Jul 2, 2012|
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine discusses the documentary Pelotero, for which he served as executive producer, and some of the unsettling aspects of the market for top amateur talent in Latin America, particularly the Dominican Republic. He discusses baseball in the Dominican, why he considers that country to be his second home and the nature of identifying 15- and 16-year-old baseball players as prospects.
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Monday marks a big day in the Major League Baseball calendar and in the lives of a number of young players. July 2 is the annual date when teams can start signing sixteen year old amateur players from other countries most notably Latin America. In sell players scored just turning old enough to get their draw their driver's licenses are going to end up getting hundreds of thousands. If not millions of dollars to start playing professional baseball. This year spending in the international market is going to be knocked down. As Major League Baseball has moved to -- the bonuses given out to young international players still. Somewhere a team will find the next David Ortiz or Pedro Martinez and they're going to pay in order to try to do so. The international amateur market is a troubling one. There's been all kinds of evidence over the years of corruption by the trainers and agents for the young players. As well as age falsification. Abuse by the Major League Baseball teams that have signed young players. And in some instances manipulation of the market to try to sign young players for perhaps less than their work. It and other cases simply stealing money from either of the young players or their teams. To explore that world this week down on the farm was joined at Fenway Park -- Bobby Valentine -- his capacity Israel has Red Sox manager. But instead as the executive producer of a documentary. Called -- tanto. That examines some of the unsettling aspects of the international baseball market here is the interview with Bobby Valentine. It's a great pleasure to have Bobby Valentine who is now an executive producer. The movie coach -- Which I believe it opens in theaters on July 13. But the timing of this conversation is is perfect. For this show because we're approaching the July 2 signing period which the movie documents in fascinating fashion. Doing with -- on how Sino. And die in one Carlo but -- Two fellows who we were up her. Who were very prominent prospects. In the 2010. July 2 period and it documents have been fascinating passion Bobby thanks for joining how did you get involved in this process. That's amazing. I got him -- it probably. Like playing in the Dominican Republic in 1973. To police -- delegates and 7476. And meeting my wife they're going near my honeymoon in the seventies going back there through the eighties has sailors and miniature and then. And then have an -- documentary done about me in Japan quite some three. Young. NYU. Film students who -- DSP and into given them a lot of money to come and live with me for the summer in Japan there. And after they successfully did the is -- of Bobby Valentine. But it. -- Bobby V is the films called -- for ESP NN they graduated went out on their own GM down. I was so enthralled and so impressed and so. Excited about the relationship that was developed here with one of the producers. And I started a film completely. Went around I wrote it checked it at some other friends dreaded chicken said let's see if we can't do some sports documentary films and have into with Scott who particularly. How did this evolve because -- was obviously a fascinating fascinating case both because he was. You know he was deep prominence. -- the prominent American prospect. In that particular year. And he ended up being you know not only wildly talented but also someone. Who is subject to kind of remarkable process and that he was caught. In in this very challenging crossfire. You know an age verification identity. Controversy. It ended up delaying his signing he would have been. The signature player to sign on July 2 he ended up not be able to sign until September because there was all this red tape that ended up surrounding. Is is eligibility decide how -- at the production company how did you guys' minds these particulars aspects. Interestingly enough. While I was warming might production company. To the producers of Phillip Terrell. Decided that the -- cause much to live in the Dominican Republic they loved baseball -- have -- -- figure out what it was sold out in the the decided to live in the little town as him Peter did my caddie because they are just as the baseball factory -- world short stops you know exactly. -- through it and there's somebody that is added. The end -- they get a little targeted they figure out what baseball's all about -- after spending nine months that down and in that in 2009. Not only figuring -- out and meeting agents meeting players. Figuring out where these that trailed camps where where the practice fields where -- the beaches we're that the kids Rihanna. The -- Became friends with the bulls. Some of the trainers in some of the players luckily enough to the subjects. Happens to be great. Prospects at fifteen years old. Fifteen years old fifty years because well you this amazing they're prospects. AM. They were repeating you know one of burgers