Bobby Valentine has been in baseball over 42 years. He's managed in major league baseball for the Texas Rangers and New York Mets. Most recently, however, Valentine also spent six years managing in Japan for the Chiba Lotte Marines, an experience he called "a magic carpet ride."
Last week upon his return to the states Valentine began working as an ESPN baseball analyst, although he admits he's not really well versed in what's been going on the American game since he left.
Thursday, the 59-year old came to Cleveland to interview for the Indians vacant managerial job.
After meeting with key members of the Indians front office for six hours, Valentine spent a little over 30 minutes taking questions from the media in the late afternoon. At times long-winded and at others fall-off-your-chair hilarious, find below some of the questions to Valentine and his responses.
Q) Why are you interested in managing the Indians?
"When you go to work, it's not about where you're going to work, it's about who you're going to work with. I'm looking for a good group of people, and from what I've seen so far, they really have a good group of people here. (People who) would make my going to work challenging, enjoyable and something to look forward to everyday."
Q) What do you remember about Cleveland before you left to manage in Japan?
"Before I left the states, Cleveland was a progressive-thinking organization that signed young guys for longer terms than anyone was.
"It was an organization who built a new stadium in a city that had that mistake on the lake and then all of a sudden filled the stadium everyday for 500 days. It was the envy of all the baseball world. That somehow there was some magic performed in Cleveland. Everyone was envious of that. And I, from afar, was one of them."
Q) How did it strike you when told you would meet with the media on your interview?
"(Long pause). Well, it strikes me as part of a very organized culture. I think a lot of places you kind of sneak into and out of town...This kind of gets it right out in the open. And I think that's very up front and very creative."
Q) How did Japanese baseball change you?
" I had a six-year love affair with the game of baseball in another country. Their baseball society is something that should be kept forever. Women play it, kids play it. They still have bicycles with gloves on the handle bars and still have dad's pitching to kids in the park and kids throwing balls against the wall. There's 125 million people in the country who 90 percent of them follow their professional or high school baseball teams.
"It's (a country) that cherishes and loves baseball, and I do, too...Leaving there was a very emotional time of my life. I don't think that experience can ever be duplicated. I hope that it can be here or somewhere else in my life."
Q) How did you connect so well with their fans?
"I really have no clue. I don't know. And when I look back at it, I'm amazed...We didn't do well this year, (yet) there's 30,000 people standing on the last day of the season."
Q) What do you know about the Cleveland Indians?
I haven't been following these teams as much I like to think I should. And I don't know as much about Cleveland as someone interviewing for these jobs probably should. And I could have crammed for the last six days, read every article, called every friend and read every bit of information - but I didn't. I don't know much about the American League, about the Central and I don't know about the Indians. But I sure as hell am willing to learn."
Q) Why interested in a rebuilding job at this stage in your career?
"I've managed 3,500 games and if you count the ones in Japan, about 1,600 victories. I love the fact that I've had that opportunity. I cherish the thought of having another opportunity to manage a major league team."
Q) How will handle the potential of losing (while rebuilding)?
"It's probably the thing I do worst. And I really am a lousy loser."
Q) Would you change the way manage in the major leagues after your experience in Japan?
"There's a lot of things from Japan I would like to bring here. When you go out to argue with the umpires they give you five minutes to do it a two-minute warning...If you stay the same you go backwards. I think I have changed. I think I have learned. So, I probably would in some way."
Q) What do you have to catch up on since being gone?
"I have to catch up on at least four years worth of the new statistical information and abbreviations there are. I think I have to brush up on six years worth of players who have entered the league - a whole generation...And I think I have to get abreast of the drug situation. This thing that happened (the Steroid Era), I guess I was part and parcel to it. I didn't really know what going on right under my nose."
Q) Why should the Indians hire you?
"Because I do a good job of being a manager...in Japan they call it a director. And I really think I am a director, I can put things in place well. And I can adjust the volume of the orchestra. And I can put the right sounds in the right places, and the right instruments in the right right places to make a sound that's really pleasing to the ear."