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Bobby Valentine drops by Legend’s Sports Bar

by on Nov.22, 2009 @ 9:45 am, under Other

Bobby Valentine showed up at Legend's Sports Bar on Saturday night to meet with sports writers and fans for something of a mini-farewell party (he's also going to be at a charity auction dinner on the 23rd).

I ended up getting there a little late, but still managed to catch two interesting stories he had about the 2009 World Series.

The first story: he was shocked at the level of play of MLB baseball.  Specifically, he pointed to a play in game 4 where Johnny Damon stole second and ended up advancing to third.  He was surprised that there was no one covering the bag at third.  I think Bobby also mentioned that Lidge couldn't throw his slider because there was concern Ruiz wouldn't be able to block the ball properly.  And he was surprised about that because he never really had to worry about that with his catchers.

Now, before I get to the second story, I should mention that I'm a bit confused by Bobby's re-telling of the Damon play.  I actually didn't catch it so I rang it up on MLB.com and noticed that there wasn't a player anywhere near third to really make that play.

Here's the defense the Phillies set up for Teixeira: the infield was pulled all away around to the right -- Feliz (3B) was where the shortstop usually is, Rollins (SS) move to the other side of the second base bag, and Utley (2B) was playing deep in the pocket between Rollins and Howard (1B).

When the throw went to second, Feliz covered the bag, leaving the left side of the infield wide open.  But with Teixeira batting from the left-side, Feliz covering the bag actually made sense.  Of course, it also opened up the possibility for Damon to take third, which he did when came in off-line and did a one-hop.

Now I'm not quite sure if Bobby wanted Rollins to cover second with Feliz heading over to third on the play, but even then, I think that's a tough play to actually make.  And if Rollins is the one covering second, that kind of defeats the purpose of the shift.  But then maybe Bobby never puts on such an extreme shift.

The second story: he mentioned the camera over the right field fence and how the umps were going over the rules prior to game 3 and decided that any balls hitting the cameras would automatically be called home runs.  But Bobby also mentioned how the camera in left and the camera in right are set on different types of walls and that while a ball hitting a camera in left would be a home run, a ball hitting the camera in right wouldn't necessarily be a home run.

Lo and behold, A-rod hits a home run off the camera in right.  And the next day, the camera gets moved back.

Now, I actually had another confusing moment here with Bobby's storytelling.  He mentioned how the umps disappeared to check the video when they didn't have to, and probably didn't even bother to, because it was already known that any ball hit off a camera was a home run.  But in looking at the play again, I'd say the umps probably did have to take a look at the replay just to make sure the ball actually hit the camera.  Ok, minor point...

And I digress...

To get back on track, I found the stories to be quite entertaining.  And I'm guessing the 20-30 other people also enjoyed the anecdotes as well.

After the speech, the crowd sort of dispersed a bit.  Bobby spent the rest of the night talking to people and taking pictures with people who dropped by the bar.  By the time he left, he looked pretty beat.

In watching him interact with fans and strangers alike, Bobby is easily one of the nicest baseball people I've ever met.  It seems his door is always open and that he's always willing to see people.  I wish him the absolute best moving forward.  And I hope that one day soon he'll find himself back in Japan, managing another NPB team.

I know for sure that there will be plenty of fans, including myself, that laud his return.

9 comments on “Bobby Valentine drops by Legend’s Sports Bar

  1. Deanna

    I think Westbay actually taped the entire Bobby speech on his voice recorder (I thought about it but was really too far away to get clear sound). So you could probably listen to it again if you wanted.

    I watched parts of the World Series, when I was able to be at home at the right times, but didn’t see either of the plays in question, so it was hard to really judge. I heard about the A-Rod home run though. Crazy stuff.

    And yeah, I hope Bobby can come back here soon… he was definitely a bit beat, jetlagged, etc yesterday but you could tell he was overjoyed to be back in Japan.

    1. westbaystars

      Yes, I recorded it on my voice recorder, and he stands out over the rest of the voices and noise in the place. I was fortunate to be standing right next to him as he told his tales.

      Nonetheless, what he said was that he had his Marines practice exactly that play, so they knew exactly where to be to protect against a base stealer taking third. In general, the third baseman covers second (as he takes over the shortstop location), and the normal shortstop, shifted behind second base, covers third. Bobby did mention that he would make an exception with the Yankees and probably have Jeater (sp?) cover second instead.

      The interesting thing that he added was that Rollins (the Phillies’ shortstop) had told Bobby that he had been on the other end of the play – twice! That is, he’d stolen second and went on to third twice when he saw nobody covering there. How could the Phillies’ manager say that he’d never seen that play before if that was the case? That was a big part of the rant.

