LAS VEGAS — Joe Maddon is well aware that a big part of being a manager in 2018 is connecting with players. It’s not just making lineup and bullpen decisions. It’s handling different personalities.
Now he’s taking a somewhat surprising step. The Chicago Cubs manager said Tuesday at the winter meetings that he’s reading the book “Managing Millennials for Dummies” to help him get better as a manager.
Yes, that sounds like a punchline. No, it is not.
“It’s a great read, ‘Managing Millennials for Dummies.’ I’m in the middle of that right now,” Maddon said. “And you always think this for dummy’s thing is really rudimentary written, it’s really well written and researched. I’m learning about traditionalists, Baby Boomers, the X’ers, the Millennials. And I’m really starting to understand this a little bit better.”
The world bending to millennials is another common punchline these days, something that often inspires a groan among people of a certain age. People of Maddon’s age, in fact. He’s 64. His motives sound legit though.
“I think it’s important for me as a manager obviously, whether anybody here agrees or disagrees with the generation and how they process things, it doesn’t matter, because that’s the way it is. And if that’s the way it is, just like my dad, that generation, thought we were a bunch of babies, the Boomers, the traditionalist thought, they’re all soft. It doesn’t matter. You have to figure out how to communicate and extract the best out of this group and make sure that you’re always on the same page.”
There might be a job-saving strategy at play here too. The Cubs fired hitting coach Chili Davis earlier this winter and he blamed millennial players afterward. The Cubs, after winning the 2016 World Series, haven’t been able to live up expectations of a dynasty. Maddon is in the final year of his contract with the Cubs, so if he’s looking for an extension, finding a new way to connect with players isn’t the worst move.
Admitting it publicly is admirable too. Maddon has always been bold and unafraid of saying exactly who is. You don’t wear a jacket like this to the winter meetings otherwise.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) December 11, 2018
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