Monday, July 18, 2011

Bobby E

Last night on the ESPN broadcast, Bobby Valentine told a story from his playing days. We all know the drill: when ex-players tell stories about old games, they seem to get the facts right about 1 to 1.3 percent of the time, with the exception of Dennis Eckersley, whose alien creators blessed him with the uncanny ability to remember every minor detail from every game he ever played in.

Since Bobby V. may in fact have been dropped off by the craft that spawned Eck, I figured his story might be fairly accurate. Besides, he actually concluded the tale with a "you can look it up."

Turns out that was his fatal flaw. I looked it up. His version of events was that he was on the Mariners in 1979, and after the third catcher got hurt, his manager, Darrell Johnson, asked if he could play catcher. Bobby, having never even put on a mask in his life, said Sure, got behind the plate in the 6th inning, and caught the last three innings.

It was easy to find the game in question. He did catch just one time in his major league career--on August 17, 1979 with the Johnson-managed Mariners. But as you can see, he pinch-hit for the catcher in the eighth, then caught the ninth. That's one inning by my count. So he's way off there. And I don't know if he meant that three catchers had gone down in that game, but the truth is that the M's used two catchers that year, and only one had played in the game in question before Bobby replaced him. That same catcher came back the next night and had four at bats. The other catcher also didn't seem to miss any extra time. So I don't know why Johnson kept Valentine in there on defense instead of switching to the other catcher (though after reading Game Six, it doesn't exactly baffle me). But I do know his story is...say it with me...bullshit.

And if you think I'm nitpicking, remember, he challenged the audience to look it up, he was so certain.

Later, he said he only got "stuck" with a non-catcher behind the plate in his managerial career one time, with the Mets, and Matt Franco the one forced to catch. A quick check at Franco's career stats showed he never appeared as a catcher in a major league game, though he did pitch twice during Valentine's reign, which could have been what he was thinking of or meant to say.

In closing, terrible job, Bobby V, for effing with Carl Everett that time. And also for getting facts wrong.

you tell 'em, jere!
Bobby V's BB-Reference page actually lists him as catching two games in 1979, although a search of the game logs for that season reveals only the game that you cited. And Bob Stinson, who started that 8/17 game, actually was the Mariners' backup catcher that season; it appears that the starting catching, Larry Cox, did not play most of that week, starting on the 15th through the 18th. So, apparently Cox was unavailable to come into the game to catch that day, either because of a minor injury, or some other reason. Bobby V is a little bit too much in love with the sound of his own voice, and he shouldn't have told the story with such certainty when he didn't remember correctly how many innings he actually caught. But, yeah, you're still kinda nitpicking.

And I can't blame Bobby V. for pointing out that Carl Everett's batting stance was illegal. If anybody besides Everett was a villain that day, it was Ron Kulpa for exaggerating his reaction to Everett's bump. And, you know, there's the whole "Crazy Carl is a homophobic, child-abusing, asshole" thing too.
I found two other games where he pinch hit for the catcher in the 9th and no defensive replacement was needed because the game ended. Maybe that explains his "2nd" catching game? Once he got on and was pinch run for. So one of those 2 counts as a game catching. I guess.
So Bob Stinson was the Replacement catcher?
Excellent. Sadly, there were no Matts in this game. And Stinson never played for the Twins.

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