Valentine says that the Braves do not respect his club
Posted: Monday October 11, 1999 08:37 PM
Bobby Valentine and the Mets are looking for a turn of fortune against the Braves. AP
NEW YORK (AP) -- It remains to be seen if the New York Mets' bats and arms are ready to meet Atlanta in the NL Championship Series.
It's already clear their mouths are in top form.
"I see no reason that we should have any affection for them," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said Sunday. "We have great respect for them. I think we still have to earn our respect. They've shown us very little."
New York advanced to its first championship series in 11 years by beating Arizona 4-3 in 10 innings Saturday, winning the best-of-5 first-round series in four games.
Just nine days earlier, after going 5-1 against New York over the final two weeks, the Braves declared the Mets finished, two games out of the wild-card lead with three to play.
"This is the next-best thing to winning the World Series," said Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, annoyed by taunts from the Shea Stadium fans. "I told them to go home and put their Yankees' stuff on."
That remark has stuck in the minds of many Mets players and fans.
"It was a pretty mature statement," Valentine said sarcastically, "and an incorrect one -- we're not dead yet. I don't think it was lack of understanding. I think he was very confident he wasn't going to have to deal with them again this year. Guess what? He's going to have to deal with them this year."
Atlanta went 9-3 against New York for the second straight season. The Braves swept three games from the Mets on the final weekend of 1998 to keep them out of the playoffs, and nearly knocked them out again by sweeping three in Atlanta and winning two of three in New York.
Jones was the biggest nemesis, hitting .400 with seven homers and 16 RBIs in 39 at-bats. In the three-game sweep at Turner Field from Sept. 21-23, he was 4-for-9 with four homers and seven RBIs.
"I don't think he's going to be as magical ever again as he was in that one series," Valentine said on a conference call Sunday after leaving Mass. "I don't think anyone could be."
It's not just Jones who annoys the Mets. It's pretty much the entire Braves team.
"There's been a lot of comments, subtle," Valentine said. "If the comments and actions they've made over the years were in New York, as a New York team, they'd be well known and documented, but a lot of them have slipped by some people."
He was asked to elaborate with two specifics.
"I don't see it to be necessary," he said. "We know it and those who have been watching know it. We'll just go on to earn our respect."
New York hit just .224 against Atlanta this year, with Robin Ventura batting .140, Edgardo Alfonzo .159, Mike Piazza .211 and John Olerud .229.
Against Game 1 starter Greg Maddux, Olerud is 3-for-17 (.176) in his career and Ventura is 1-for-10. But Alfonzo is 8-for-23 (.348) and Piazza 11-for-36 (.306) with two homers.
"We're due for good things to happen against this club, and I think they know it," Valentine said.
He wouldn't reveal his rotation, but it seems certain Masato Yoshii (12-8) will start against Maddux (19-9) in Tuesday's series opener at Turner Field.
Valentine hinted he's thinking of moving up Al Leiter to Game 3 and dropping back Kenny Rogers. Rick Reed could wind up pitching Game 2 or Game 4.
"The real decision in Game 3," Valentine said. "Al would be on his regular rest. If we could have Al for 3 and 7 on regular rest, then that's something maybe we want to do. But I want to talk to everyone about that."
There was no big news on the status of Piazza's swollen left thumb.
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