Bobby Valentine has seen The Rivalry up close for decades. He grew up in Stamford, Connecticut, and recalls going to a Yankees/Red Sox doubleheader at Fenway as a boy with his father (Yankee fan) and his uncle (Red Sox fan).
I'm really excited. Six times during the season [as manager of the Mets] is a little different than 18 times during the season. ... What I enjoyed most the last couple of years at ESPN was those games, because the players take them so seriously. I think we're going to be able to match them. It might not be the best team that wins, but the team that plays the best. ... I can't imagine 18 [games]. Is it like playing 50 games? I think it is.Larry Lucchino admitted that having Valentine in the Boston dugout "does add a little bit of kerosene to the fire" of the AL East rivalry.
Valentine agreed to a two-year deal, with options for two more, and is the 45th manager in team history. At the beginning of his press conference yesterday, he seemed overwhelmed, maybe even near tears of joy.
I am honored, I'm humbled and I'm pretty damn excited. This day is a special day, and it's more than a special day. It's the beginning of a life that I think is going to extend beyond anything else that I thought of doing. The talent level and the players that we have in this organization, I think, is a gift to anyone. And I'm the receiver of that gift. ...
I'm trying to wrap my head around it, to tell you the truth. ... I tried to not engage myself in this day, because I didn't want to be heartbroken. I wanted this from the first time I heard the job was opening, and I was sitting next to Karl Ravech [at ESPN], and he said, "Maybe you can be the manager." And I said, "Uh, I don't know." I would wake up at night thinking there's a chance, then say, "Don't go there. You're going to get your heart broken." ...
Did I dream about this situation? Absolutely. Did I wake up and put water on that face whenever I had that dream and say, "Hey, come on, get back to thinking about a new fire chief [for Stamford]?" Yes I did. I'm a realist. I saw the game as it was changing and I saw it obviously getting younger and different. I didn't know that I could ever fit in. But maybe I'm going to fit in.John Henry said Valentine is
the right man at the right time for this particular team. We're set to win, we should've won last year. We're built to win. We thought, in the end, that Bobby was the person most capable of taking us to where we want to go in 2012 and 2013. We're not at a point right now where we're building for the future. We are trying to win now.GM Ben Cherington (whose voice is so much like Theo Epstein's, it's spooky; listen to the audio only):
I'm very confident that we found the right person in Bobby Valentine. When I started this process, I said we were looking for someone who cared about players, who had a strong voice, who was willing to have difficult conversations with players, who could collaborate with the front office and ownership ... someone who has a passion for the game, someone who's open-minded and someone who wants to win. Based on those criteria, I believe we found the right person in Bobby Valentine.After the press conference, Valentine sat down with ESPN's Karl Ravech.
Ravech: "Where were you when you found out this job was actually going to be offered to you?"Valentine will wear #25, formerly worn by Tony Conigliaro and Mike Lowell. Valentine and Conigliaro roomed together "for a few days" in spring training in 1976, and he wants to get the blessing of the family. He left a voice mail for Lowell, who asked "if I went to his sports bar maybe I could get some free chicken wings." That's not likely.
Valentine: "I was laying in a bed in Japan. It took one phone call and about 20 minutes to call back and say 'Thank you I accept.'"
Ravech: "What were you thinking about for 20 minutes?"
Valentine: "I had to ask my wife what she thought."
Ravech: "And if your wife said 'I'm not sure'?"
Valentine: "I would have said 'OK, well, see you later, I'm doing it anyway."
The Herald's Michael Silverman asked Valentine about his philosophy on sabermetrics (but did not use any of the answer in his article):
I think it's the most exciting growth period that I'll ever be in, to be able to experience new information and advanced metrics in my daily workplace. Now when I was in Texas, we had a sabermetrician, if you will, on staff - Craig Wright, who was a wonderfully talented Bill James disciple, actually. But at the time, I wasn't ready for it nor was, I think, the world of baseball, to actually make the numbers applicable to the day-to-day managing of the game. I tried to continue the concept through New York and in Japan, but one of the exciting parts of this situation is that I know information is available to me. And that information has to get in, it has to be digested with the other information that I get from my ears and my eyes and my experience. And hopefully, it's going to be able to regurgitate some pretty good results. But it's exciting. I think it's an every day process and I think it's going to be a learning process for me."Only" a little more than two months to Truck Day!