Good, then he’ll be happy.
Every decision [Bobby] Valentine makes, every utterance, every laugh (Was it a chuckle or a cackle? Cutting or well-meaning?) is subject to interpretation. It’s an ongoing soap opera, and for players it is an immensely challenging phenomenon.
Al Leiter, now an analyst for the YES Network, lived through it when he pitched under Valentine with the Mets from 1998-2002…
“Anytime that a player has to answer to things that don’t relate to that player’s job and the tasks that he’s trying to perform on the field and there’s the exterior stuff, it doesn’t enable a guy to focus the way he should to be the best you can be. It’s not a good thing,” Leiter said last week. “[Players try to] ignore it.
“But then you have a cold, bitter clubhouse, because [members of the media] are trying to find answers, and [players] are trying to hide, because they know what the eventual questions are going to be. After you ask about that night’s game, the hanging slider for a double down the line, then it’s, ‘What do you think?’ Even if their answers are no comment, or whatever it is to not get in trouble, it’s still there. They know they can’t [comment honestly] because it’s a hot-button topic.”
... “Not just for him, but for people who are creative, who aren’t guarded, who aren’t careful with being themselves—[the impact of social media] applies to anybody in a position that potentially has a microphone put in front of their face. Bobby’s one of them,” Leiter said. “And then it becomes, ‘Wow, that was a little odd.’
“Cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, that have a number of media outlets, it probably would be better to have someone who a) knows what they’re doing as a manager but b) is less inclined to put their foot in their mouth…
“You win, there’s less B.S. If you’re winning, the numbers are right for most of the guys in the clubhouse, so guys are happy,” Leiter said.
But when the Mets ran off the rails in a 75-86 season in 2002, the balancing act no longer worked. Players could no longer brush off the controversies surrounding Valentine.
“You’re losing, so it’s already depressing. You know it’s all negative talk, so you’ve got to turn the radio off. You can’t listen to the radio, you can’t read the paper, because you know it can’t be any good. You’re 16 1/2 games back,” said Leiter. “This is a team that underperformed. I’m pissed off.
“Getting to that place, getting to that space, getting that clear mind—it’s not easy.”