You must grant Bobby Valentine this: he understands the strong influence of persistence. When other managers would have interpreted an ejection as an excuse to leave the game early, he donned a disguise and waltzed back into the dugout. He didn’t actually waltz; you know what I mean. When most managers would have taken a firing and thrown their hands up in despair, he took his show to Japan. And when most Americans would have fled screaming after spending one week in Japan and seeing what perverts they all are (SFW), Valentine persevered, winning a title with the Chiba Lotte Marines.
Ah, but success is a year-to-year status, and ol’ Bobby was recently informed that his contract would not be renewed by the Marines. Not quite a firing, not quite employment. Just, “thanks, that’s all we asked for, toodle-oo.” And Chiba fans are really, really not taking the news well.
They are holding nightly vigils outside Chiba Marine Stadium, claiming to have already collected about 50,000 signatures on a petition. Inside, fans wear “Bobby 2010″ T-shirts and hold up signs saying “No Bobby, No Marines” and “Always Behind Bobby.”
Oh, that petition? It’s over 100,000 signatures now. Granted, petitions can be rather toothless over here and the Marines management is under no obligation to, y’know, care about any of that. But still, 100,000 is 100,000.
At issue is Valentine’s hefty salary, which hit $3.9 million this season. The club has no issue with his performance, per se, they just plain can’t afford him. A plausible excuse? Sure, but HA HA NO IT’S NOT:
“It’s definitely a bizarre situation,” said Lotte outfielder Benny Agbayani, who also played for Valentine with the Mets. “I’ve never seen a situation like this where a manager was told so far in advance that his contract wouldn’t be renewed. It’s a major distraction for sure, but Bobby is dealing with it well.”
Jun Okazaki, one of the fans visible and vocal in his support of Valentine, said, “He gives us exciting baseball and makes us feel like we all have a chance in life.”
So true, so true. For crying out loud, the guy has his own holiday. You have to–wait, we’re being told that Valentine’s Day is not named after Bobby. To which Chiba Lotte fans reply: “Yet.”