"Nine times ... because he wants to show his teammates he's
Koga wants to
blame the Marines' hitting woes on Robson, the American hitting coach, but
Valentine won't let him. "He's a lazy gaijin, O.K., he is," Valentine
says of his friend, "but it doesn't mean that what he did last year was
wrong." He pauses. "This year no one wants to make a mistake. What the
f--- is that?"
Koga has no
answer. He frowns. Valentine frowns back. "Hey, we could go back to being
mediocre, I don't care," the manager says. "It's only my life's
chastises, he also tries to teach. He obviously likes Koga; he is just
frustrated by him. So Valentine hammers home the Bobby way. Koga asks about a
Marines prospect who's afraid to steal because he's not 100% sure he'll be
successful. "You must allow him to get picked off first base without saying
he's stupid or a rookie, so he knows how far to go without getting picked
off--so he has freedom," says Valentine. "It's like skiing. If you
always ski the easy run, you never learn. You must fall down to learn."
At one point
Valentine offers the team president job--currently held by Ryuzo Setoyama--to
Koga. "Hide, why don't you be my G.M.," Valentine says, pointing his
Kirin at Koga. "Think about it. I know you like to teach, I know they need
you. But the food's a lot better up here than in the minor leagues. Go on the
road with me, have nice dinners."
reluctant--he likes working with players--but Valentine says he'll come back to
him on it. More food comes, followed by more Kirin, and Valentine can't help
himself. "I'm not one to brag often ... O.K., all the time," he says.
He has to preach his gospel. He sits, legs spread, an alpha male in a position
of power, and holds forth: on old teams, old grudges and his players.
About his starting
shortstop, Tsuyoshi Nishioka: "He sucks this year. He's s---."
On Mitchell, the
former Giant who played briefly in Japan: "A great guy but the worst gaijin
ever to play here."
On why Kenji
Johima, the catcher for Mike Hargrove's Seattle Mariners, is platooning behind
the plate: "Because his manager's an idiot."
Three months later
the season is over and the U.S. is crazy about Japanese baseball, but not about
Valentine. Matsuzaka, the star pitcher for the Seibu Lions, dominates the news.
Valentine? He is mentioned as an outside candidate for the Giants and the
Washington Nationals jobs. But he is interviewed by neither team.