Valentine Announced As Lotte Manager

After a year off, Bobby Valentine is back on the bench managing baseball. In Japan for the Lotte Marines. The former Met field general from 1996 through 2002 was officially named their next manager today, returning to the Marines after he led them to a 69-58 record in 1995.

The deal is believed to be a three-year, $6.4 million contract with options for 2007 and 2008.

"This was just the right thing to do at this point in my life," the 53-year-old manager said to the Associated Press. "To feel wanted and needed is very important in life."

Valentine spent this past season as an ESPN analyst after being dismissed by the Mets on October 1, 2002. He also managed the Texas Rangers from 1985-92 and had been rumored as a potential candidate to replace Grady Little with the Boston Red Sox.

Working in the glaring spotlight of the New York media, Fred Wilpon witnessed his $102 million dollar creation fashion an improbable, and ugly, 75-86 last place finish that season.

Someone had to go.

There was much debate that both should have taken culpability instead of just one, but, nonetheless, Bobby was let go first and a few months later, in June, general manager Steve Phillips followed the same path.

Valentine spent a little over six seasons with the Metropolitans, managing 1003 regular seasons games and winning 536 of them. He was able to lead them to two playoff berths and a World Series.

"I feel confident that I have been given the freedom to guide the club using my knowledge and my philosophy," he said to the Associated Press.

During 2002, it was a season with all sorts of off-field antics, from a marijuana controversy (highlighted by Bobby acting out a player batting while under the influence), to Mike Piazza being questioned repeatedly on his sexual orientation. At one point, Valentine was even accused of trying to get fired.

His efforts on behalf of the citizens of New York after the September 11th attacks were heartwarming. The sight of him in the Shea Stadium parking lot helping to distribute food and clothing to the rescuers was simply above and beyond. What he gave to the city during that time, and still to this day, cannot be overlooked and never will.

E-mail baseball analyst Christopher Guy at

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