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Bobby Valentine/Marines Breakout Ex-Met Thread

Jun 22 2005 09:19 PM

Bobby Valentine is Hot...from the Sports Illustrated "Who's Hot, Who's Not" section..

Skipper's Chiba Lotte Marines are leading the Japan League,behind ex-Mets Benny Agbayani and Matt Franco.And the Chief is being hailed-the marching band from Valentines alma mater, USC, was to play at Chiba Marine Stadium this week.Meantime the Mets who played .534 ball in Valentines seven seasons have been at .434 since he was let go in 2002.

Go Bobby..

Jul 24 2005 04:05 PM

Sapporo presents [url=]Bobeer[/url], featuring our very own Bobby V. This was the only news link I could find quickly; I can't find anything on the Sapporo Japan site.

Someone go to Chiba to buy Bobeer for the pool NOW!!!

Jul 27 2005 11:49 AM

Bobby V will apparently star in his own reality show ESPN the Mag reports, the same piece had the bit about BoBeer aswel.

Nomo to sign with the MFY.

Bobby's team are 4.5 games out in the Pacific league,57 - 32 with two tied games,how do tied games work in Japan?

thnaks for the link seawolf.

Oct 14 2005 08:09 AM

A great thing is happening in Japan for a trio of former Mets,Chiba Lotte Marines are a win away form becoming Pacific League pennent winners and going to the Japan Series, first time in 31 years.

]Marines edge closer to Japan Series trip

FUKUOKA (AP) Bobby Valentine has his Chiba Lotte Marines one win away from a trip to the Japan Series.

Softbank outfielder Jolbert Cabrera smacks a solo homer into the left-field bleachers off Chiba Lotte starter Naoyuki Shimizu to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning in Game 2 of the Pacific League playoff second stage at Fukuoka Yahoo Dome on Thursday night. The Marines won 3-2.

Matt Franco delivered the key hit Thursday and starter Naoyuki Shimizu went seven strong innings as the Marines defeated the Softbank Hawks 3-2 at Yahoo Dome to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the Pacific League's best-of-five second-stage playoffs.

Jolbert Cabrera gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when he connected for a solo homer off a Shimizu breaking ball into the left-field stands.

But the lead didn't last long.

Franco connected off Softbank starter Kazumi Saito with a bases-loaded double to left in the sixth that scored a pair of runs and gave the Marines a 2-1 lead. Benny Agbayani, the hero of Wednesday's 4-2 win, made it 3-1 with a ground out that scored the runner from third.

Valentine, who is in the second year of a three-year contract as manager of the Marines, has made all the right moves in the first two games. The former New York Mets manager moved Franco up in the order for Thursday's game and the move paid off.

Softbank's Munenori Kawasaki pulled the Hawks to within one run on a leadoff solo homer in the bottom of the sixth, but the Hawks couldn't close the gap and now have to win three games in a row to advance to the Japan Series, which starts on Oct. 22 against the Central League champion Hanshin Tigers.

Shimizu, who went 10-11 in the regular season, struck out six and gave up two runs on four hits for the win. The Marines, who defeated the Seibu Lions 2-0 in the first stage playoffs, have now won four in a row and can book a spot in the championship with a win over Softbank on Saturday at Yahoo Dome.

Closer Masahide Kobayashi retired the side in the ninth for the save.

"My fastball was working tonight and I just tried to be as aggressive as possible," said Shimizu. "We knew if we won this game it would really put a lot of the pressure on them."

Saito, 16-1 in the regular season, took the loss after giving up three runs on five hits over six innings.

The Hawks, who finished the regular season 4 1/2 games ahead of the Marines in the standings and had a two-week layoff before Wednesday's game, continued to look sluggish.

Nobuhiko Matsunaka, who had a Pacific League-leading 46 homers in the regular season, has yet to produce a hit in two games and hit a deep fly to center to end Thursday's game. Cleanup hitters Julio Zuleta and Tony Batista were also hitless in Game 2.

Lotte is making its first postseason appearance since 1974 when they were known as the Lotte Orions. The Hawks won the Japan Series in 1999 and 2003.

The Japan Times: Oct. 14, 2005
(C) All rights reserved

Edgy DC
Oct 14 2005 11:04 AM

Great for Bobby.

[url=][u:885abb69cf]Royals name Bob McClure Pitching Coach[/url][/u:885abb69cf]

That breaks a bias. Do former releivers ever get to the bigs as pitching coaches?

Benjamin Grimm
Oct 14 2005 11:06 AM

Dave Righetti. But he spent a good chunk of time as a starter, too.

Oct 14 2005 11:28 AM

I was curious if any other Mets were on Bobby V's team and so I dug around the internet for a roster. And then I find Benny Agbayani's stats for 2004:

.315, 35 HR, 100 RBI, 1.043 OPS


Satoru Komiyama is also on Bobby V's team.

I also found stats for some other familiar names:

Dae Sung Koo in 2004:

6-10, 4.32 ERA.

Dicky Gonzalez in 2004:

4-2, 3.09 ERA.

Mike Kinkade in 2004:

.233, 3 HR, 7 RBI.

Alex Ochoa in 2004:

.294, 21 HR, 89 RBI.

Ed Yarnall (Remember the Mike Piazza trade?) in 2002:

6-13, 3.61 ERA.

Shingo Takatsu's career stats in Japan (13 seasons):

260 saves (all-time saves leader), 3.13 ERA, 545 K's and 233 BBs in 695.1 innings.

Kaz Ishii in Japan (10 seasons):

78-46, 3.38 ERA, 1277 K's and 612 BBs in 1184.1 innings.

And here are Kaz Matsui's stats:

2002: .332, 36 HR, 87 RBI, 33 SB, 11 CS.
2003: .305, 33 HR, 84 RBI, 13 SB, 10 CS.

Looks like Masato Yoshii returned to Japan. He's 40 years old now! It appears that he retired following the 2004 season.

Takashi Kashiwada returned to Japan and became a set-up man.

Oct 15 2005 09:52 PM

The Chiba Lotte Marines lost Saturday to the Softbank Hawks, Bobby V's Mariners were up 4 - 0 to Sadaharu Oh's Hawks only to have the closer Masahide Kobayashi blow it, he gave up four runs in the bottem of the ninth, Tony Batista scored the wining run in the 10th inning, the Hawks were facing elimination.

Here's a decent article in today's Tokyo Times about Chiba Lotte, Bobby V is the best....

]Revitalized Chiba Lotte franchise alive and well in Makuhari


Most Japanese fans of Major League Baseball are pulling for a Chicago-St. Louis World Series, hoping to see a match-up of the "Guchi Brothers," former Japan Pacific League rivals Tadahito Iguchi of the White Sox and So Taguchi of the Cardinals.
I have to say I am in line with that, especially on the American League side where I still have a problem with the name Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

You may recall I mentioned in a column last fall how much I disliked that designation after the then-Anaheim Angels decided to include names of the two cities in their designation.

I even got a supportive followup e-mail from an Anaheim city official expressing his understandable displeasure with the change.

Most of the time now, Anaheim is not even mentioned when someone talks about the team. It's simply the Los Angeles Angels, and that's a lot better than the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

I still don't like that. Go, Sox!

Meanwhile, the focus in Japan has been on the exciting Pacific League Stage 2 Playoffs between Bobby Valentine's Chiba Lotte Marines of Makuhari and Sadaharu Oh's Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Momochi (see how silly that sounds?), and let us take a moment here for a few words about the Marines and how far the team has come since 1994, when that franchise was deader than the proverbial doornail.

No one went to watch them play in Chiba or anywhere else, no one wanted to manage them (until Bobby Valentine came along), and the team had deservedly acquired the label of a perennial loser after 13 consecutive finishes in the Pa League second division.

They wore those sissy-looking white uniforms with pink lettering, and I still remember Mel Hall, one of the foreign players on the 1994 Lotte club, telling me, "We just don't look fearsome out there in pink and white."

Hall was right; they were anything but fearsome.

Look at the Marines now. You just can't say enough about what Valentine and his staff have accomplished, mostly in the past two seasons, but the program is one Bobby really started 10 years ago when he breathed some life into the organization and set it on the right course.

Today's CLM roster is packed deep with quality players, featuring a batting lineup of power, speed and clutch hitting.

