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Saturday, December 03, 2011

NYBD: Silva: The Wild Ride of Bobby Valentine and Steve Phillips

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.”

Repoz Posted: December 03, 2011 at 04:39 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: announcers, business, media, mets, red sox, television

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   1. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: December 03, 2011 at 05:39 PM (#4005697)
Any guesses on what players were most hostile to the presence of Olerud's wife? Hmmm, did she disapprove of in-game clubhouse card games?
   2. Sam M. Posted: December 03, 2011 at 06:26 PM (#4005719)
It's almost impossible to overstate the point made here: the course of the Mets for the entire decade would have been completely different if Phillips wouldn't have been a turd, and made it clear that any player's wife was welcome on any trip, and that any player(s) who objected better STFU. God, what an idiot. The 2000 team would have been much better. No Mo Vaughn; everything is just different with 2-3 more years of Olerud.
   3. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: December 03, 2011 at 06:42 PM (#4005734)
Agreed, Sam. Let's remember too that Zeile did what he could to help his new club. Although a downgrade from Olerud, much of what he did for the Rangers in '99 was replicated in Flushing the following season. Also, wasn't Ventura his BFF?
   4. base ball chick Posted: December 03, 2011 at 07:28 PM (#4005784)
???bringing his wife on raid trips????

does this mean on the team plane? or do they mean that the team believes that any ballplayer's wife has no right to drive/fly to any city she wants and watch any ballgame she wants and spend the nights with her husband in his hotel room? seeing as how they don't make major leaguers share hotel rooms any more.

how is it any of their damm business what someone who is not employed by the team does with her own time and money?
   5. Sam M. Posted: December 03, 2011 at 07:40 PM (#4005796)
how is it any of their damm business what someone who is not employed by the team does with her own time and money?


Because they think that one player's wife will be watching what goes on during road trips, and they suspect she'll report back to other players' wives about what she saw them doing. The last thing they want is to be bringing some . . . um, lady they picked up at a bar or strip joint and be seen with her by Mrs. Olerud in the hotel lobby on the way up to their room.

So of course, Phillips sided with the man-whores.
   6. PreservedFish Posted: December 03, 2011 at 07:55 PM (#4005808)
Olerud left was because “some players on the team didn’t like that he brought his wife on road trips.”


There is, of course, no way on earth that this is the entire story. At the time of the move there were a number of articles about Olerud choosing his hometown, and a number of nice quotes from his wife and mother about the importance of raising a grandchild near family. This wasn't all BS. And of course, I don't really believe that this single issue could possibly have been so black and white - neither that this one thing would have driven Olerud away, nor that Bobby could had fixed it simply if he were not obstructed by Phillips. Finally, money was apparently a factor, and from what I can tell the Mets would only match the Mariners' initial offer.

But the takeaway is still this: Phillips was an ass. A couple weeks later they signed Zeile for the same amount of money that they offered Olerud, which is, to put it simply, evidence of an insanely flawed system. In one of the articles I read yesterday, written a day or two after Olerud's departure, Phillips said that it was "fun" to learn that Olerud was gone, because it meant that he had to get creative in his offseason. I don't think Bobby V's story is a real smoking gun, but it's just a bit more support for my opinion that Phillips was, for unfathomable reasons, basically uninterested in retaining Olerud.
   7. bobm Posted: December 03, 2011 at 07:57 PM (#4005809)
how is it any of their damm business what someone who is not employed by the team does with her own time and money?


Because they think that one player's wife will be watching what goes on during road trips, and they suspect she'll report back to other players' wives about what she saw them doing. The last thing they want is to be bringing some . . . um, lady they picked up at a bar or strip joint and be seen with her by Mrs. Olerud in the hotel lobby on the way up to their room.

So of course, Phillips sided with the man-whores.


That's just one of the important lessons about baseball that Steve Phillips learned from the movie Major League.
   8. bobm Posted: December 03, 2011 at 08:13 PM (#4005820)
[6]
There is, of course, no way on earth that this is the entire story. At the time of the move there were a number of articles about Olerud choosing his hometown, and a number of nice quotes from his wife and mother about the importance of raising a grandchild near family. This wasn't all BS.


Olerud was far from being Mike "Colorado has great schools" Hampton.

http://www.newsday.com/sports/spring-training-on-the-road-again-olerud-questions-time-1.339841


NEWSDAY
SPRING TRAINING / On the Road Again / . . . Olerud questions time
Published: March 27, 1999 7:00 PM
By Marty Noble. STAFF CORRESPONDENT

Port St. Lucie - A placid, unbothered man, John Olerud nonetheless has become wary of road trips this season, unsettled by the very notion of being away from home. The Mets first baseman is about to begin his 10th season in the big leagues, and now, more than ever, he wants to be where his heart is.

And so he looks to June with some trepidation. A Mets trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis begins June 14 and lasts a week. Then, after a day off at home and three home games, the team travels to Atlanta and Miami. Eighteen days, 14 on the road. And, in all likelihood, Olerud will spend all 18 without his son.

It is a pending void he could comfortably do without. A .300 career hitter, Olerud has scant experience with o-fors, particularly those of such duration and import.

Garrett John Olerud was born Sept. 10 last year, and since then, he and his father, John Garrett Olerud, have been separated for no longer than four days. The same September schedule that proved unkind to the Mets was father-friendly for Olerud. As a result, Papa John has been on hand for most of Garrett's firsts and become quite accustomed to being a constant influence in his son's development.

