Another…Greatest Sports Argument Of All Time!
Steve Phillips and Bobby Valentine were reunited yesterday on the “Evan and Phillips Show” on Mad Dog Radio. It was a reunion of two men that appeared would never mend the fence after a tumultuous six years as the Mets GM/field manager combo. For as much criticism both Phillips and Valentine receive after the fact, they have the second best run in franchise history.
...Many point to Phillips firing Valentine’s coaches in June of 1999 as to when the relationship went sour. It was actually the departure of first baseman John Olerud after that season that rankled Valentine and created the divide the existed for the remainder of their tenure.
In October, I interviewed Bobby Valentine at the Hamptons Film Festival regarding his new movie “Pelotero,” which followed two young Dominican baseball players while they worked to achieve their dream of being signed by a professional club on their 16th birthday. I spent about 20 minutes recording an audio piece for my radio program and chatting with Valentine. He was probably one of the most engaging, honest, and interesting individuals I have met during my time covering baseball. When I mentioned to him that one of my favorite Mets teams was the ’99 squad, we talked a bit about that team. I went on to say that I thought it was a “mistake” to let John Olerud walk and replace him with Todd Zeile, but that from what I understood “Olerud and his family wanted to play in Seattle.” “Who told you that?” Valentine said. When I mentioned it was a fairly popular media talking point he told me the reason that Olerud left was because “some players on the team didn’t like that he brought his wife on road trips.” Valentine went on to add that he tried to intervene and talk to Olerud about the situation and find a way to correct it and ease any concerns, but Phillips wouldn’t allow it. Instead, he elected to sign Todd Zeile, a move that Valentine wasn’t thrilled about. “That’s when things started to go bad with me and Steve. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
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