The defense has been superb, especially in the Oct. 8-9 PL Playoff Stage 1 series against the Seibu Lions, and having four starters win in double figures, excellent set-up men and the league-leading closer, makes the Lotte mound staff one of the best in the world.

It is a pleasure now going to games at Marine Stadium, despite the long, long transfer from the JR Chuo Line to the Keiyo Line I need to make at Tokyo Station and the long, long walk from Kaihin Makuhari Station to the ballpark.

That second trek can be eliminated, though, by taking one of the convenient shuttle buses decorated with the Marines logo and pinstripes and the catch phrase, "MARINES IS MY LIFE." But I can use the exercise.

On the way into the stadium, you can pick up a program and scorecard, just like at a major league game in North America, for only 100, yen and let me tell you about the "White Stadium" posters promoting the Seibu series.

There were three, depicting a brilliant idea of mixing the past and present, yesterday and today, throw-back and right-now.

One features Valentine matching "guts poses" with Masaichi Kaneda, manager of the last Lotte Japan Series champion team in 1974.

Kaneda is wearing the uniform of the old Lotte Orions. A second poster has four current Marines hitters in batting poses, along with Michiyo ("Mr. Lotte") Arito, the third baseman and star of the 1974 Orions.

The third one shows four 2005 Lotte pitchers throwing in front of Choji Murata, ace hurler on that Orions club that defeated the Chunichi Dragons four games to two in the Japan Series 31 -- yep, 31 -- years ago, when Lotte was a homeless "gypsy" team playing "home" games all over Japan.

Hey, are those posters for sale?

Collector's items they are, for sure.

Perhaps most impressive, though, is No. 26, the Marines cheering section that backs the 25 players on the bench, unfurls a huge banner at the start of each game and makes lots and lots of noise to keep the heroes motivated.

Former Brooklyn Dodgers (1944-1953) pitcher Ralph Branca watched at Chiba as Lotte eliminated Seibu and said the Marines fans are even more excited than the Flatbush faithful he remembers 52 --yep, 52 -- years ago.

"I thought the Brooklyn fans were the greatest," said Branca. "But I've never seen anything like this."

Branca, 79, was here to support the Marines whose manager is his son-in-law, Bobby Valentine. Branca said he has to leave prior to the start of the Japan Series, and that's too bad.

Can you imagine a bleacher battle between the Chiba rooters and Hanshin Tigers supporters?

Remind me to look for my ear plugs.

And to think a little more than a year ago, when Japanese baseball club owners were looking for two teams to form a second merger after Kintetsu-Orix, and one of the combinations being suggested was an amalgamation of the Marines and the Hawks.

Aren't we all happy that did not occur?

The future looks bright for Lotte, too.

The Marines' Eastern League farmhands defeated the Hanshin Tigers' Western League boys in Japan's minor league championship game on Oct. 8, and Valentine praised the job done by the Marines second-team skipper, former California League manager Hide Koga.

Make no mistake about it. The Lotte franchise, once dead, is alive and well.

Contact Wayne Graczyk at:

The Japan Times: Oct. 16, 2005
(C) All rights reserved

Oct 16 2005 07:34 AM

Thanks for the update Irish.

What is the status of the series? How many wins do the Hawks have?

Oct 16 2005 01:01 PM

OK from what I can find they played again Sunday and the Hawks won 3 - 2 so the sereis is tied at 2, they play again tonight which is Monday in Japan...

]Jim Allen Daily Yomiuri Sportswriter

The Fukuoka Softbank Hawks are alive, kicking and just a tie game away from clinching their fourth Pacific League title in seven seasons.

Julio Zuleta homered twice and drove in all his team's runs on Sunday as the Hawks beat the Chiba Lotte Marines 3-2 to tie the second stage of the PL playoffs at two games apiece.

"One-run games will kill you, but they are crowd-pleasers," Softbank skipper Sadaharu Oh said.

As the top seeds, the Hawks can wrap up the pennant here tonight with a win or a 12-inning tie, while a Marines victory will send Lotte to its first pennant in 31 years.

"Now there is nothing to do but win, we do that, we move on, lose and we go home," Oh said.

Trailing by a run in the bottom of the fourth, Zuleta hit his second homer of the game, a two-run shot off Marines right-hander Hiroyuki Kobayashi, who worked eight innings to take the loss.

"He was throwing a lot of junk, but if you pay attention to the game, all his junk was out of the zone," Zuleta said. "He surprised guys with his fastball, but I knew sooner or later he's going to come with his fastball--and I hit it out of the park."

Like most of the Hawks, Zuleta struggled to get his timing at the plate after a 13-day layoff between the end of the regular season on Sept. 28 and the start of the second stage on Oct. 12.

But instead of hitting the ball, two straight losses had the Hawks on the verge of hitting the road--until a dramatic come-from-behind victory in Game 3.

In Game 2, Zuleta just missed a pair of high fastballs that would have had a high-probability of reaching the stands.

"If my timing is good, like yesterday and today, those balls should be home runs," he said.

Hawks southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada made the earliest exit of any Hawks starter in the series--after just 78 pitches in four innings, making him the only Softbank starter to avoid suffering a late-inning meltdown.

Oh said he made the unusually quick hook not because he had left his first three starters in the game too long but because Wada had felt some discomfort in his left elbow earlier in the week.

"Because of that, his control was poor," Oh said. "If he was healthy I would have left him in."

Oh brought in rookie Hideaki Takahashi in the fifth, but the side-arm right-hander surrendered a leadoff single and hit the next man.

With no outs and the tying run on second, Oh showed rare speed in turning to middle reliever Shintaro Yoshitake, and the right-hander held off the Marines single-handed.

The pitcher pounced on a bunt in front of the mound, wheeled like a gyro and got the force at third base.

"Anyone but Yoshitake, and that runner is on third with a sacrifice," Oh said of his savior, who then got two quick outs to stall the Marines short of their objective.

The right-hander, who gave up the game-winning hit in the Hawks' 4-2 defeat in Game 1, allowed one hit in 2-2/3 scoreless innings for the win.

"They hit me before, but tonight was just like any other night."

The Marines got on the board in the first in a series of excellent at-bats in which Wada had an 0-2 count on each of the first five hitters.

Benny Agbayani broke the ice by singling in Tsuyoshi Nishioka with two outs. Nishioka, the league stolen base champ, did a workmanlike job to draw a leadoff walk and then stole the first of his two bases.

With one out and runners on the corners, the Hawks got some help in the inning from first base umpire Masao Yanada. Oh gave the ump an earful for a close call at first that gave Kazuya Fukuura an infield single, and Yanada wasted no time getting back in Oh's good graces--ringing the next batter out on something almost resembling a swing.

The ump chipped in again in the ninth, by punching out Toshiaki Imae after Oh personally went to the plate to ask the home plate ump to appeal to Yanada.

"My catcher [Naoki] Matoba forgot to ask, so I went and did it," Oh said.

After Zuleta opened the Softbank account in the second, the Marines recaptured the high ground in the fourth on Tomoya Satozaki's second solo homer of the series.

The visitors' second lead, however, had an even shorter shelf-life than their first. Kobayashi walked struggling cleanup hitter Nobuhiko Matsunaka to leadoff the bottom of the fourth and Zuleta homered to right to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead.

Matsunaka, hands down the best hitter in the league, has been zero at the plate for the second straight postseason, but Kobayashi gave him little in the zone and his run made the difference.

It was the seventh home run allowed by the Marines in 48-1/3 postseason innings but the first to go out with a runner on base.

Kobayashi finally got Zuleta out in the sixth, when left fielder Agbayani made an excellent sliding catch on a rocket headed for the corner.

A strong play by third baseman Imae opened the frame to help make it a 1-2-3 inning. But with the Hawks' bullpen in complete control of the game, the Marines' classy fielding was little more than a valiant but futile rearguard action.

Southpaw Koji Mise came on to get the final out of the seventh, and closer Takahiro Mahara pitched the final 1-2/3 innings for the save.

"It is hard to explain how excited I am," Zuleta said. "We were down two games, and now we have our second win in a row. We have momentum now and we will try to win the Pacific League tomorrow.

"It will be a great game."

(Oct. 17, 2005)

Oct 16 2005 01:27 PM

So tonight's game is for all the marbles.

Go Marines!

