Valentine Asked to Resign

The Japan Times‘ Jason Coskrey reported today that Chiba Manager Bobby Valentine, with whom we were lucky enough to have a chat back in July, told reporters on Tuesday that a Marines official asked him to resign back in late July.

Valentine broke the news while chatting with the reporters about the possibility of his managing Japan’s national baseball team in the World Baseball Classic. Of the top spot at Team Japan, Valentine said:

If I knew I was going to be in Japan for many, many years to come, I would be pursuing that job very fiercely.
Because I think I can do a good job. But as many of you know, there’s some people in our organization who want me to resign. You know it wouldn’t be good (to manage the WBC team) if I wasn’t going to be a Japanese manager for a long time.

He reiterated his desire to stay with the Marines, though, saying:

As I mentioned, I’d like to manage here for a very long time. That’s my desire. Everybody knows how much I love Japanese baseball, how much I love my team and how much I love the fans of the Chiba Lotte Marines, but of course that’s not my decision.

However, Chiba’s acting owner, Akio Shigemitsu, reportedly told Valentine to stay on.

The Marines may be having a lackluster season, but Bobby Valentine is clearly a valuable commodity beyond the on-field performance of his team. Perhaps only Rakuten can boast a skipper with the celebrity or popularity of Valentine. Few, though, have done as much for the Japanese game in recent years.

With sclerotic business practices and the continued stranglehold of Yomiuri over most of NPB, a figure like Valentine is absolutely necessary to keep baseball vibrant, growing, and improving in Japan.

If he’s unable to stay on at Chiba, we here at the Tsubamegun would be positively gleeful to see Tokyo sign him up. Chiba Marine Stadium is out in Ichihara – not exactly accessible and the Chiba Lotte Marines are relatively new (in this incarnation), yet the team has a strong following, steadily increasing attendance, improving TV deals, and is on the up overall. While this might not all have come straight from Bobby, he’s the driving force out there. There are not many managers who will even know how to go about trying to fill his shoes. Here’s hoping he sticks around in Chiba (or gets a good, multi-year offer from the Swallows.)

And, yes, for those of you who are wondering, we did record interviews on July 17th and we will release them soon.

  • Obsolute madness if he is ousted. He brings/has brought so much to that organization that he deserves to survive his first “blip” results-wise.

    Long may he remain in Japan. I’d be the first there to roll out the red carpet at Jingu if he came to manage Tokyo, but I think that’s only slightly more likely than me getting the job given the boneheaded nature of our front office.

  • After all, the Swallows’ front office hate you fans. 😉

  • Too true, too true.

    I’d expect our front office to hire someone based on his solid performance in an entirely different job.

    Wait. . . They did that.

    To top it, they’ll have to hire someone who was really up on rugby in the ’70s as kantoku.

    Given what he hinted to the press, it seems unclear whether Chiba’s front office was simply dissatisfied with results or with some other sort of conflict. After all, results weren’t the whole story when he left in the ’90s.

    Sounds like Shigemitsu’s got his back, though, so he shouldn’t be going anywhere soon.

  • Ken

    You gotta be shittin’ me. Owner backs a guy and management has to be 100% on board. They should be asking disloyal management to resign.

    I’d expect our front office to hire someone based on his solid performance in an entirely different job.

    So did NPB, but I think they made a good choice.

  • So did NPB, but I think they made a good choice.

    Good point there, Ken. I’m not sure which is a bigger leap: Diplomacy to Commissioner or front office to field.

    Perhaps unfortunately for both Shigemitsu and Valentine, Shigemitsu is not the outright owner, but rather the acting head of the team on behalf of a web of interested parties. Not sure what that does to his influence or clout. Of course, I’m also not at all sure how much pressure was put on Valentine or exactly what the reasons were for the request being made, or even whether the request was deadly serious or bad management, as in trying to motivate him. There’s certainly no shortage of middle managers across the land who have only threats in their motivational tool bag.

  • The part of this whole story that I’d read in Nikkan Sports was:

    “Because I think I can do a good job. But as many of you know, there’s some people in our organization who want me to resign. You know it wouldn’t be good (to manage the WBC team) if I wasn’t going to be a Japanese manager for a long time.”

    I thought that this whole business of being asked to resign wasn’t a direct quote until I went to the Japan Times article.

    Bobby is a wonderful, passionate, and somewhat difficult personality – all at the same time. I can see why some people (middle managers who couldn’t care less for baseball) would want to see him go. But I can’t imagine anyone who loves baseball in that organization will be anything but 100% behind him.

    Dilbert-like management is pervasive. When Valentine-kantoku has said some things in the past (like Lotte sponsoring a Shikoku Island League team), the PHBs immediately went into damage control mode rather than taking the idea and running with it. PHBs just don’t get that bottom-up ideas are better than top-down – most likely because then they wouldn’t be needed.

    My guess about the source of the request to step down in July was another boisterous “suggestion” by Bobby in front of the press that the PHBs just don’t get.

  • Well put, Mr. Westbay.

    One would think, though, that even PHBs who don’t give a fig for baseball would understand how valuable Bobby has been to that organization as a business. That increase in attendance and, by extension, revenue would not have occurred with any other person at the helm of that team.

    Then again, there are many, many middle managers in Japan who have no idea what’s good or bad for business, only what does or does not threaten their little fiefdoms and what does or does not agree with what they’ve always believed.

  • Ken

    “The Chiba Lotte Marines have decided not to offer Bobby Valentine a contract extension after his current four-year deal expires at the end of 2009 season, the former New York Mets manager said Sunday.”

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/baseball/mlb/12/22/valentine.japan.ap/index.html

    Hopefully the Red Sox have a position open for him. We might be in need of a right fielder in 2010.

  • Apparently Bobby’s 4- or 5-oku salary and butting heads with others in management has something to do with it (from Yomiuri Shimbun today).

  • Bad news for Chiba. It’s a business and Bobby V. is by far the most popular personality associated with the Marines.