But now, the demands of a baseball season are going to change the dynamic. Eighty-four games in New York, including three games at Yankee Stadium, and 78 away. And even the homestands won't necessarily afford the Olerud family a sense of routine.

Spring training has been an extension of the winter for John, wife Kelly and 6-month-old Garrett. They have lived in a condominium within a five-minute drive of the Mets' training camp complex. The routine of camp has allowed the family to maintain a relatively normal schedule for Garrett.

The regular season is routinely disruptive to personal life, though.

Five cities in 18 days isn't recommended for anyone, much less an infant. Diapers fit in carry-ons, stability doesn't fit even in oversized suitcases. Kelly Olerud accompanied her husband on more than half the trips during his first two years with the Mets. Garrett will travel neither as well nor as much.

And so his father laments. "It's not something I look forward to," he says with a tad more expression than usually is evident in his 30-year-old face.

Olerud knows he isn't alone in that sense. Despite the playful protestations of coach Bruce Benedict - "We realize John is the only ballplayer who's ever had a baby," Benedict says - he knows others have to deal with absence. But that makes it no easier for him.

Fatherhood has been a fascinating and comfortable fit for him, an experience filled with revelations. Before the birth of Garrett John, John Garrett recognized he would have a life to mold; he hadn't realized elements of his own life would be recast by his son. And now he doesn't want to be denied even a day of that rewarding reciprocal arrangement.

"You learn about your son and yourself," the father said last week.

"I learned how much my parents care about me. You don't really know until you have your own kid. I didn't know I was capable of those kinds of feelings. I heard about unconditional love. I didn't know it would be the way it is."

Olerud didn't know he could be awakened from sound sleep at 2 a.m. and find reward in the interruption. He didn't know little smiles could so readily prompt a crack in his often-stoic expression.

"The Bible discusses the relationship of father and son," he said. "I've never been the father in a father-son relationship. It brings home the point of how much God loves me and how my parents love me.

"It's a new experience to love unconditionally . . . I mean, what has he done to earn my love? Absolutely nothing. If anything, he's an inconvenience. He wakes us up. We just can't `Let's go catch dinner and a movie' anymore because of him. He restricts what we can do. But in spite of that, I love him. I don't resent anything."

Even on those occasions when Garrett demands middle-of-the-night attention, "I can't believe the urgency I feel to get up and get him."

But truth be known, John doesn't always respond. "I'll wake up at 5 in the morning and say, `Kelly, did we miss the 2 o'clock feeding?' And she'll say, `We didn't!' But I try to help as much as I can . . . when I'm awake."

And when he's around. But the season mandates absence. Kelly and Garrett probably will spend those 18 June days together in Washington visiting two sets of grandparents. John will experience 18 days of withdrawal. "He's such a great kid to be around," he said.

The changes and strains of a season will teach the Oleruds more about their son and about themselves. You win some, you lose some and some get rained out. There are day games, night games and extra innings.

And if some are rained out, the dreaded doubleheader will appear on the schedule. The Mets have played only one in Garrett Olerud's time. So he'll have to learn, too, learn to adjust, just like a hitter. "We'll have to get him started early," Olerud said.

What Garrett thinks of all this is not known. Said his father, "He's not talking to the media."
   9. depletion Posted: December 04, 2011 at 01:08 AM (#4006100)
The last thing they want is to be bringing some . . . um, lady they picked up at a bar or strip joint and be seen with her by Mrs. Olerud in the hotel lobby on the way up to their room

Not only that, but if one guy takes his wife along, many of the other wives are going to want to go along also. I still think it's a garbage reason.
   10. Twoey Guillen Posted: December 04, 2011 at 03:04 AM (#4006175)
The plain truth is that Olerud wanted out when Rickey told John's wife that he knew a girl who looked just like her who was banging her husband when they were both with Toronto. Of course, things got more complicated when he repeated the story when Rickey and John were reunited with the Mariners the very next year.
   11. Darren Posted: December 04, 2011 at 04:08 AM (#4006204)
10 is funny.
   12. Something Other Posted: December 04, 2011 at 06:11 AM (#4006325)
10 IS funny.

Speaking of banging people who aren't your wife, the below is part of Herman Cain's speech giving up his shot at the nomination.

"I have made many mistakes in life -- everybody has. I made mistakes professionally, personally, as a candidate, in terms of how I run my campaign. And I take responsibility or the mistakes that I have made," he said. "But because of these false and unproved accusations, it has … had a tremendous painful price on my family."


In other words, said Cain, "I'm not responsible for effing anything, but all that #### I used to do is catching up with me, and I would have gotten away with it if you pricks hadn't caught me. Damn you."

Never mind the road trips, I'm not surprised Phillips didn't seem to appreciate Olerud the player. Intelligently evaluating major league talent wasn't in Phillips' wheelhouse.
   13. bobm Posted: December 04, 2011 at 06:36 AM (#4006341)
[12] Intelligently evaluating major league talent wasn't in Phillips' wheelhouse.

With the Mets or at ESPN? :)
   14. Sam M. Posted: December 04, 2011 at 08:00 AM (#4006378)
With the Mets or at ESPN? :)


Yes.

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