Oct 17 2005 07:43 AM

Chiba Lotte won and are going to the Japan series...

]Valentine's Lotte Marines reach Japan Series

Tomoya Satozaki doubled in a pair of runs in the top of the eighth inning at Yahoo Dome on Monday as the Marines defeated the Softbank Hawks 3-2 in Game 5 of the Pacific League's second stage playoffs to advance to the Japan Series, where they will face the Central League champion Hanshin Tigers.

"I don't think either team should have lost," said Valentine. "The Hawks are a great team and the Marines are a great team, and I congratulate everyone in the organization."

The Marines, who last played in the Japan Series in 1974 when they were known as the Lotte Orions, will open the best-of-seven championship on Saturday at Chiba Marine Stadium.

Satozaki came through with the big hit in Monday's deciding game. Pinch-hitter Kiyoshi Hatsushiba reached first on an infield single to third that was misplayed by Tony Batista, Kazuya Fukuura singled to right and Satozaki doubled off the wall in left to score both runners.

"We won it with a lot of guts," said Valentine. "We were behind in this game and came back. Hatsushiba led it off with a hit and Satozaki had a huge hit for us."

Kazuya Fukuura drove in Lotte's first run of the game in the top of the sixth with a double to left-center that scored Tsuyoshi Nishioka from second to make it 2-1.

Soichi Fujita recorded an out in the seventh for the win and Masahide Kobayashi, who blew a four-run lead in the ninth inning of Saturday's 5-4 loss, worked the ninth inning for the save despite giving up a leadoff walk to Naoyuki Omura.

"The third game was a heartbreaker for us," said Valentine. "And the guy whose heart was broke the most _ Kobayashi _ was out there tonight for the save."

Nobuhiko Matsunaka, who had a league-leading 46 homers in the regular season, picked up his first hit of the series with an opposite field single to left in the third inning that gave Softbank a 2-0 lead.

The Hawks got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second.

Julio Zuleta walked and then advanced to third on a double to left by Jolbert Cabrera before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Yusuke Torigoe.

The Marines, once a perennial Pacific League doormat, have made rapid progress since Valentine returned for his second stint with the club.

They just missed the playoffs last season and challenged the Hawks this year for first place in the standings, finishing just 4-1/2 games back of Softbank.

Valentine, who is in the second year of a three-year contract, is a fan favorite at Chiba Marine Stadium. He was mobbed by his players after Monday's win and tossed in the air.

The Marines cruised past the defending Japan Series champion Seibu Lions in the first-stage playoffs and won the first two games of this series.

Valentine, meanwhile, becomes the first foreign manager of a Japanese team to reach the Japan Series since Hawaiian Wally Yonamine did so in 1974 with the Chunichi Dragons, who lost to the Orions in six games.

The Marines finished first in interleague play in May and June when they also held first place in the Pacific League standings.

They got solid pitching performances from submariner Shunsuke Watanabe (15-4), rookie Yasutomo Kubo (10-3) and Hiroyuki Kobayashi (12-6). South Korean slugger Lee Seung Yeop led the team with 30 homers. (AP)

October 17, 2005

Bobby V gets tossed in the air...congrats to Bobby and Chiba Lotte.

Oct 17 2005 09:12 AM

That's different from being soaked with Gatorade!

Congratulations to Bobby! Go Marines!

Oct 17 2005 09:44 AM

Bobby V! You are awesome.

Oct 17 2005 09:55 AM

Here's another pic of Bobby V:

Edgy DC
Oct 21 2005 08:01 AM

Rusty Staub, happy for the good peeps of Houston.

Bobby Valentine, in championship mode.

Oct 22 2005 01:33 PM

One down, three to go!

Baseball: Imae leads Marines' 15-hit attack in Japan Series

.c Kyodo News Service

CHIBA, Japan, Oct. 22 (Kyodo) - (EDS: ADDING DETAILS)

Toshiaki Imae homered and went 4-for-4 and drove in two key runs while Tomoya Satozaki, Lee Seung Yeop and Benny Agbayani all went deep as the Lotte Marines clobbered the Hanshin Tigers 10-1 in Game 1 of the Japan Series on Saturday.

For the first time in the history of the Japan Series, a game was called due to a dense fog, which descended on the ballpark making it virtually impossible to continue play with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning.

''It was a great win and too bad we didn't get to play nine innings. The guys came out swinging and Shimizu Naoyuki was fantastic,'' said Lotte manager Bobby Valentine.

Imae opened the scoring with a first-inning solo homer over the left-center fence and hit a go-ahead double to right in a three-run fifth off Kei Igawa (0-1) at Chiba Marine Stadium.

''It was good to drive in another run right after we gave up a tying run in the top of the inning,'' Imae said of the go-ahead double.

The 22-year-old third baseman became the 13th player to hit a home run in his first Japan Series plate appearance and the only player to ever have four hits in his first Japan Series game. His four hits also matched a series record for most hits by a player in a game.

Shimizu (1-0) held Hanshin to one run and five hits in seven innings, struck out six and walked one. The right-hander settled down after getting cleanup hitter Tomoaki Kanemoto to ground into a double play to escape a two-on jam in the first.

Shinjiro Hiyama led off the fifth with a single for Hanshin and Akihiro Yano hit a one-out single to put runners at the corners. Atsushi Fujimoto then tied the game 1-1 on a sacrifice fly to left.

But in the bottom half, Imae's clutch hit and a two-run double by cleanup-hitter Saburo Omura put Lotte ahead 4-1. ''The ball I doubled was a changeup. I'm relieved to have the hit, especially after I struggled in the second stage of the playoffs (against the Softbank Hawks),'' Omura said.

Lee added a solo homer in the sixth and Valentine's team stretched the lead to nine runs in the next inning on a Satozaki three-run blast and Agbayani's two-run drive.

Igawa was chased after six innings after giving up five runs and 10 hits, while striking out nine and walking one. Kentaro Hashimoto replaced the left-hander, but was unable to stop the Marines' 15-hit slugfest.

Every player in the Marines' starting lineup had at least one hit, with Imae leading the way, Agbayani going 3-for-4 and Kazuya Fukuura going 2-for-4.

''We had all of our parts of the game going tonight and it was the first game of a seven-game series,'' Valentine said.

In the last 10 years, the winners of Game 1 have posted a 9-1 record in the Japan Series. The only team that lost the first game but won the series was the Yomiuri Giants in 2000, when they won four straight after dropping the first two against the Daiei Hawks.

Lotte has a 1-3 record in Game 1 of its previous four Japan Series appearances and only won the title when it took the first game in 1950. Hanshin has a 2-2 record in its previous four appearances and lost the championship when it dropped Game 1 in 1964 and 2003.

''I was worried about our hitting and that's exactly what the problem was tonight. The guys weren't swinging the bats,'' said Hanshin manager Akinobu Okada.

''It hurt us a lot when Igawa let the ninth batter (Masato Watanabe) on to lead off the fifth. We don't feel good about how this ended but we have to make sure not to continue with this same way of playing and score first tomorrow,'' he added.

Lotte is aiming for its first title in 31 years when they were know as the Lotte Orions in 1974 while Hanshin hopes to claim the championship for the first time since 1985.

Right-hander Shunsuke Watanabe will start Game 2 for Lotte while Yuya Ando will take the mound for Hanshin at Chiba Marine Stadium.

Willets Point
Oct 22 2005 01:57 PM

Benny! Benny! Benny!

Oct 22 2005 04:17 PM

Chiba Lotte fans "Believe" just like Mets fans, Go Marines..

Oct 23 2005 10:15 AM

Go Marines!

Baseball: S. Watanabe blanks Tigers, Marines jump for 2-0 series

.c Kyodo News Service

CHIBA, Japan, Oct. 23 (Kyodo) - Shunsuke Watanabe pitched a four-hitter over the distance, while Saburo Omura, Matt Franco and Lee Seung Yeop each homered in a five-run six inning as the Lotte Marines trounced the Hanshin Tigers 10-0 Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Japan Series.

Watanabe struck out four and walked none in Game 2 while the Hanshin bats once again failed to swing the bats in a second-straight double-digit defeat at Chiba Marine Stadium.

With the Marines leading 2-0 in the sixth, Omura hit a two-run homer on a 2-2 pitch from right-hander Yuya Ando (0-1).

