Let it be said that Bobby Valentine has always had a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to the New York Yankees. At least that’s how it seemed when he was the manager of the New York Mets from 1996-2002 and again when he joined the Boston Red Sox in the same capacity for that forgettable 2012 season. He’s always had a score to settle with the Bronx Bombers, ever since they defeated his Mets 4-1 in the 2000 World Series, but there are some things that just do not need to be involved in his rivalry.
For example, volunteer efforts and community service in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Valentine would eventually receive Major League Baseball’s Branch Rickey Award in 2002 for his own efforts in helping the people of New York City and beyond, but 12 years later, as he discussed that horrible day on New York’s WFAN radio, it was still about the Yankees.
“Let it be said that during the time from 9/11 to 9/21, the Yankees were (not around),” Valentine told Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Wednesday. “You couldn’t find a Yankee on the streets of New York City. You couldn’t find a Yankee down at Ground Zero, talking to the guys who were working 24/7.”
He added: “Many of them didn’t live here, and so it wasn’t their fault. And many of them did not partake in all that, so there was some of that jealousy going around. Like, ‘Why are we so tired? Why are we wasted? Why have we been to the funerals and the firehouses, and the Yankees are getting all the credit for bringing baseball back?’ And I said ‘This isn’t about credit, guys. This is about doing the right thing.’” (Via CBS New York)
The Yankees also hit the road for their next series on 9/14, but for a complete breakdown of Valentine’s inaccurate and insulting memory of the healing process in the days and weeks after 9/11, Barry Petchesky at Deadspin has a good refresher course that includes stories of the Yankees stars interacting with first responders and families.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how Valentine responds to the social media backlash, as well as the fury of sports talking heads like Keith Olbermann, who has already Tweeted that he’ll be discussing Valentine on his ESPN 2 show tonight. Or, most importantly, to the Yankees, as team president Randy Levine has already issued his own response:
“Bobby Valentine should know better than to be pointing fingers on a day like today,” Levine said in a phone conversation. “Today is a day of reflection and prayer. The Yankees, as has been well documented, visited Ground Zero, the Armory, the Javits Center, St. Vincent’s Hospital and many other places during that time. We continue to honor the 9/11 victims and responders.
“On this day, he would have been better to have kept his thoughts to himself rather than seeking credit, which is very sad to me.” (Via ESPN)
I think the important lesson here is that it’s time for people to stop talking to Bobby Valentine.