America = Baseball, Apple pie and Chevrolet, right? Baseball, America’s pastime. If you want to make it big in the sport, then you come to America to play for the Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers. That’s what players from Asia have been doing for the last decade. Chan Ho Park, Hideo Nomo, Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, Daisuke Matsuzaka, the list goes on.
But in the new, flat (sports marketing) world, you don’t have to be in the U.S. to be on the map. A new movie, The Zen of Bobby V, had its premiere at the recent Tribeca Film Festival. Bobby Valentine had a pretty successful baseball career in the States, moreso as a manager (he took the Mets to the World Series in 2000) than a player, but he was also a respected analyst. But he became a legend in his second stint in Japan, leading the Chiba Lotte Marines to the title in 2005.
Check out this behind the scenes look at the film.
As a result, three NYU film students travelled to Japan and followed Valentine for the course of the 2007 season. Their inside look became the movie. Twenty years ago an American would go to Japan because he was no longer wanted in the Major Leagues. Valentine may be seen as the guy who changed that perception.
You can catch The Zen of Bobby Z Tuesday, May 13 on ESPN 2. Check local listings for times in your area.