''I was able to connect perfectly. I knew the ball would be gone as soon as I hit it. I'm so happy that I was able to play in this kind of atmosphere,'' Omura, who batted cleanup, said.

Franco followed Omura with a solo shot. Two batters later, Lee added a two-run blast, his second in the series, to make it 7-0.

Meanwhile, Toshiaki Imae set a new Japan Series record with eight hits in as many at-bats and as many plate appearances. He had four singles in four at-bats after hitting a solo homer and going 4-for-4 with two RBIs the previous day.

The Marines took a quick lead as Tsuyoshi Nishioka led off the first inning with a double, moved to third on a Hisao Heiuchi sacrifice bunt and scored on a throwing error by third baseman Makoto Imaoka who tried to field a Omura grounder with two outs.

Lotte made it 2-0 in the second as Lee drew a leadoff walk and Imae singled to put runners at the corners with none out. Lee scored when Tasuku Hashimoto grounded into a double play.

Bobby Valentine's team put the game away in the sixth and added three more runs on three hits in the eighth.

After a travel day on Monday, the series moves to Koshien Stadium for Game 3 starting Tuesday.

Willets Point
Oct 23 2005 10:33 AM

Ooh, the hallowed Koshien.

Oct 23 2005 10:57 AM

Bobby's got Wa!

Willets Point
Oct 23 2005 11:07 AM

Highlights of Game #1 of the Nippon Series (opens with Real Player).

Willets Point
Oct 23 2005 11:14 PM

Game #2 of the Nippon Series highlights include:
- the slugging prowess of Matt Franco
- Benny Agbayani, like Ichiro, wears his first name on his uniform
- the pitcher for the Marines (#31) makes Chad Bradford's delivery look overhand
- a bow from Bobby V.

Oct 24 2005 01:17 PM

Times had a nice (but late) article about Bobby V. in Sunday's paper too.

Here's a tidbit that Sal would love:

]Valentine took a long-term view for the roster, imploring the Japanese players to become the face of the franchise instead of relying on foreign free agents. Now, Valentine noted, his starting shortstop is 21 and his third baseman is 22, each in his first full season.

"They were five years away when I got here, according to all of the baseball experts," Valentine said.

That 3B is Imae, who is now 8-8 in the Series.

Thanks for the video links, by the way--good stuff!

Oct 24 2005 01:25 PM

There is even a beer named for Valentine, Bobeer, which raised money for a child's heart transplant.

Coolest thing ever.

Oct 24 2005 01:45 PM

2005 Stats for Selected Marines:

Benny, OF (.315/.426/.617, 1.043) 35 HR, 8 SB, .364 RISP
Fukuura, 1B (.314/.348/.466, .814), 11 HR., 348 RISP
Franco, 3B/1B/OF (.278/.363/.476, .839), 16 HR, .281 RISP
Hori, 2B (.261/.347/.416/.763), 14 HR, .347 RISP
Imae, 3B (.257/.295/.368), 1 HR, 5 BB, 21 K, .295 RISP
Kosaka, SS (.252/.336/.326), 1 HR, .333 RISP
Saburo, OF (.256/.331/.399), 5 HR, .388 RISP


Shimzu, 169.33 IP, 126 K, 42 BB, 10-11, 3.40 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 6.70 K/9
Watanabe, 150.33 IP, 101 K, 42 BB, 12-6, 3.59 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 6.05 K/9
H. Kobayashi, 154.33 IP, 137 K, 57 BB, 9-7, 4.26 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 7.99 K/9
M. Kobayashi, 57.67 IP, 50 K, 19 BB, 20 SV, 3.90 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 7.80 K/9
Yabuta, 77.33 IP, 71 K, 34 BB, 3-4, 2 SV, 2.79 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 8.26 K/9

Looking at the stats, I would assume that Hanshin will send up Fukuhara (181.3 IP, 148 K, 58 BB, 10-15, 3.87 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 7.35 K/9) in Game 3 while Chiba send up H. Kobayashi.


Johnny Dickshot
Oct 24 2005 02:17 PM

Imae suxxx! Bring in Ventura-san!

Oct 24 2005 02:18 PM

Take out Kabayashi! Bring in Kobayashi!

Oct 25 2005 06:59 AM

No details yet, but it looks like Chiba Lotte is up in the series 3-0 -

Baseball: Japanese pro baseball linescores+

.c Kyodo News Service

TOKYO, Oct. 25 (Kyodo) - Linescore of Tuesday's game in Japanese pro baseball: *

Japan Series, Game 3

At Koshien Stadium Lotte 010 200 700 - 10 10 0 Hanshin 010 000 000 - 1 6 1 WP - H. Kobayashi, 1-0 LP - Shimoyanagi, 0-1 HR - Lotte: Fukuura (1) Attendance: 47,753 Time: 3:20 *

Edgy DC
Oct 25 2005 07:05 AM



Oct 25 2005 08:19 AM

Baseball: Lotte crushes Hanshin again, moves 1 win from

.c Kyodo News Service


Bobby Valentine's Lotte Marines are one victory from their first Japan Series title in 31 years while the Hanshin Tigers had another nightmare night, this time in their own backyard.

Tomoya Satozaki got a lucky break for the go-ahead run and Kazuya Fukuura hit a grand slam in a seven-run explosion in the seventh inning as Lotte stomped Hanshin 10-1 in Game 3 to take a 3-0 advantage in the series Tuesday.

''We played very, very well tonight but still need one more win,'' said Valentine, whose team has outscored Hanshin 30-2 in the most lopsided first three games in the 56-year history of the Japanese version of the World Series.

''The guys were hitting very well and had confidence and good concentration,'' Valentine said. ''(Starting pitcher Hiroyuki) Kobayashi had a stiff back but showed guts in six great innings.''

The Tigers now need a miracle to survive their nightmare series.

In 16 cases, only three teams have ever come back to win four straight after falling to a 3-0 deficit in the Japan Series. The Yomiuri Giants were the last team to accomplish the feat when they beat the Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1989.

Once again, the Hanshin bats came up empty and could muster just six hits on the night. Cleanup hitter Tomoaki Kanemoto was held hitless for the third straight game while Central League RBI leader Makoto Imaoka, who bats fifth, went 1-for-3 with single.

''I have few things to say...All we have to do is create more scoring chances,'' Hanshin manager Akinobu Okada said. ''Ending our season in such an awful way makes me feel that what we've done all year means nothing. We'll just try to go out there and give our all.''

In the fourth, Satozaki hit into a potential inning-ending double play to shortstop but beat out the throw to first on a controversial call as Koichi Hori, who had hit a leadoff single to right, scored the go-ahead run to make it 2-1.

Toshiaki Imae, who set a new series record with eight hits in as many at-bats through two games, struck out in the second to end his hitting streak but chipped in a run on an RBI infield single to third to extend the lead to 3-1.

''I didn't know what was going to happen but I just ran as fast as I could. It's a big difference between finishing with one run and getting two. I'm happy with anything that results in a score,'' Imae said.

Lotte put away the game in the seventh. Valentine sent Tasuku Hashimoto in to pinch-hit for starter Hiroyuki Kobayashi (1-0) after reliever Kyuji Fujikawa loaded the bases.

Hashimoto worked a 3-2 count and delivered a two-run single to center off to make it 5-1.

''I hit a fastball. The bases were loaded with a 3-2 count, so I tried to avoid a ball and swing compactly. I was the pinch-hitter for Kobayashi, so I had to try and get a hit,'' Hashimoto said.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka added a run with an RBI single to center and after Okada opted for another pitching change, Fukuura put the game out of reach with his grand slam off Masashi Sajikihara to the right-field stands.

''It was a fastball. The game was going our way and I decided I'd swing if an easy pitch came first. I wasn't sure it was a home run at first because the ball was so low. This was the best thing that could have happened for us,'' Fukuura said.

Kobayashi allowed one run on three hits in six innings. He struck out five and walked one before giving way to the bullpen.

''I didn't have a good start but after my changeup started working, my slider and fastball got better,'' Kobayashi said. ''I can only hear the deafening cheers of Koshien Stadium so it was hard to focus.''

Hanshin starting pitcher Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi (0-1), who led the CL with 15 wins in the regular season, allowed three runs and four hits in five innings in taking the loss.

