got thrown out of a game and returned to the dugout wearing the dubious disguise.
But when it comes to talking about the team, Valentine is all business. The Marines narrowly missed the Pacific League playoffs last year after a fourth-place finish.
The team put together a 12-game winning streak earlier this season. They've cooled off of late but with a record of 28-13, Lotte is still off to its best start in years and Valentine has the Chiba faithful thinking pennant.
"The biggest difference this season is the development of our younger players," Valentine said before Saturday's game.
APPROPRIATE RESPONSE: The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan expressed ‘sincere regret’ for publishing the image on its in-house magazine and Web site A satirical mock-up depicting the Tokyo Games logo as the novel coronavirus has been pulled from online after Olympic organizers branded it “insensitive” and said that it infringed copyright. The design combines the distinctive, spiky image of the coronavirus cell with the blue-and-white Tokyo Games logo. It appeared on the cover of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan’s magazine. The Tokyo Games have been postponed until next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left hundreds of thousands of people dead and halted sport worldwide. Club president Khaldon Azhari yesterday said that the club had decided to withdraw the image and remove
Uncertainty grips next year’s postponed Tokyo Olympic Games: Will there be fans or empty stadiums in 14 months? How will thousands of athletes, staff members and technical officials travel, be housed and stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic? And the Tokyo Games are not the only event. China, where COVID-19 was first detected, is to hold three mega-sports events in the year after the Tokyo Olympics are set to close. The World University Games in Chengdu, China, are to open, with up to 8,000 athletes, only 10 days after the Tokyo Games close. Next come the Beijing Winter Olympics beginning on Feb. 4, 2022,
When South Korea’s domestic women’s golf tour held its premier event last week — without spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic — no fewer than three of the world’s top 10 players took part. The country of 52 million people has a disproportionate share of the women’s world golf rankings, providing eight of the current top 20. In a demonstration of their prominence, South Korean women have won at least one major every season since 2010, with coronavirus cancellations perhaps the biggest threat to their run this year. The phenomenon, players and commentators have said, results from driven parents, intense training, a highly
The COVID-19 pandemic has stalled young Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas’ burgeoning career, but he remains philosophical about the tennis shutdown. The world No. 6 would have been preparing for the French Open that was originally scheduled to start this weekend, but was postponed to September. While he is missing life on the ATP Tour, Tsitsipas believes that the lockdown has given the planet a breather. “I actually think they should put us in lockdown once a year — it’s good for nature, it’s good for our planet,” Tsitsipas said in an Instagram Live conversation for At Home With Babsi on Eurosport’s Instagram page. “I