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Love in the air for all-time Valentines

Love in the air for all-time Valentines

It's Valentine's Day, and since there are still at least 72 hours before we hear about pitchers and catchers reporting to some Spring Training camps in Florida, it's time to think about your valentine ... and our national pastime, of course.

Yes, we heart baseball, no matter what the holiday, so take your honey out to the yard, play catch, enjoy the day and get ready for the upcoming season.

In the meantime, here's an MLB.com all-time All-Valentine's Day Team:

Lineup

Pete Rose, 1B: Charlie Hustle kicks off this lineup in a big way, with his last name representing the perfect Valentine's Day gift. Despite his controversies, Rose's main gift to baseball is his all-time hits record of 4,256.

Bo Hart, 2B: Hart's Major League career didn't last very long. He became popular with Cardinals fans as a rookie in 2003, batting .277 in 296 at-bats, and he only appeared in 11 games the next season before fading out of the big leagues. He does, however, leave us with a perfect Valentine's Day name on several levels. There's the Bo (or Beau, or bow-and-arrow) angle, and the hopefully strongly beating Hart.

John Valentin, SS: He's missing the "E" that would spell out Valentine, but when a shortstop doesn't have an E, that's a very good thing. Valentin had some nice offensive years, particularly 1995, when he hit .298 with 27 homers and 102 RBIs while putting up an OPS of .931 for the first-place Red Sox.

Jose Valentin, 3B: The "Stache" was primarily a shortstop, but we're going to move him to third on this team, and he did play 181 big league games at the hot corner. Valentin had a very solid career from a power standpoint, with 249 homers and a stretch, from 2000-04, all with the White Sox, in which he averaged 27 long balls a season. No E on the end here, either.

Beau Allred, OF: One of the better Valentine's Day names you'll ever find, even if he hit only .230 in 165 at-bats spread out over parts of three big league seasons (1989-91).

Ellis Valentine, OF: His career tailed off, but he was a physical specimen at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds and had three good years in a row. From 1977-79 with the Expos, Valentine hit over 20 homers each season, drove in more than 75 runs, made an All-Star team and picked up a Gold Glove.

Sandy Amoros, OF: The stats weren't overwhelming, but he'll forever be remembered for his spectacular catch in the sixth inning of the decisive Game 7 of the 1955 World Series when the Brooklyn Dodgers finally beat the Yankees. Oh, and his last name derives from the word that means love in just about every language.

Tyler Flowers, C: Somebody's got to sit behind the plate on this club, even if it's a White Sox rookie with only 20 big league at-bats to his credit. And his last name is the tried-and-true Valentine's Day icebreaker and argument-solver.

Starting rotation

John Candelaria, LHP: Any guy nicknamed "Candy Man" has to make this team, with visions of the little heart candies with messages of love on them. Candelaria often broke the hearts of big league hitters, particularly in his watershed 20-5 season of 1977. He won 177 games in a 19-year career.

Tom Candiotti, RHP: Here's the other "Candy Man," a right-hander with a baffling knuckleball that enabled him to win 151 games in 16 years and pitch until he was 41. Random and possibly fun fact: Candiotti played for Cleveland from 1989-91, which means he was a first-hand witness to then-Cleveland and now-Valentine's Day teammate Beau Allred's entire big league career.

Ron Darling, RHP: He was a Darling on the Mets' World Series staff in 1986 and continues to be a Darling on national baseball broadcasts.

Slim Love, LHP: Nice to get another southpaw in the mix, and this is one fantastic -- and fitting -- Valentine's Day name. Mr. Love had one impressive season on the bump for the Yankees in 1918, going 13-12 with a 3.07 ERA while starting 29 games -- and finishing 13 of them. Coincidental and very cool fact: He was born in a town called Love, Mississippi.

Hal Goldsmith, RHP: Judging by his last name, this man who made 20 starts and pitched six complete games in a four-year career (1926-1929) in Boston and St. Louis comes from a long line of tradesmen who have some of their best days on Feb. 14.

Bullpen

Buddy Lively, RHP: Not only is your valentine often your liveliest buddy, but this reliever, who appropriately pitched for the Reds from 1947-49, is the only guy on this list who was actually born on Feb. 14 (in '25). And get this: His nickname was Red.

Joe Valentine, RHP: Here's another guy with the name of the day and a pitcher who spent every minute of his 42 career games from 2003-05 with the Reds.

Vito Valentinetti, RHP: Don't worry. Take a long look at that long last name and you can find a Valentine inside. He pitched from 1954-59 and ended up wearing five different uniforms.

... And in the dugout

Bobby Valentine, manager: Bobby V., the former skipper who took the Mets to the World Series in 2000 and won the Japan Series with the Chiba Lotte Marines in '05, is full of love for the game, just like his name.

Doug Miller is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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