The Kansas City Star’s Joe Posnanski has made his choice for the next manager of the Kansas City Royals. So what if Bobby Valentine is already occupied as manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines?
I look at the names. Gene Lamont. Jerry Manuel. Grady Little. Fine. Decent managers. Good baseball men. But no one seems to have the boundless energy and magic to turn this thing around. No one gets the heart pumping a little bit. No one. And then a name hits me.
There is one exciting choice. There is one guy who could get all of baseball talking. There is one guy who could save the Kansas City Royals.
I pick up the phone. I dial a cell phone in Hiroshima, Japan. A voice answers. œHello. œBobby, if asked, would you come to manage the Royals? œHey, Bobby Valentine says, œare you trying to start some trouble?
Oh yeah, we need some trouble. Right here in River City. With a capital T that rhymes with V that stands for Valentine.
Why is he despised? Generally, it’s because many people in baseball find him: A. Arrogant. B. Manipulative. C. Condescending. D. All of the above.
Maybe all of that is true. Here’s what I know: Valentine is relentless. He’s funny. He’s very smart. He demands winning. His teams do win. And after 9/11, he more or less showed up at every single fund-raiser that Rudolph Giuliani could not attend.
I’ve heard enough good stories about Valentine to believe that there’s more there than The Sporting News cover, more than just the guy who wore the Groucho glasses and sneaked back into the dugout after getting ejected.
Here’s something else I know: If Valentine is really and truly hated, well, it wouldn’t hurt the Royals one bit to have the most-hated man in baseball running the team.
Right now, nobody in baseball cares about the Royals. Nobody cares if the Royals live or die. Hire Bobby Valentine. Make them care.
I think Bobby Valentine seeks a challenge. He’s 55. He’s financially set. He’s known on two continents. He’s done almost everything there is to do in baseball. Almost. But he has never pulled off a miracle. And there’s a miracle to be pulled off right here in River City.
It would not be easy to grab him. A conversation with a couple of Royals officials leads me to believe that he is not on the list. Well, put him there.
Here’s what I think Bobby Valentine would do: He would come in, work 20 hours a day, sell the Royals at every Optimists Club and breakfast meeting in the Midwest, demand good baseball, fight with all he’s got, irritate the heck out of opponents and make the Royals a factor again, in and out of Kansas City.
He isn’t just the right guy for this job. He’s the only guy. And I think if the Royals go after him, he could be had.
œYou think so? Valentine says, and he laughs. œWould I be interested? Possibly. ¦ I’ll tell you one thing. You go ahead and write it. That way, people can write in to tell you what a complete idiot you and I both are. We all need to hear that now and again.