The Marines, who won 10-1 and 10-0 in the first two games at home, posted double-digit runs for the third straight game after becoming the first team to score 10 times or more in back-to-back Japan Series games.

The Tigers made a promising start to the game when Takashi Toritani had a one-out double off the left-field wall in the first but Andy Sheets struck out swinging and Kanemoto grounded out to second to end the inning.

Lotte cleanup hitter Saburo Omura led off the second with a double to right, took third on a Shimoyanagi wild pitch and scored on a Benny Agbayani sacrifice fly to make it 1-0.

Hanshin came back in the bottom half for its only sign of life.

Imaoka got his first hit of the series after an 0-for-6 start with a single to left and after Shinjiro Hiyama drew a walk, Akiro Yano grounded out to second to put runners on second and third. Imaoka then scored on a Kentaro Sekimoto groundout to third to tie it 1-1.

In Wednesday's Game 4 at Koshien Stadium, Dan Serafini is scheduled to start for Lotte in a matchup with Naohisa Sugiyama.

Oct 25 2005 09:07 AM

Sweet! Let's hope by this time tomorrow, we'll have broken out the brooms . . .

Oct 25 2005 10:01 AM

I'm wearing my Chiba Lotte cap today. This is what's on the front of my cap -

This should be the Official Offseason Alcoholic Beverage of the CPF -

Oct 25 2005 10:10 AM

Is it Bo-Beer or Bob-eer?

Willets Point
Oct 25 2005 10:17 AM

Scarlett, where did you get that hat? I'm curious if Chiba Lotte Marines "Benny" jerseys are available anywhere.

Willets Point
Oct 25 2005 10:20 AM

Bigger image of Bobeer can (made in China!?!?!?!).

Edgy DC
Oct 25 2005 10:36 AM

Bobby's turning Japanese.

I really think so.

Oct 25 2005 11:39 AM

Next year I'm starting the BoBeer PoTG polls to battle the Schaefer ones.

All voting will be in Japanese.

Oct 25 2005 11:50 AM

I ordered it from [url=]Star Struck[/url]

And this is what the cap looks like -

Oct 25 2005 12:09 PM

Is Shinjo on that team? Wasn't he on it last year?

Oct 25 2005 12:10 PM
Edited 1 time(s), most recently on Oct 25 2005 12:18 PM

Chiba Lotte Jerseys:

*Edited to fix link to 2005 Road Jersey

Oct 25 2005 12:17 PM

But Bobby's beer can hat has the M on it and no sign of the chicken. Can one get a non-chicken hat?

Oct 25 2005 12:19 PM

Marines "M" cap.

Johnny Dickshot
Oct 25 2005 12:56 PM

Shinjo is Fighting Hams:

Oct 25 2005 01:24 PM

This was when Chiba Lotte clinched a spot in the Japan Series.

Look at how high they're tossing Bobby! Imagine if they actually win it all?

And for the record, I would never get tossed in the air in a situation where I'm relying on someone named "Matsui" to catch me...

Oct 26 2005 07:32 AM


] The Lotte Marines won their first Japan Series title in 31 years Wednesday after a 3-2 win over the Hanshin Tigers in Game 4, which gave the Pacific League champions a four-game sweep.

Lotte, managed by former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine, overwhelmed Hanshin and became only the seventh team to sweep the annual best-of-seven series and first since the Yomiuri Giants did it against the Seibu Lions in 2002.

Lotte Marines wins Japan Series with four-game sweep

Oct 26 2005 07:39 AM

Great news, a huge congratulation to Bobby and the boys..a full report below..

]Full Report

Print-friendly version
Valentine's Marines win Japan Series
South Korean outfielder Lee Seung-yeop drove in all three runs Wednesday, leading Bobby Valentine's Chiba Lotte Marines to a 3-2 win over the Hanshin Tigers and their first Japan Series title in 31 years.

Lotte becomes the first team to sweep a Japan Series since 2002, when the Yomiuri Giants defeated the Seibu Lions. Valentine, meanwhile, becomes the first foreign manager in the 70-year history of Japanese baseball to win a Japan Series.

"I feel wonderful," said Valentine. "We started in spring training with a dream to be here for the last game. We wanted to win the last game and we did."

Valentine, who took the New York Mets to the World Series in 2000 where they lost in five games to the New York Yankees, is in his second stint with the Marines. He guided the team to a second-place finish in 1995.

"I would like to thank everyone in the Lotte organization," said Valentine. "Including (team owner) Mr. Shigemitsu, who had the faith to bring me back for a second time."

Lee connected for a two-run homer in the second inning at Koshien Stadium to give the Marines a 2-0 lead and then drove in a run in the third with a double off Hanshin starter Naohisa Sugiyama.

Lotte starter Dan Serafini gave up two runs on five hits over 5-1/3 innings for the win.

Makoto Imaoka drove in a run with a bloop single in the bottom of the sixth to make it 3-1. Pinch-hitter Shinjiro Hiyama hit a single to right to cut the lead to one run.

Since Japanese baseball went to a two-league system in 1950, only five teams have swept the Japan Series. Lotte becomes the sixth.

The Tigers, who never got their offense on track and scored only four runs in the series, hit into four double plays in Wednesday's game.

After Lotte reliever Masahide Kobayashi walked Atsushi Kataoka to leadoff the ninth. Akihiro Yano then hit into a double play on a failed sacrifice bunt before Kobayashi struck out Atsushi Fujimoto to end the game.

Toshiaki Imae was named the series MVP after going 10-for-16 with four RBIs. He also set a new Japan Series record for consecutive hits when he went 8-for-8 in the first two games.

"It's a great feeling," said Imae. "It was amazing the way this team played all season long and in the series." (AP)

October 26, 2005

Oct 26 2005 07:45 AM

Yea Marines! Yea Bobby!

Oct 26 2005 08:36 AM

"After Lotte reliever Masahide Kobayashi walked Atsushi Kataoka to leadoff the ninth..."

Freakin' Kobayashi always gotta make it interesting...

Honestly, how much do you miss these guys?

Oct 26 2005 08:46 AM

]Honestly, how much do you miss these guys?

A lot, Bobby was the best....

Oct 26 2005 08:49 AM

Centerfield wrote:

Honestly, how much do you miss these guys?

Don't get me started.

Oct 26 2005 09:28 AM

Here's a toast - To Bobby and his Championship Team!

Oct 26 2005 09:31 AM

When Bobby first managed Chiba didn't he get fired because he clashed with the GM?...interesting that he comes back under the same owner and wins it all.......ahh I'm just thinking aloud, it would never happen..

Oct 26 2005 01:28 PM

The best part about this celebration is you can cure your BoBeer hangover with Benny Bean coffee.

(Couldn't find a pic of Benny Beans online, how is that possible?)

Oct 26 2005 01:32 PM

I think they pulled Benny Bean coffee. I looked it up a year or so ago, and the company didn't offer it any longer.

Oct 26 2005 01:41 PM

Anybody here ever had a cup of Benny Bean coffee? If so, how was it?

Oct 26 2005 02:05 PM

I did. It was a strong, nice blend.

BTW, I e-mailed MK's teacher this morning so that he could hear about the sweep in school (he asked me to check the score for him this morning, but it wasn't available before he had to leave for school). He came home VERY happy :)

Oct 26 2005 02:45 PM

Oct 26 2005 02:48 PM

I want to have a really good college fair tonight and have all the other college reps throw me into the air at the end of the night.

I love sports.

Willets Point
Oct 26 2005 02:50 PM

I want to answer a really good reference question today and have the library patrons throw me into the air at the end of the day.

I love sports.

Oct 26 2005 04:45 PM

I want to do such a good job at my closing tomorrow that my clients, the title company, and the bank attorneys throw me in the air at the end of it all.

I love sports.

Oct 26 2005 04:59 PM

I want to do so well in school tomorrow that my classmates throw me in the air at the end of it all.

I love sports.

Edgy DC
Oct 26 2005 05:05 PM

Valentine wants the champ.

Valentine pushes to meet Series champs

Associated Press

10/26/2005 10:56:47 AM

OSAKA, Japan (AP) - Bobby Valentine wants to see a series between the best team from Japan and Major League Baseball.

The former New York Mets manager, whose Chiba Lotte Marines completed a four-game sweep of the Japan Series on Wednesday, says Japanese professional baseball has closed the gap on the majors.