      “[R]outine baseball is really baseball. Hitting it over the fence is not really baseball.” – Bobby Valentine

      1. Gen Post author

        I wonder if Rollins would have been able to get to third in time to make that play though.

        As Yakamashii said, it might make more sense for the pitcher to cover third. Although I might be worried that the pitcher’ll get spiked or not be able to handle the throw properly.

        1. westbaystars

          It’s not about being there to make the play. It’s about having somebody near the bag to prevent the base stealer from even thinking about going to third.

          Bobby said that he had the Marines practice that play from the defensive side. When the runner breaks for second, the shortstop was supposed to move over toward third to protect against the possibility. I don’t think he was tasked with going all the way to third, just far enough that he could get there before the base runner if needed.

          Having the pitcher cover also sounds quite reasonable. He’d just need to take a few steps toward third to make sure that the runner knew his chances of taking another base would be slim.

          It’s kind of like “preventive lifeguarding.” A good lifeguard should never have to use the life saving techniques he/she has learned. This can be done by strictly enforcing simple poolside rules – like “no running” or “no diving in the shallow end.” Just by putting a fielder (shortstop or pitcher) near third base while the swipe of second is going on is an effective deterrent to prevent an attempt at third. Therefore, there would be no worries about handling a throw there or being spiked.

          1. Gen Post author

            Right, and I’m not disagreeing with you on having someone cover third. I’m just not entirely convinced Rollins covering third on that play would have prevented Damon from going.

            In order to prevent the runner from going, you need to make it appear as though the risk is too great. Otherwise why not take the gamble?

            A few screen caps to help illustrate my point.

            Here’s what the defense looked like as the pitcher threw home:

            Image 1

            Here we see where Rollins is as Damon is sliding into second.

            Image 2

            We can see Rollins legs in the upper portion of the screen as Damon pops back up.

            Image 3

            And finally we see the pitcher running toward third, but at this point it’s too late.

            Image 4

            Just before that, the pitcher was seen ducking out of the way to give the catcher a clean line of site to second.

            Image 5

            Assuming Rollins keeps on running without hesitation, I suppose it could keep Damon at second. But it wouldn’t be a guarantee. While Damon isn’t quite as fleet-footed as he used to be, he’s still pretty fast. If he felt that he could beat Rollins out, he could have just as easily taken off. And then there’s an immense amount of pressure to make the perfect play. That is, a number of things have to happen in order to get Damon out.

            Either Rollins needs to beat Damon to third, or he needs to catch the ball while he running toward third to try and tag Damon. Either way, it requires a perfect throw from Feliz. That’s going to be a really tough play to make.

            That’s where the pitcher might make more sense. But with the pitcher ducking out of the way and on the first base side of the mound, it’s entire possible that Damon is able to beat the pitcher out to third as well.

            Again, in order to prevent Damon from going, you have to make him think that advancing any further would be too much of a risk to take.

            So my question / argument here isn’t whether or not it’s important to try and get someone to third (because I agree that it’s important), it’s more about who would be most effective at covering third. I don’t know if Rollins covering third will always be the answer. In this case, maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. We’ll never know because he never tried to cover third.

            Does that mean you have both Rollins and the pitcher running toward third? I don’t know, maybe that’s the answer.

            Regardless, I’d love to see a team actually practicing this play — I think it would be a lot of fun to watch.

  2. Ken D.

    Great to hear Bobby was interacting with the fans. I really like that about him. Did he mention a specific reason for being in Japan (not that he isn’t allowed to go where he wishes…)?

    Having watched just about all of the World Series, the home run in question would have been a HR, camera or not. At least they eventually got the call right.

    I used to go Bobby’s bar in Connecticut all the time but rarely go now; it’s basically just another sports bar. Which reminds me, if any of you are ever in the NY/CT area I am always happy to meet other NPB fans.

    If you get any more Bobby news please let us know. Thanks!

    1. Gen Post author

      I’m not entirely positive, but I think the main reason for him being in Japan is for the charity auction on Monday. You can read more about it over here.

  3. yakamashii

    The pitcher could cover third on that steal play, and you can bet that will be a new part of everyone’s PFP going forth in 2010.

  4. yakamashii

    It’s up to the pitcher for me, and I think you’re right about just having him closer to third to pose a threat to trying to swipe two bags at once. Pitchers are taught to follow the ball in toward the plate when they throw one in the dirt with a runner on third; taking a few steps toward third with a shift on when a runner goes should not be a difficult thing to learn.

    All of this said, supposing the shortstop makes that move toward third base, who backs up a throw that just gets past the bag in that case?

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