together at night is as a college kid and -- and high school kid might do anywhere else around the world. Well they re -- out of money. After being there and filming for most of 2009 came back to New York City where where there's little protect production company. Head to head that. And a little office in the sought out financing unit Rian NT into the -- I don't know who's the president of market crowded media and my film company. Pitch to project in -- Showed me some of the footage it was about the Dominican the Dominican Republic like my second home -- that if we can put this together. Humble and Ian. We went all in we've financed it didn't. You know yearly that we had we had a finished product which is really wonderful wonderful presentation. Of what that world is all about. Well let's talk about that world because you've been going as you said to the Dominican for decades that's when you've experienced -- baseball culture there as a player. Perhaps as a manager coach in the generally Snelling it's that's about it. Staff as a manager started as a manager so scouting professionals threaten the amateur market there. Yeah in the end it's seeing some of the amateurs when they're sixteen but it was so it's so hard to just -- -- and popped out there have to. Really the the area to put your boots and he got nowhere to go and know -- see him. I only saw the finished product. One of the first things that I heard you saying about about the Latin American market analyst at the hot stove cool music event you participated in in. Early February and at that you raise the question and and it's kind of trouble me or at least been curious to me for a number of years. Why are we signing people at age sixteen. And Kate. You have. You ask the question. Do you have any answers to it. No. You know I never did did get an answer I don't totally understand them. You know when it because I statistic that -- -- when I was sixteen Ian. You know if in fact that's plainly Kate -- maybe I could have signed a professional contract but couldn't have gone away. And lived in the city it. You know Ogden Utah. At sixteen and in what would that. -- Olympics as a foreign country exactly and let alone speaking another language so you know we really started to -- and other people's views and I'm still a little. Perplexed it seems like the system works. But in Syria does seem that it's an awful young agent. And you know with little out of the Latin friends of mine have said over the years and I guess Ozzie Guillen said it publicly about a year ago is. It strange that. Many of these let players and they miss the window. 66 -- here. Each and when their twenties they don't get -- right then in that's also. Rather replace right which is part of what the what the movie dives into because there is questions of age and identity. In particular there's services for someone -- Who ends up if it turns out that he has falsified birth date. Whether intentionally or not is left open by. -- prospect status changes dramatically changes you know change the size of the signing bonus significantly changes the way in which he's perceived by an organization. Significantly although. The Astros went out yesterday -- at the end after signing him. Well this ended up being a very good deal for us because it -- like it was a player it just happens to these little bit older. Mean is that is that troubling that there is this that essentially you are forced in the Dominican to forgo an education. If you wanna become a baseball players you have to sign it the best players if they wanna prove that they towns have decided sixteen otherwise -- illustrates -- -- -- Look MLB has done and to the credit of many great organizations here in it in the states they they've taken on the responsibility of of educating. Many of the players as they've they've moved toward you know -- -- the the language that's spoken here in the states. English in -- Work done there's Spanish to get it -- more proper and they. You know they it is an education meantime it was sororities to say that you know when you signed on with the -- -- He's signed on to go to Tommy Lewis or you you know it wasn't just. Professional baseball that there was going to be an education involved and indeed it is. You said that you have you saw that scouting process even of the amateur world albeit briefly in the Dominican. Earlier not in you know and then of course go to work on a documentary unit in 2010. Based on those snapshots and I've you know not to suggest that you have. Complete you know that you spent months with your boots on the ground or anything in the -- for that working towards -- July 2 period but. To your mind how has that scouting process changed hands. You know and because it is often you'll often hear people described as being -- kind of wild wild west. Of amateur scouting which is a concern obviously. And -- had to use. Have you seen that that you felt that or based on the fact that you know perhaps you haven't spent too much I mean that side of of the Dominican that has happened less apparent. Well you know when we need to -- while while -- in it it's just the way it is it's not. You know. That the wild wild west is bad part of this formation of our country residence you know it just. The way it was at the time and in the strong survive. -- what I've seen now is it's much more organized and in most teams have academies there. Most teams have. Boots on the ground 24/7. 