SI: Do you worry about getting ostracized in management circles
if you're too critical on TV?
Valentine: I try to live as honestly as I can without worrying
SI: Can you still root for the Mets?
Valentine: I'm a fan of the Mets. I have too many friends there
to say I would root against them.
SI: Could you manage for George Steinbrenner?
Valentine: The guy managing for George has the luckiest job in
the world. [George] wants to win more than anybody and puts his
money where his mouth is.
SI: Among the tough headlines you endured while managing the Mets
from '96 to 2002: WHY WAIT? CAN THE PHONY NOW. Do you have a
favorite tabloid headline that involves you?
Valentine: Most of those are framed in one of my restaurants. We
have a collage of all that kind of nonsense. Probably THE MOST
HATED MAN IN BASEBALL sticks out.
SI: You became friends with President Bush when you were with
Texas and he was part owner. When did you last speak with him?
Valentine: He called me the morning after I got fired [Oct. 1],
but I've talked to him since. It was one of the weeks before the
war, when we both had a moment of free time. But I'm indebted to
him forever that I answered the phone the morning after I was
dismissed by the Mets and he was on the other end.
SI: Did he console you?
Valentine: Yeah, he was very flattering and very much a friend,
but I'd rather not specifically say what he said.
SI: He fired you in '92. Could you have imagined he would end up
the most powerful man on earth?
Valentine: He always had the ability to rise to the occasion in
any situation, so I'm not surprised other than that he didn't
have great aspirations during those days to even be governor.
SI: Your father-in-law is Ralph Branca. Have you ever taken hacks
Valentine: Yeah, he threw batting practice in the Dominican
Republic when I first met his daughter. [Valentine was playing
winter ball there in 1974.]
SI: How did you do?
Valentine: I married her.
COLOR PHOTO: RICH ARDEN/ESPN (VALENTINE) The President's pal
For more from Bobby Valentine, go to si.com/scorecard.