After A Season of Mets' Woes - Bobby Goes

Back in April, the upper echelons of the Met organization were jubilantly expressing their optimism regarding the much anticipated season ahead. When early October rolled around, they believed, the Amazin's would be at the beginning a playoff journey they hoped would end in a World Championship. Instead, following a horrendous last place finish, a season that began with so much promise has ended with Bobby Valentine getting the axe.

Bobby Valentine has been a good manager for years, with his fiery attitude and knowledge of the game. He has the tools and the skills to be, and will continue to be, one of the best managers in baseball. Just not in Flushing!

He may have been crafty enough to disguise himself in the dugout during his tenure, but he could not camouflage his teams utterly dismal record.

Was this disaster all Bobby V's fault? We all know it was not. Going into spring training last March, he had a bunch of proven veterans to count on; from Mike Piazza to Robbie Alomar to Mo Vaughn.

These players had been around the game a long time, so could anyone blame Bobby for assuming that the all the basics were covered? Teach fundamentals to a team of this caliber?

Well, we all saw what happened; it was a season of hapless, and hopeless, embarrassment. They played woefully, botching ground balls and flubbing flies. Inning after inning ended with rally killing double plays, or with no rally at all. Fundamentals were history and a mystery, and the winning ways instilled through the late 1990's were simply....forgotten.

So after two consecutive underachieving seasons, someone had to take the fall; one of them, at least one, had to go. So Bobby Valentine is now history and we sing happy trails to you, until we meet again.

The man is too good at what he does to not have a managing job in baseball, if not next season, than soon. If I could venture a guess as to the perfect place for the former Met manager, it would be Wrigley Field; a job that opened up after Bruce Kimm was fired earlier this week. The Cubs have a winning foundation for him to work with, and he would stay in the National League, where he has most recently defined himself.

Fred Wilpon, now the sole owner of the team, has to face facts. Working in the glaring spotlight of New York media, his $102 million dollar creation has just fashioned an improbable, and ugly, 75-86 last place season, while his cross-town rivals head for post-season glory yet again. This is not comforting news for the man signing the paychecks. If it was my money, I would have axed both Bobby and Steve Phillips - neither would have escaped culpability.

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, but when you cannot win you cannot stay.

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.

Love him or hate him, though, the fact remains that in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately town, Valentine did not win. Come next October, the Mets could be making a run - but a new man will be calling the shots.

Whoever it is, ya gotta believe that he'll have what it takes to bring a winning record and some much-needed stability back to Queens, the way we all wanted it to be this past year. Bobby Valentine included.

Targets On The Met Managerial Board?


This team is still a plum of a managing opportunity for anyone who gets the job. Owner Fred Wilpon stated that the search for Bobby Valentine's successor will begin immediately. Who is available and who might be a good fit for the Mets?

I. Buck Showalter - He last managed in Arizona, where in 1999 he lead the D-Backs to a 100 win season. He lost to the Mets in the dramatic NL Divisional Series involving Todd Pratt's home run. Buck is a big name that has managed in New York before (Yankees, 1992-1995) and has shown he can win.

II. Felipe Alou - He was a bench coach for the Tigers for part of the 2002 season, and with the firing of Luis Pujols Detroit could be looking for him to take the job. The question that arises, though, is why the 1994 NL Manager of the year would want to take a job with the Tigers when he has talent available in New York to win now? He is well respected around the league and might fit in the very nicely in the Met clubhouse.

III. Tom Kelly - The long-time Minnesota Twins manager has shown he knows how to win, with two World Series victories during his tenure. The 1991 AL Manager of the Year, though now retired, could possibly have an interest. He is extremely well respected and is a man who could bring a real winning approach to Flushing.

IV. Wally Backman - Considered a longshot, the former Met (who played with the team from 1980-1988) is currently managing in the White Sox organization with the AA Birmingham Barons. He lead them to an unbelievable season in which they captured the Southern League title. He could become a much-pursued man, and if the Mets are interested it doesn't hurt that he knows the Shea Stadium hallways pretty well.

Writer Christopher Guy covers the Mets and is the football guru for NYFansOnly. E-mail him at NYMetsBelieve@aol.com



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