Nine days ago, several Baltimore Blast players were sitting in Carl Valentine's living room in Kansas City, Mo., watching Evander Holyfield knock out James "Buster" Douglas for the world heavyweight boxing title.
Twenty-four hours later, three of those Blast players, Billy Ronson, Tim Wittman and Mark Mettrick, showed no appreciation to the gracious host, Valentine, who plays for the Kansas City Comets.
"Billy, Timmy and Mark were all kicking me the next night in the game [won by the Comets, 7-6, in overtime]," Valentine said yesterday. "But I still had a good laugh with those guys. They're good guys, and I miss them."
There will be a rerun of Valentine vs. Ronson-Wittman-Mettrick tonight at the Baltimore Arena, when Kansas City meets the Blast at 7:35.
It will be Valentine's first appearance at the Arena in a Kansas City uniform, and he doesn't know what to expect.
"I don't see me getting booed," he said. "I never asked to leave. I hope I get a warm reception."
Blast coach Kenny Cooper said: "Carl Valentine will get a loud ovation, and I'll be leading the cheers. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Carl. There are two things to remember about him. He has class and dignity. That's what life is all about."
The pain in Valentine's voice is evident as he talks about his two years with Baltimore.
Hard-working and unselfish, Valentine was a perfect fit for the team-oriented Blast style of play. He led Baltimore in scoring (31 goals, 26 assists) his first season and was second (24 goals, 34 assists) to Domenic Mobilio last year.
During Valentine's stint with the Blast, the team came up a total of three wins short of winning two straight Major Soccer League championships.
But Valentine's days in Baltimore ended Aug. 20, when he was traded to Kansas City for Dale Mitchell.
Valentine said he was shocked by the trade because he had signed a one-year contract with the Blast just two days earlier after Cooper had pleaded with him to sign for "team loyalty."
"The only thing that I was put out about is the trade was done before I signed," said Valentine. "They got me to sign so they could trade me. But they [Blast officials] keep telling me it wasn't that way. They're in a position to trade me any time they want and didn't do anything illegal.
Blast owner Ed Hale said again yesterday that the Valentine trade came up suddenly when the team had a chance to get Mitchell.
"We had an opportunity to get a prolific scorer like Mitchell, and Kansas City wouldn't take anybody but Valentine," Hale said. "Both sides felt bad trading two gentlemen like Carl and Dale. But it looked too good on paper to pass up."
Valentine said: "I guess it doesn't really matter how it happened. At the end of the day, they didn't want me there."
NOTES: The cast was removed from goalkeeper Scott Manning's left ankle (strained lateral ligament) this week, and he is undergoing therapy daily in hopes of returning to action in one week. . . . Several Blast players will sign autographs today: Richard Chinapoo will be at the Baltimore Ski Show at Festival Hall (noon to 1 p.m.), Angelo Panzetta and Chris Haywood will be at Glen Burnie Mall (noon to 1 p.m.), Scoop Stanisic and Rusty Troy will be at Towson Town Center (noon to 1 p.m.) and Chris Simon and Dominic Feltham will be at East Point Mall (10:30 a.m. to noon).