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ESPN hires Bobby Valentine, who calls Mets' season 'a tragedy'

Mets Coach Bobby Valentine, left, and General Manager

Mets Coach Bobby Valentine, left, and General Manager Steve Philips, right, introduce "stolen base king" Rickey Henderson, at a news conference given by the Mets at Shea Stadium in New York, Monday, Dec. 21, 1998. The Mets signed Henderson for $2.3 million for one year with an option for a second. (Credit: AP / Ed Bailey)

Bobby Valentine officially joined ESPN today, then joined sports media scribes on a conference call held late Tuesday morning here and early Wednesday morning in Japan.

Bobby V. will serve as a "Baseball Tonight" analyst beginning with the league championship series next month.

Next season he will be a regular contributor, as well as work for 1050 ESPN radio and the soon-to-be-launched Web site ESPNNewyork.com.

Valentine did not dispute the assumption he would like to return to managing in the majors, but he added, "At this time I'm totally committed in thinking about trying to be as good as I can be for the team that showed interest."

The "team" he meant is ESPN.

ESPN executive Norby Williamson said he assumed Valentine will be with the network at least through 2010.

Valentine said it was difficult to follow American baseball closely while managing in Japan, but he offered this when asked about the 2009 Mets:

"I followed it from afar and I have some friends there that I've shared tears with, because I think it's been a tragedy.

"It's been disappointment after disappointment, and I don't think anybody could have fixed it as the season was going on. As soon as it seemed like things were getting better, they seemed to get worse.

"I was kind of a fan that was really disappointed and upset by the outcome."

(UPDATE: Here is my Wednesday newspaper article on this, presented to you 20 hours before the actual newspaper is delivered, thanks to the magic of the Internet! Maybe this isn't a fad after all.)

Photo: AP

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