Bobby Valentine has spent much of his life in the major leagues – first as a player in the 1970s, and then as a manger in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.
The game has changed a great deal over the years. So have the players. Different cultures, different generations, different forms of expression, more media attention.
It’s made life as a manager more difficult.
“I think it is (more difficult),” Valentine said in studio on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Managing the guys in the locker room is more difficult, mainly because the manager doesn’t have the hammer. He doesn’t have any final say. When you’re tweeting to the players, it’s a little different than talking to them because if you don’t have the right emoji, they think that you really don’t like them. What the hell is that all about? But it is what it is.”
Modern players also have more than just baseball on their minds.
“I think the younger player has more things on his plate – and it’s okay to have more things on your plate,” Valentine said. “It’s okay to talk about your investments. It’s okay to bring your personal life into your situation. Who was that first guy that got three days off for his wife having a baby? I played during an era where that just didn’t happen. You really didn’t even tell anyone you’re having a baby because you didn’t want to have the manager think you were distracted in any way. It’s really, really different, and I think it’s more difficult.”
Valentine, who last managed in 2012 with the Red Sox, said it’s important for managers to adapt with the times.
“Yes, I think you have to change,” the 67-year-old said. “If you’re not evolving and changing, you’re going backwards. They have to get with it. They have to find out what those needs are, and the needs are complicated these days. I guess they always were complicated, but you used to have a clubhouse meeting and talk to 25. Now you have to have a one-on-one, and sometimes you have to have the agent with him – or maybe even the sports psychologist with you or maybe the general manager with you. It’s really different than it once was, and I think managers have to evolve to that changing situation.”