The New York Post’s Joel Sherman runs up the long distance bill picking the brain of former Mets/Rangers manager Bobby Valentine.
Bobby Valentine is managing just fine. He has guided the perennial doormat Chiba Lotte Marines to the best record in Japan, 28-10 entering the weekend, with two of his former Met players, Benny Agbayani (league-leading 37 RBIs) and Matt Franco (second-best .348 BA), performing superbly.
Valentine (above, left), who admits loving to have a say in all parts of an organization, also had Chiba Lotte hire an American promotions director (former New York-based newspaper man Larry Rocca) and as the first Japanese team with a promotion-a-game style are ahead of its all-time attendance mark as the Marines try to win their first pennant in 31 years. Because he seeks to have influence throughout an organization and has a reputation dented throughout the years, Valentine may never make it back to the States to manage, and insists he is happy on this journey.
Still if the majors will not come to the majors, Valentine wants to bring the majors to him. Valentine believes the future is to have one world league, with major league teams in North America and Asia.
“There are going to be bigger and better things in baseball and I am going to be involved in it,” Valentine said by phone. “We have to open eyes and minds and have vision. No one on this side of the pond or on that side of the pond has the vision or the desire to do what should be done. They are too lost in today.
“There should be a division of major league baseball in Asia with major league franchises and with world players, not just Asian players. This way you would have a common world draft. The infrastructure is already here. The stadiums, the TVs, the fans.”
Valentine imagines a schedule similar to what existed when the American League played only against the American League and the National League only against the National League. The teams in Asia would play their schedule, the North American teams would play their schedule and then – like the Little League World Series – come to a single site to play for the title.
Valentine recognized that beyond breaking hardened views there would have to be determinations on splitting money, what site to play a title series at and the arduous travel. He said American players, for example, might not want to be drafted by or traded to an Asian team, “but nobody wanted to play in Montreal, either. When you get your free-agent rights you can write into you contract whatever you want.”