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Bobby Valentine was done dirty by the Chiba Lotte Marines

Jan 18, 2010, 2:25 PM EDT

Robert Whiting wrote one of my favorite baseball books ever in You Gotta Have Wa.  Now he has the inside story of Bobby Valentine’s final days as the manager for the Chiba Lotte Marines.

On level it wasn’t personal, it was just business: the team and the
parent company was losing money and they just couldn’t justify paying
Valentine’s salary anymore. Fair enough. Happens all the time.  But the manner in which the team’s ownership went about ushering Valentine out the door was something new altogether.  It all got started when some fans didn’t take kindly to the news that the team’s owner, a man named Setoyama, wasn’t going to keep Valentine around:

Setoyama supporters within the organization, stunned
by the reaction of the fans, began a stealth smear campaign intended to
sully Valentine’s reputation. They whispered that he was taking
kickbacks from foreign players, that he had recruited one gaijin player
from a local bar, and that he had hired his own son to design new Lotte
uniforms, while collecting a hefty royalty on their sale.

They also claimed that he had sexually harassed Lotte
female employees, that he was anti-Japanese and even racist, noting he
used terms like “the f—–g Japanese way.”

The smears were untrue, and they were motivated by a desire to quell fan backlash over the team’s failure to extend Valentine’s contract and to maybe, just maybe, get Valentine to quit early and save the team some money. When some within the organization questioned whether such a strategy would work, the team’s owner was revealed to have said that “the fans are like carp, they will eat anything you feed them,” and “if we have unworthy fans like this, let’s just move our home stadium. It’s just a bunch of stupid Chiba fans anyway.”

This article is the first of a four-parter, and if the rest of the installments are this good, it’s definitely going to be a must read.  In any event, it’s the sort of thing that will put the various and sundry atrocities of the Royals and Pirates ownership in perspective.

  1. okobojicat - Jan 18, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    They had someone who was a “fortune teller” as their #3 in the front office!
    Neal Huntington, Ms. Cleo on line 2

  2. Jeff Jefferson - Jan 18, 2010 at 3:52 PM

    Gaijin are not now and never will be accepted in Japan. Valentine should have done some homework and realized that before he left AMerica.

  3. Old Gator - Jan 18, 2010 at 5:37 PM

    A Japanese Jeffrey Loria. Who could have conceived such a horrible thing? I thought those people were through imitating American products and busy coming up with better ones of their own.
    .
    Chiba stadium is almost as ugly as the Tropicana Tumulus, is located in one of the most out of the way districts in the Tokyo metropolitan area – they might as well have built it on Odo Island so Godzilla could stick his head in over the scoreboard from time to time and irradiate the few fans who were willing to come out that far back into their sampans – and on a day when the wind is in off the bay, is about as pleasant as Candlestick Park in the declining weeks of the Riis-Wurm interglacial.
    .
    Jeff Jefferson – Bobby Valentine was himself the most popular American in Japan since…uh, I dunno, Paul Tibbets. In any case when he was running the team, as forlorn a bunch of sad sacks as maybe the 2007 Mutts in September, he stared down at you from billboards all over Tokyo like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation. Moreover, Gaijin leading a winning team, or playing well, were widely accepted in Japanese fan circles – Orestes Destrade, before he became the preeminently disposable opening day first baseman on the freshly minted Floreeda Marleens – had such an enthusiastic following that a hit rock band named itself after him.
    .
    No doubt, what was done to Bobby Valentine was as heinous as what was done to the character in the Guy Fawkes mask in V for Vendetta. If Bobby had any sense of honor, he would have walked out to the mound, handed the umpire his lineup card, and committed seppuku. It sure worked for Yukio Mishima.

  4. Firearm - Jan 19, 2010 at 12:17 AM

    It’s like they’re *trying* to tick off their fans. I know where this is going… Let me guess, Niigata Lotte Marines?

  5. ken - Jan 22, 2010 at 12:44 AM

    At first glance, it might sound like Bobby was done in by “the Japanese system”. However, upon closer examination, you’ll see that he was really up against typically dirty ethnic Koreans. Not just the owner, Akio Shigemitsu (aka Shin Dong Bin) but also the front office club president Ryuzo Setoyama – one of those closeted Koreans waving a Japanese passport, the crazy fortune-teller lady Yoko Yoneda, as well as the front office #2 Ishikawa. Crazy x dirty x 100. Think Kim Jong Il x 3.

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