Thursday, October 27, 2005

Winning the Series.........


The Japan series that is.

Last night the Chiba Marines beat the Hanshin Tigers . The Marines swept the Tigers in four games to claim their first championship in 31 years. Valentine says his club has what it takes to compete against either of this year's World Series combatants, the Chicago White Sox and the Houston Astros.

The 55-year-old manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines issued a challenge Wednesday to the winner of the World Series: "Let's do battle in a real World Series." According to him:
Valentine, who on Wednesday became the first foreigner to manage a team to a Japan Series title, says the level of play in Japan has risen to that in North America and the time has come for a best-of-seven series between the Japanese champions and the World Series champions. "I'm not talking about an All-Star game, I'm talking about two battle-proven teams who have played a season and know how to play baseball, "Valentine said. "If our owner was to put up a pot of money and challenge the owner of the World Series team, it could happen," he said. `"Hey, I bet you $50 million (5.5 billion yen), winner takes all.' I'd even bet my salary against theother manager's salary. And I bet I'm making more than they are."

He probably is. This is his second stint managing a Japanese team. From Japundit:
Nine years ago, the Marines hired Valentine in a desperate attempt to jump start their baseball club out of the second division of the six-team Japanese Pacific League and into contention. Valentine was hand-picked by then-Marines General Manager Tatsuro Hirooka, who took a chance with a gaijin (foreign) manager, even though Hirooka had a reputation as a strong proponent of the Japanese samurai-style of baseball.
Valentine applied American coaching techniques that were more laid back and otherwise quite different from the traditional Japanese play-til-you-die approach. For this he was often criticized here by purists (including Hirooka, it is reported) who thought the American way would make their players fat and lazy.

Why they hired an experienced American manager when they wanted the team managed in the “Japanese style” is one of the biggest mysteries of the whole saga. Though Valentine was second-guessed by the front office virtually every step of the way, he led his charges to a second-place finish, marking only the second time the Marines finished in the top three in theprevious 20 years. Despite all of Valentine’s success with the team, despite the fact that the fans loved his “Bobby Magic,” and despite the fact that home game attendance increased by 17 percent over the previous year — the Marines showed Bobby Valentine the door.

After 7 seasons with the non-Steinbrenner team (NY Mets). He came back to the Marines after they had spent 7 years in the cellar and realized that maybe the good Mr. Valentine did know a thing or two about baseball after all.

Valentine has become the first gaijin manager to win a Japan Series in the 70-year history of Japanese baseball.

So maybe he is right, its time for a Japan/USA World Series.......




One other side note about the Hanshin Tigers. They failed to reverse the curse of the Colonel. In 1985, the Tigers took the CL pennant and won the Japan Series. After they clinched the flag, a statue of Colonel Sanders was uprooted from its home in front of an Osaka KFC restaurant by celebrating fans and was joyously dumped in the river. The Colonel hasn't been seen since and Hanshin has never won another Japan Series.

Oh yea, over on the wrong side of the Pacific, the White Sox also won that other thing....... some no name baseball championship.

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