"Watching our guys all season and the World Series on TV, I can tell you the level of play is equal," Valentine said after becoming the first foreigner to manage a Japan Series champion. "Such a competition would be great, and it's time to do battle."

Valentine, who managed the Mets in their World Series loss five years ago to the Yankees, is in the second year of a three-year contract with the Marines. He's the only foreigner to manage in the Japan Series and only the fifth to head a team in the 70-year history of the league.

"It's as good a team as I've ever managed," he said. "I'd put them up against the winner of the World Series, and I know we'd win at least a couple of games."

Valentine, the only man to manage in both the World Series and the Japan Series, brushed aside the World Baseball Classic, a 16-nation World Cup-style tournament to be held in March featuring professional players from the major leagues and Japan.

Bobby Valentine
"I'm not talking about all-star exhibition games," Valentine said. "I'm talking about two battle-proven teams who have played a season together and know how to play baseball.

"If the people making all the big decisions in baseball don't know the difference between all-star exhibition games and a competition between true champions, they shouldn't be in the decision-making process to begin with."

Valentine says he'll keep pushing the idea but knows it would be hard to get by the players unions of both leagues.

"But they'd make a fortune from the TV," Valentine said. "It would be the biggest contract ever."

Major League Baseball has never been keen on the idea, and Valentine suggested a more direct approach to staging such an event.

"Maybe it's just time for our owner to make the challenge to the owner of the team that wins the World Series," Valentine said.

South Korean Lee Seung-yeop drove in all three runs as the Marines beat the Hanshin Tigers 3-2 to win their first Japan Series title in 31 years.

"We started in spring training with a dream to be here for the last game," Valentine said. "We wanted to win the last game and we did."

Since Japanese baseball went to a two-league system in 1950, only six teams have swept the Japan Series.

Valentine is in his second stint with the Marines. He guided the team to a second-place finish in 1995.

Lee hit a two-run homer in the second inning at Koshien Stadium to give the Marines a 2-0 lead, then had a run-scoring double in the third.

Oct 26 2005 08:22 PM

I'd love to see this series, like Bobby said lets play a real series, I'm so happy for him, he's achieved a few firsts in winnning this, great for him.

pictures of Bobby..

Oct 27 2005 06:59 AM

A trio of Mets..

Oct 27 2005 07:05 AM

Bobby also thought that Kaz Matsui would immediately be an above average player for an MLB team. Didn't Benny hit like .330 with 35 HR this year? I love Benny as much as the next guy, but I think this kind of shows that there is a gap between MLB and the Japanese league.

Now who's going to be first to show Benny's stats projected over a 162 game season and claim that I'm being unfair?

Oct 27 2005 07:48 AM

Well, clearly he's engaging in some hyperbole, Elster, but I would LOVE to see a Universe Series (or whatever the hell they'd call it--the REAL World Series? The Trans-Pacific Series?).

Maybe the Marines would get thrashed by the Sox--hard to say since I've only seen clips of the Marines--but it'd be interesting to watch.

Would they play in a neutral stadium, since clearly traveling to Japan & back during a 7-game series isn't possible? Would we have to set up a Trans-Pacific All Star Game to determine who wins home field advantage?

And in defense of Bobby V, he also said that Ichiro would be one of the best 5 players in the majors were he to play here. Pretty good call on that one.

Johnny Dickshot
Oct 27 2005 08:01 AM

Matsui remains one of the most baffling players and is well on his way to becoming one of the most shameful chapters in Met history. I have no doubt a good deal of his issues here have been partly the result of the Mets inability to communicate with him, and vice versa.

Had Bobby Vee been where he belongs I think we get a better performance out of Kaz or at the very least understand him better.

Benjamin Grimm
Oct 27 2005 08:02 AM

I think that kind of a series would be interesting.

It would have to be at a neutral site. Maybe even a neutral continent. They could play in Europe, or maybe Hawaii, so that both sides would be equally inconvenienced.

If it was played in Europe, most of the locals would be indifferent, but the stands would fill up with American and Japanese fans. (I'd consider going to Europe to see the World Champion Mets play another round. I would have loved to have done that in November 1986.) And it could only help raise the game's profile in Europe if the series was played there.

Frayed Knot
Oct 27 2005 08:26 AM

So unless I'm mistaken, MLB & Japanese baseball both had their championships won by foreign born managers for the first time just one day apart.

Willets Point
Oct 27 2005 08:55 AM

Rotblatt wrote:
Well, clearly he's engaging in some hyperbole, Elster, but I would LOVE to see a Universe Series (or whatever the hell they'd call it--the REAL World Series? The Trans-Pacific Series?).

We need to get MTV on board to sponsor The Real World Series.

Oct 27 2005 02:09 PM

Rotblatt wrote:
Well, clearly he's engaging in some hyperbole, Elster, but I would LOVE to see a Universe Series

Me too. I just don't think it'd be competitive.

Rotblatt wrote:
(or whatever the hell they'd call it--the REAL World Series? The Trans-Pacific Series?).

Haha, yeah, keeping it at World Series would be fine. This would just be the first time other countries were invited.

Willets Point
Oct 27 2005 02:20 PM

Other than Canada that is.

Oct 27 2005 02:31 PM

I don't consider those team(s) to be Canadian.

Giant Squidlike Creature
Oct 27 2005 02:44 PM

Well a franchise based in Toronto with a line-up of Americans, Dominicans, Japanes, Venezualans, Australians, Japanese, Koreans and Canadians would still be Canadian just as a franchise based in Osaka with a lineup of Koreans, Tawainese, Dominicans, Venezualans, Australians, Americans, and Japanese would still be Japanese. It's an international game anyway you slice it. And an aquatic one as well once they cross the barrier that prohibits Squid from playing.

Oct 27 2005 02:57 PM

I think of them as an American team because MLB is American.

I know, it really doesn't make sense.

Oct 27 2005 09:13 PM

Watch video of Chiba Lotte players go crazy....from the Chiba site

Edgy DC
Oct 27 2005 09:25 PM

It's the Sox all over.

One guy has Manny's doo-rag. Another guy (#14) has Bronson Cornroyo's regrettable hairstyle.

At least one confused guy is painfully trying to wipe the champaign from his eyes as he inexplicably wears his goggles on his head.

Oct 27 2005 09:30 PM

Yes I laughed at the hair and doo-rag, and in one bit a few were shouting Bobby though.

Oct 31 2005 12:33 PM

Your welcome SK, glad MK enjoyed it...Bobby V getting courted..

]Bobby Valentine being courted by three Major League teams
Bobby Valentine, who led the Chiba Lotte Marines to a four-game sweep of the Japan Series, has captured the interest of the Washington Nationals, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers, a news report said Monday.

The three Major League clubs expected to ask the Marines for permission to hold talks in the near future on bringing Valentine back to the United States, Kyodo News agency said, citing the American manager.

Valentine, who managed the New York Mets in their World Series loss five years ago to the Yankees, became the first foreign manager to reach the Japan Series since Hawaiian-born Wally Yonamine took the Chunichi Dragons there in 1974.

Valentine has said repeatedly he will return to the Marines next season. Kyodo cited team representative Ryuzo Setoyama as saying "there is no doubt he'll be here." His three-year contract expires in 2006, Kyodo said.

Valentine is the only manager to lead teams in both the World Series and the Japan Series. (AP)

October 31, 2005

The Nats would be a very interesting choice.

Nov 01 2005 09:04 AM

Long LA Times article on Bobby V, registration required so I will post it here...


A Made Man in Japan
Valentine is a national hero after Chiba Lotte's title, and if Dodgers call, leaving won't be easy.

By Bruce Wallace, Times Staff Writer

TOKYO — "Bobbeeee!" They recognize him wherever he goes. Even out of uniform — no ball cap, no big No. 2 on his back — everyone in Tokyo seems to know who Bobby Valentine is.

"Bobbeeee!" They shout and try to shake his hand (he hates that) or take his picture with their cellphone cameras.

Having Bobby Valentine on your cellphone is a very cool thing in Japan right now.

Always popular, Valentine has become an even bigger star in the week since his Chiba Lotte Marines, the team from the Tokyo 'burbs and the standing joke of Japanese baseball, defied the usual skeptics and socked their way to the club's first championship in 31 years.

