The Zionist Conspiracy
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Bobby V, The Sports Media and Nice Guys
During Bobby Valentine's very successful tenure as manager of the Mets, several local sports columnists regularly took the opportunity to bash him. Those writers apparently had a personal dislike for Valentine, and let their personal sentiments affect their evaluation of Valentine's managerial performance.
Among the most prominent of these columnists was Murray Chass of The New York Times, who would regularly mock Valentine for never having finished in first place.
Bobby V recently led his Japanese team to victory in the Japan Series and is now the subject of interest from several major league teams, particularly the Dodgers. With Valentine back in the news, Chass couldn't resist resuming his jabs at him, writing today:
Wherever he manages, as long as he returns from Japan, Valentine can resume his pursuit of Jimmy Dykes's record of 2,962 games managed without finishing in first place. Even though he managed the Mets to the World Series in 2000, Valentine has never finished first and is second to Dykes with 2,189 games.
Never mind that Valentine managed the Mets from 1996-2002 (previously he managed the Texas Rangers) and nobody other than the Atlanta Braves has won the NL East since 1993. Never mind, also, that the 2000 Mets team that Valentine took to the World Series had an outfield of Timo Perez, Jay Payton and Benny Agbayani, or that Valentine turned no-names like pitcher Rick Reed into stars. He didn't finish in first place, and finishing first is what matters most to Chass ... except, of course, when it comes to teams like the Florida Marlins, who have never finished first but won two World Series titles, or the Boston Red Sox, who haven't found a way to defeat the Yankees in the AL East but won last year's World Series. Somehow, Chass never diminished the feats of those teams and/or their managers.
What's most galling about Chass is the way that he fawned over Willie Randolph throughout the 2005 season, even declaring that the Mets overachieved under Randolph.
In truth, this year's Mets were a flawed but pretty good team with talent similar to the other wild card contenders. If GM Omar Minaya had hired Valentine to manage them - as I pleaded last winter - the Mets would probably have won the wild card or at worst fallen a game or two short, and instead of writing that the Mets overachieved, Chass would have mocked Valentine further for failing to win the division.
The sports media's penchant for analyzing the success or failure of local managers and coaches based on personal feelings is outrageous. Randolph constantly marginalized young players who performed well like Aaron Heilman, and even dismissed David Wright's success until it became obvious that Wright is the Mets best hitter. Nobody criticized him for his because he's popular among the press. Jets coach Herm Edwards has for years gotten a pass for his awful game coaching because he's a nice guy. Former Nets coach Byron Scott is apparently not as nice, so he got lots of bad press despite taking the Nets to two consecutive trips to the NBA Finals in his first two seasons.
There was a time when this kind of biased coverage was more transparent, when sportswriters were usually objective but would gang up on a media-unfriendly coach when things started going badly. Now it's apparently all just a popularity contest.