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.
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.