Work in Sports
Penn student admits making up Valentine's quotes
Posted: Monday April 17, 2000 12:44 PM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A University of Pennsylvania student who posted comments attributed to New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine on the team's Web site said many of the quotes were fabricated.
He apologized to the team and its fans, and added that, "much of the information included in the post was not factual."
"If I were to know that the post would end up in the hands of the vast media, I would never have made such a post," the student, who identified himself only by his screen name, Brad34, wrote on the Web site Sunday.
Valentine spoke to students at Penn's Wharton School of Business on Wednesday. He addressed the team's failure to sign Japanese reliever Kazuhiro Sasaki and criticized outfielder Rickey Henderson and former Mets player Bobby Bonilla. He also questioned the league's handling of Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker.
After the Penn student posted what he claimed were Valentine's comments on the Web site late Wednesday or early Thursday, the manager said his comments were misrepresented and several newspapers reported conflicting versions of his comments.
"Pretty much, what I wrote was intended for an audience that would be entertained by the notions that were alluded to in the posting," the student wrote. "They were certainly not made to be taken as verbatim and the spoken word of Mr. Valentine."
He also wrote that the only inflammatory remarks made by Valentine were about Henderson and, "it was CLEARLY in jest."
On Monday morning, The Daily Pennsylvanian, the school's student newspaper, reported verbatim portions of Valentine's remarks, based on an audio tape of part of the speech.
The newspaper said Valentine had sent an e-mail to the newspaper's reporter, Laura Spadanuta, asking her not to release the taped comments. Spadanuta, a student, called him back and told him that her editor would have to decide what to do about the tape.
"I was a proponent during the offseason to say, `Let's boost our bullpen,'" Valentine said of Sasaki. "I thought that if we can sign this kid Sasaki, who's a free agent, it would have cost us no talent, just a little money, and we would have one heck of a baseball team right now. But the group who makes the decisions decides that wasn't a good idea."
Sasaki eventually signed with the Seattle Mariners.
As for Bonilla, Valentine said, "He found his stroke and lost 45 pounds. That makes a big difference. There seems to be commitment this year, interestingly enough, because he's without a contract this year."
Bonilla is batting .273 while playing regularly for the Atlanta Braves this season.
Mets general manager Steve Phillips flew from New York to Pittsburgh on Friday to talk to Valentine. Phillips said he was satisfied with Valentine's explanation.
In comments about Henderson, Valentine related a story in which Henderson asked for the sports section of The Wall Street Journal, which does not have a sports section.
"Worldly, he's worldly," he said dryly.
He also joked about dealing with Henderson.
"I just ignore him as much as I can," he laughed. "Seriously, the personality of Rickey ... it's the same personality that we all have, probably that he's always had."
Rocker was originally suspended for one month for racist comments he made about New York fans in a magazine interview. His suspension was later reduced to two weeks.
Valentine said he was "disappointed in the way the league handled" the matter and "in the way the players association got involved."
"I personally am totally in favor of free speech in our country, whether you're in a baseball uniform or whether you're in a postman's uniform," he said. "I thought John Rocker's situation should have been handled by his team and his teammates."
Valentine called Rocker's remarks "appalling," but said he doesn't think "there's any disciplinary act from the supreme ruler of our game that should have been handed down. I don't particularly like the thought that ... something I say here might be held against me by the commissioner of baseball."
The university's television station said it taped Valentine's speech, but it was unclear if the station still has it. The newspaper reported Valentine contacted the group that organized the event -- Wharton Wide World of Sports -- and asked that all copies be given to him.
The student who started the controversy described himself as "an avid Mets fan who follows the team everyday both during the season and during the offseason."
"I interpreted Mr. Valentine's general comments about the daily business of baseball and applied them to my personal knowledge and sentiments about the team," the student wrote in his second posting, saying he would have never done that if he had known how widely it would be read.
"Don't bother contacting me for future comments," the student said. "This is the truth and I wish I could have foreseen such consequences so I could have nipped this in the bud."