"Bobby Magic," the media here call it. "Bobby's Family" read the newspaper headline under the team's victory photo after they swept the Hanshin Tigers from Osaka in four games to win the Japan Series. If people have heard the speculation that Valentine may leave Japan to manage the Dodgers, no one is going to be rude enough to ask him if it's true.

Tokyo is Bobby's Town.

Take the crowd in Shibuya on Friday evening, the neon glowing over one of Tokyo's hippest and busiest neighborhoods. Valentine is standing at Shibuya's famous intersection with three buddies from college days who came over to see the final series — "the Goons," he calls them affectionately — when a murmur begins to surf the crowd.

"Is it Bobby?" people ask, and suddenly he and his friends are surrounded, like a milestone home-run ball that has landed in the bleachers. Ten, 20, 50 people with more coming, all thrusting cellphones into his face until finally Valentine calls a halt and strides away.

He leads the Goons across the intersection and into a pachinko parlor, the Japanese gambling arcades that are a cross between slots and pinball. People sit at machines, transfixed, as thousands of tiny steel balls tumble about in a deafening rattle. They look as if their fate is in those balls. But an old woman recognizes Valentine and abandons her post at the machine to ask for an autograph.

When Valentine steps toward her, he accidentally kicks over a bucket of pachinko balls. Thousands of the tiny steel balls roll down the aisles and scatter under machines.

"It's OK, it's OK, Bobby," says the owner, rushing up to soothe him. She doesn't want Valentine to be upset. Staff members grab brooms. The Americans escape into the neon night.

Suddenly the owner is chasing after them. "Bobby!" she shouts. He left without giving her an autograph. "Arigato" — thank you — Valentine says as he bows and signs. She's over the moon.

Yep. This is Bobby's Town.

Understanding Bobby Valentine's place in Japan — and what success in Japanese baseball means to him — is essential to understanding why leaving here would be a tougher call than anyone in L.A. could imagine, should the Dodgers make an offer.

Valentine back in Dodger blue? A reunion with Tommy Lasorda, his long-ago minor league manager and mentor? What's to hesitate on? Why be coy?

"I'm not kidding anybody, I think it would be great to manage the Dodgers," Valentine says as he drives home after recording a postseason interview for Japanese TV. "Especially when Tommy's still alive, especially when I still have this great energy to get around that city.

"If they're sure I'm the guy they need, that there's a fit, it might happen to be the right thing."

Whether the Dodgers can afford Valentine might be another matter.

According to a source close to the Marines, Valentine made $2.95 million this year, maxing out on his bonuses, in the second year of a three-year contract. Incentives in Japan can be linked to anything, unlike in major league ball, so a new contract for Valentine could be structured around bonuses for victories above a specified number, each round of playoffs or other team accomplishments.

It's expected that he will be offered a three-year extension worth $4 million a year, plus incentives, as a starting point, with the understanding that it will rise during the negotiation process.

In any event, Valentine bristles at suggestions that Japan is baseball purgatory, a place he came to in order to get more games under his belt while waiting for a "real" opportunity in major league baseball to come his way. He sees himself as uniquely positioned to break down the provincial, chauvinistic instincts of baseball people on both sides of the Pacific.

These are two very different baseball cultures, he argues, each with its merits, each ignoring the best of the other at its peril. And if he leaves Japan, he worries that he'll be sending a signal that Japanese baseball is less significant than major league ball.

"Look," he says, "I have friends who have said, 'I know you can't wait to get back, I hope someone offers you a job.' And I wonder where I went wrong in my friendship for them not to understand. What is it that they don't get?"

What they miss, say Valentine and those who know him best, is that he has climbed a personal and professional mountain in Japan. He has taken a team that was a byword for failure to a title — not just its first since the 1970s when the Marines wore uniforms with pink trim, but his first championship as a manager and the first by a foreign manager in Japan.

"People in the U.S. can't fully appreciate the significance of what he's done in this baseball culture," says Jim Small, vice president of international market development for Major League Baseball, who has known Valentine since he managed in Texas in the 1980s. "You have to know what this means to him. Unless you know Bobby and the importance he places on loyalty, it's hard to understand why there would be a conundrum about leaving."

The Japan Series victory was even sweeter because it represented a successful second act for Valentine in Japan. His first experience managing here, for the Lotte Marines in 1995, ended in tears after only one season.

Valentine led the 1995 team to a surprising second-place finish but was fired by General Manger Tatsuro Hirooka at the end of the season after clashing with his Japanese coaching staff over, among other things, his resistance to their grueling practice routines and long team meetings. In one incident, Valentine ordered his team to take a day off, only to find his players and coaches defiantly holding a practice at the park.

Friends recall Valentine phoning home to the U.S., incredulous at what "they" were doing to him. The prevailing narrative about that first managerial stint — at least among English-language baseball writers — portrays Valentine as an on-field success who was popular with fans but ran into a wall of anti-foreigner resentment from coaches, executives and the Japanese media.

It's a version that Valentine refuses to subscribe to now.

"I came here the first time with the idea it was just a little place to hang up my clothes for a while until I got another job in the States," he says. "I was pig-headed. I was trying to move mountains with a bulldozer, and it wasn't going to happen as quickly as I wanted it to happen.

"But I wasn't 55; I was 45. I didn't have 20 years' experience; I had 10. And I made it tough on myself."

Valentine laughs when he says he's the only manager to have been fired in the American League (Rangers), the National League (Mets) and Japan. But he also says his failure in Japan burned inside him as "unfinished business" over the years.

"I didn't make the difference here that I wanted to make," he says. "I think I made a difference in Texas. I made a difference in New York. …

"But when I left here the last time, it was worse. I didn't like that notch on my belt."

Valentine was living in Connecticut, doing ESPN baseball broadcasts, when Marine owner Akio Shigemitsu, son of the owner who had hired him the first time, came calling in 2003 to see whether Valentine would return to Japan for another try. He was back listening to his Japanese lessons on his iPod even before the contract was signed.

"Bobby enjoyed ESPN and he was good at it, but he was bored," his wife, Mary, says. "And when Bobby Valentine is bored, it's not a good thing."

For Valentine, what happened between the white lines in Japanese baseball was the easy part. The tougher challenge was finding the proper calibration of American and Japanese philosophies.

The notion that he opposed practices was "lost in translation last time," he says. Indeed it is the Japanese emphasis on practicing skills and fundamentals that leads him to argue that the best in Japan can compete with the World Series winner.

It's a line that most baseball people in America scoff at — the Marines' foreign talent this year included borderline major leaguers Benny Agbayani and Matt Franco, who had played for Valentine with the Mets — as more of Bobby's bluster.

But Valentine counters that Major League Baseball is arrogant.

"I watched the White Sox; we play better than the White Sox," he says. "We don't throw balls in the dirt. We don't throw balls over the first baseman's head. We hit the cutoff man every time.

"When I say we play better it's not because we are better players. It's because we practice better."


Where Valentine differed most noticeably from his Japanese counterparts was in his handling of players. Japanese baseball thrives on hierarchy between owners, managers and players, all sticking to their roles in a strict code. The team trumps the player and managers rule through fear. Let your teammates down by going 0 for 4 and expect to put in a couple of more hours of batting practice after the game. Make an error in the field and you might get yanked — in mid-inning.

Valentine brought a softer approach to handling his players, trying to get them to not fear failure. No one got chewed out, though players were encouraged to display emotion.

"All the Japanese players seem to be playing in neutral," he says. "I wanted our guys to enjoy their successes and enjoy their failures. It was going to be OK to hit a double and clap your hands at second base. And it was going to be all right to come back to the dugout after a strikeout or an error, and kick your helmet. I allowed them to do that."

Besides, Valentine says with a big smile, "I think fans like it."

The Marines won the title away from home and their enthusiastic fans. The Tigers were never in the series, losing, 10-1, 10-0 and 10-1 before putting up a slight struggle in Game 4.

The championship was won in Hanshin's Koshien Stadium, where the stands were so shaky there were fears the bleachers might collapse if visiting Marine fans celebrated with their signature tatenori — literally "vertical movement."

Americans would recognize it as pogo-ing.

Valentine watched the game from the top step of the dugout, shifting nervously, slapping butts and high-fiving his players when they returned to the bench after good plays. After taking an early three-run lead, the Marines withstood a Hanshin comeback that relied on a bad-hop RBI single and wrapped it up with a strikeout for a 3-2 win, followed by the obligatory mob scene near the mound.

