Sox gearing up for the Valentine experience

Valentine will be introduced to Red Sox Nation Thursday.
JEFF HAYNES/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Besides two World Series titles, the signature moment of Terry Francona’s Red Sox managerial career is the 2004 ALCS comeback from 0-3 down against the Yankees.

No other team in baseball history has reached a Game 7 from such a hole.  Only two teams have ever made it to Game 6.

Care to guess who managed the most recent example?

Much has been made of the tumultuous way Bobby Valentine’s tenure with the Mets ended in 2002, with that team’s clubhouse indiscretions making beer and fried chicken look like chopped liver.

But Valentine inherited an equally dysfunctional team in 1996 and quickly became an NL East contender, reaching the NLCS in 1999 and the World Series in 2000.

It was the 1999 Mets, which took the Braves to six games in the NLCS after trailing 0-3, that best showed the Valentine experience. That season, Valentine fought publicly with his GM (careful, Ben Cherington) and outfielder Bobby Bonilla, while guiding the Mets to their first postseason in 11 years.

The complexity of Bobby V’s Mets was never more apparent than over the final two games of the 1999 NLCS.

In Game 5, the Mets became only the second 0-3 team to force a sixth game, winning on Robin Ventura’s “Grand Slam Single” in the 15th inning. But that came only after teammates Rickey Henderson and Turk Wendell ripped each other during pregame.

The Mets then lost Game 6 in Atlanta on a bases-loaded walk in extra innings, while Henderson and teammates were playing cards in the clubhouse.

Already, some Red Sox players are reportedly expressing displeasure with Valentine’s hiring. Time to party like it’s 1999.


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