UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Bobby Valentine has learned a lot of things across his many years as a manager.
How to work the media.
So it was hardly a surprise inside the Mohegan Sun casino on Friday — at the Connecticut Sports Foundation’s annual charity dinner to benefit cancer research — that the new manager of the Boston Red Sox offered very little, especially when it comes to who is now his biggest rival.
In fact, Valentine said he’s not sure what it will be like to manage Boston against the New York Yankees, and Don Zimmer says he’s not giving him any advice.
Valentine and Zimmer, a former Red Sox skipper and Yankees coach, were among a group of baseball stars who showed up at the casino for the charity and spoke with reporters beforehand. Former Yankee greats Goose Gossage and Yogi Berra also were there along with current Yankee Francisco Cervelli.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi was expected, but didn’t meet with the media.
“Is (Girardi) in this building now?” Valentine joked. “I still hate ‘em.”
That was a reference to a comment Valentine made at the winter meetings, when he told reporters that he hated the Yankees and didn’t want to waste his time talking about them. He was more introspective Friday.
“I really can’t tell you what (the rivalry) is,” said Valentine, who has also managed the Texas Rangers and New York Mets as well as the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan. “I haven’t experienced it yet. These guys have experienced it much more than I have. I am looking forward to it, that’s for sure.”
Zimmer, now an advisor to Tampa Bay, said if he were Valentine, he’d be more worried about the Rays.
“I give him no advice,” Zimmer said. “Bobby’s his own man. I was there. I know what it’s about and I loved every minute of it. Managing is managing. It has its ups and downs. You’re going to get cheered; you’re going to get booed.
“You’ve got to take it wherever you go.”
But Gossage said you have to take more of it when you play in Boston. He talked about being spit on in the bullpen at Fenway Park, and having beers thrown in his face.
“There is no rivalry in sports that rivals the Yankees-Red Sox,” he said. “That playoff game in ‘78 — it felt like the playoffs and World Series were exhibition games after that.”
The Yankees outlasted the Red Sox, 5-4, in the 1978 American League East tiebreaker at Fenway. Gossage notched his 27th save of the season in the win on Oct. 2, 1978.
Berra said he enjoyed the ride to Connecticut and liked meeting the Boston fans. Even though an annual Quinnipiac University poll last summer found there are slightly more Yankees fans in Connecticut than Red Sox fans.
Forty-three percent of baseball fans surveyed in the poll, which had an error margin of 2.6 percentage points, supported the Yankees. Thirty-eight percent said they were fans of the Sox.
“It will probably go about 10 percent to the Yankees,” joked Valentine, who was born and raised in Stamford, “with my presence.”