Afterward, Valentine stood in foul territory off third base and on national TV used the occasion to thank Hirooka, the GM in 1995, for giving him "the opportunity to manage in this great country." And he thanked owner Shigemitsu "for having the faith to bring me back." On the big screen, he was visibly emotional.

Then it was on to the ritual Japanese beer shower that is held, not spontaneously in the dressing room, but at a nearby luxury hotel precisely two hours after the game. The hotel taped plastic sheeting over every exposed surface and the players — some prepared with swimming goggles — went nuts for about half an hour, pouring hundreds of bottles of beer and champagne over each other.

Up on stage in front of them, Valentine had goggles on too. His players charged the stage a few times and soon he was soaked in beer, his gray hair matted to his head. The players started chanting, and Valentine began jumping up and down, doing the Marines' bounce.

Then he threw his head back and started to holler.

"Arigato!" he screamed into the Japanese night. "Arigato!"


Bobby Valentine file

• Born: May 13, 1950, in Stamford, Conn.

• Player: With Dodgers, Angels, San Diego Padres, New York Mets and Seattle Mariners (1969-1979).

• Manager: With Texas Rangers (1985-1992), Mets (1996-2002), and Japanese Pacific League's Chiba Lotte Marines (1995; 2003-present).

Nov 01 2005 09:14 AM

<sigh> I miss Bobby.

Great article - thanks Irish!

Edgy DC
Nov 01 2005 09:23 AM

]"I'm not kidding anybody, I think it would be great to manage the Dodgers," Valentine says as he drives home after recording a postseason interview for Japanese TV. "Especially when Tommy's still alive, especially when I still have this great energy to get around that city."

Odd way to put it, publicly at least.

Nov 01 2005 10:23 AM

It sounds like Bobby is doing great things there.

The only thing that I don't agree with is this:

]And it was going to be all right to come back to the dugout after a strikeout or an error, and kick your helmet.

I hate this PaulO'Neillesque behavior.

Nov 01 2005 10:24 AM

That was a great article.

If he's not coming here, I hope he stays in Japan.

Nov 01 2005 10:40 AM

I can live with him managing the Dodgers.

Nov 01 2005 10:43 AM

I hate this PaulO'Neillesque behavior.

Not that I would EVER defend True Yankee Paul O'Neill, but I'm ok with behavior like that. I think it's perfectly fine to throw a helmet, slam a bat, curse if you're frustrated. Intensity is part of the game, and I'd take a guy who shows some emotion over an overly apathetic player any day. So if a player in the midst of a brutal slump throws his bat after striking out in a key spot in the game, I'm ok with that.

The time that it becomes a problem is when you do it as frequently as Paul O'Neill did it....seemingly after every strikeout or loss, you would see him throw some type of fit. And that of course, is when it becomes childish and silly. You can't go 4 for 4 every night. You shouldn't throw your bat when your team leads 8-0. This is why I hated Paul O'Neill.

I also don't like his whiny little voice.

Nov 01 2005 04:50 PM

Bobby V a finalist in Tampa Bay...


Nov 02 2005 07:15 AM

I think most of us have gotten over the '88 NLCS.

I haven't, though I got used to the bulldog, if that makes sense.

Edgy DC
Nov 02 2005 07:29 AM

I can think of 29 major league managing jobs I'd rather have.

On the other hand, a lot of solid young talent.

Nov 02 2005 07:42 AM
Edited 1 time(s), most recently on Nov 02 2005 09:56 AM

IIRC Bobby is known for working well with young players, no idea where that comes from but I think it was written in the papers over the years, with the money Bobby will command and the money Lou is owed that's a lot for the new owner....I think he'll hire a cheaper person.

Nov 03 2005 11:57 AM

Heard on the radio that Bobby V is one of the last three candidates for the Tampa mangerial position. My question is: Don't you actually have to want the job to be one of the final candidates?

Edgy DC
Nov 08 2005 09:23 PM

Nov 10 2005 07:39 AM

Breaking Bobby V news...

]Valentine close to re-signing in Japan


November 10, 2005, 8:58 AM EST

A multiyear agreement to keep Bobby Valentine with the Chiba Lotte Marines is imminent, Newsday has learned.

Valentine, pursued to manage the Dodgers and Devil Rays after leading Chiba Lotte to a sweep in the Nippon Series, will sign an extension with the Marines for at least three years and about $4 million per year.

Valentine, who led the Mets to the Subway Series in 2000, had been considering the jobs in Tampa Bay and Los Angeles. It is believed the Devil Rays made an offer that would have paid him about half what he'll make in Japan. Valentine was also a top target of the Dodgers, where he would have joined his mentor Tommy Lasorda, who has regained power in that organization.

With Valentine out of the mix, the Devil Rays are expected to hire Joe Maddon or John McLaren for their managing job. The Dodgers are busy considering candidates for their general manager job before they hire a manager to replace Jim Tracy.

Valentine made $3 million this year when his team pulled off a major upset to win the title, beating the Hanshin Tigers in four straight games. Valentine is widely celebrated throughout Japan after winning the most lopsided Nippon Series. He became the first foreigner honored with the Shoriki Award, given annually to a person who makes an outstanding contribution in Japanese baseball.

Nov 11 2005 12:47 PM

from espn:

TOKYO -- Bobby Valentine is so popular in Japan that he now has a beer named after him.

To commemorate Valentine guiding the Chiba Lotte Marines to their first Japan Series title in 31 years last month, Sapporo Breweries Ltd. has come out with BoBeer, a special version of its popular Black Label lager that's available only in Chiba.

The can features a cartoon likeness of Valentine giving a thumbs-up and saying "We're No. 1."

Valentine's Pacific League champion Marines swept the Central League champion Hanshin Tigers in the Japan Series last month.

The Marines have offered Valentine a new three-year contract. While he has yet to sign, Valentine said Thursday he was very pleased with the terms offered. The former New York Mets and Texas Rangers manager has been mentioned as a candidate for a few managerial openings in the majors.

It was a tossup between posting this here or in the "I Love Beer" thread.

Edgy DC
Dec 05 2005 08:04 AM

I invented a new thread here.

Dec 05 2005 08:51 AM

How so?


Edgy DC
Dec 05 2005 08:52 AM

All the Valentine posts extracted from the Rico thread.

Dec 05 2005 08:53 AM



Dec 05 2005 09:00 AM

I'm not sure why my post about Orel and the '88 NLCS is here. But good job with the new thread, anyways. SC = zero.

Edgy DC
Dec 05 2005 09:16 AM

I think because the Hershiser conversation was in response to Valentine pootentially managing the Dodgers.

Willets Point
Dec 05 2005 09:18 AM

Good job, Edge.

Edgy DC
Dec 05 2005 09:22 AM

Thanks. Didn't know I was clipping five pages. Wowsers.

It's an inexact science, as more than one thread of conversation can appear in the same post. In such cases, I kept a post in the thread that had the most responses to it.

It's too bad that we can fork threads this way, but can't merge two threads on the same topic.

I'm thinking of forking Davey Johnson and Team America content out of that thread as well, but we already have a thread for them I think, and I wouldn't be able to merge the two.

Dec 05 2005 09:26 AM

Yeah good stuff....I'm all over the first page of this thread......go Bobby

Dec 05 2005 09:39 AM

I hadn't realized Ralph Branca went over to Japan to support Bobby.

Ralphie's still pretty active in his old age.

Dec 05 2005 09:40 AM

I want to buy some of this -

Willets Point
Dec 05 2005 09:41 AM

I want to drink some of that.

Dec 05 2005 09:43 AM

Dec 05 2005 09:44 AM

Dec 05 2005 09:46 AM

Dec 05 2005 09:48 AM

Dec 05 2005 09:50 AM

Dec 05 2005 09:52 AM

Dec 05 2005 10:00 AM

You have to visit [url=]The Marines' Website[/url] and click the real time link to the victory parade and celebration. It includes Bobby thanking the crowd in Japanese and Bon Jovi music in the background - fun stuff!

Edgy DC
Dec 05 2005 10:17 AM

I get the idea that his back is feeling better.

Edgy DC
Dec 06 2005 10:29 PM

Valentine still (playfully) calling out the Sox.