NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo Prefecture--Bobby Valentine is nothing if not ambitious.The Japan Times adds more player reaction.
The 55-year-old manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines issued a challenge Wednesday to the winner of the World Series: "Let's do battle in a real World Series."
Valentine, who on Wednesday became the first foreigner to manage a team to a Japan Series title, says the level of play in Japan has risen to that in North America and the time has come for a best-of-seven series between the Japanese champions and the World Series champions....
The Marines swept the Tigers in four games to claim their first championship in 31 years. Valentine says his club has what it takes to compete against either of this year's World Series combatants, the Chicago White Sox and the Houston Astros.
"(Lotte) is as good a team as I've ever managed," Valentine said. "I don't like to rate the teams I've managed, but it compares very favorably to the teams playing in the World Series.
"The White Sox have a little more power than us, but so did Softbank [Hawks] and so did Seibu [Lions]," he added, referring to the two teams the Marines beat in the Pacific League playoffs.
"The only reason I am saying this is because I am the only person to have managed in both the World Series and the Japan Series," Valentine said. "I've watched our guys all year and I've watched the two teams in the World Series on TV and the level is equal. The competition would be great, it's time to do battle."
Valentine's players also think a champion-versus-champion showdown would be beneficial.
"I would like to play against the major league champions," said Lotte pitcher Hiroyuki Kobayashi, the winning pitcher in Game 3 of the Japan Series. "The (Chicago) White Sox have home-run hitters with (Paul) Konerko and (Joe) Crede. Some matchups would be more problematic," Kobayashi admitted.
Former Fukuoka Daiei Hawks star Tadahito Iguchi, now with the White Sox, would worry Kobayashi more than anyone, he said.
"He hit me pretty good," Kobayashi said. "I faced him enough."
According to Lotte outfielder Benny Agbayani, who played for Valentine's New York Mets in the 2000 World Series, the biggest winners if such a series were to take place would be the fans.