360 side. Two to make sure that you know no one falls through the cracks. In I think you know this structure of the signing bonuses have. You know taking shape. Over the last couple years also but it there's still you know it's still. You know beat the other guy to the punch that's -- that's what it's all of help find the guy keeping him in order. Word -- words you know distract via the opposition. Accident today you can win in. It. It's interesting to see at least absolutely in the movie again gets into that particularly in the case -- -- don't know where it seems as if he's caught in the cross terrorism. You know. There there there are perhaps what what it would come off as morally questionable. You know ways in which teams are trying to secure his services and at the lowest available price and so I mean it is. It is just. A remarkable thing to see what it's like more teams to court as free agents be sixteen year old guys. Based on based on the movie based on what you know of that landscape. Do you think it be an international draft is a solution or do you think that. That will do you do you think that that won't solve and resolve some of the issues that we see going on. In the movie as a -- support here at Fenway Park by the way. Four or keeping -- its. If there's always going to be concerns of corruption and and among other things in the Dominican. Well pellets once again corruption is this just the. -- -- In immoral steal music device defined by the borders that you cross you know and you know there's just a different playing field. -- in many different countries and around around the world and I think definitely in play by. The rules of the existing. Landscape. I'm not sure coated in national -- -- -- of that year. As intelligent as you heard you've done all the research on it there's probably some formula are out there that would work that I don't quite get it. You know would. I don't I don't know how how Woodward -- think the existing. Way of doing things might go and be around for a long time. In terms of your own experience. As a as it highly touted prospect at the age of eighteen and you're the number five you you were drafted and eighteen a where -- seventeen at that time I had just turned eighteen yet. In and day in day and detected engine. How does that mean when you think about these incredibly young players who were to find all of a sudden there's you know huge prospects the age of sixteen. When you have no idea what they're going to look like physically and for years and that's that's a whole other realm of projection. But how did your experience as a highly regarded prospect such young age. Kind of color how you view prospect status -- when you're in player development you spent a number of years as a as a coach in not in -- development. And you know and prospects says when you see you know the well middle Brooks -- world coming up to the major leagues and setting the world on fire but I think. -- I -- and out liar and I think that -- all let go players have to be lucky the end as the number one draft. I saw guys. Go by the wayside because the they weren't in the right situation with the right people like I got -- and and down left home and play the time of -- and it's just as simple as that if in fact. He wasn't there not only throwing me curve balls so that they figured out how to get them. In position me and it in the outfielder -- stuff so I knew how to -- them. If he wasn't there -- two. You know streak in the outside world that was so spinning so quickly you know I mean I was. Attempted by every temptation that a young person has that is 3000 miles away from my. My mom and dad in my home and you know I needed some awesome. Stating. The influence and I was lucky enough to. Be in the dodgers' system and have it -- like -- sort of who. Who kept me away from. Getting you know getting the bullet. You know I kept dodging the bullet and that's what you have to do. When you're young prospect when you're young. Graduating college student and whenever you're trying to succeed him in. That hard real life world. There it then you have to danceable. In terms of your perspective as a coach and manager when you were in when you're a minor league instructor minor league manager. The goals are very different -- to find -- -- differently than they are the Major League level or success perhaps defined in different fashion publicly. How would you define the distinction between that time that you spent as a as a coach and manager in in the minor leagues vs. Being in Major League manager being a Major League coach in. Which which suits your you know is is there a difference from a personality -- what you know are their people -- Kind of intrinsically player development people and intrinsically. You know intrinsically Major League personalities. Well. I don't think that there's necessarily. It's a great difference when you're managing down when you're when you're the manager of the coaching you're dealing with the player I think. You you. Or you have a responsibility to give -- player what he needs. Whether he's at the Major League level or the developing player at the minor league level I think what would. Changes is how you manage your report. What the people. Are asking of view it the end of the players. Who Europe but you and when you get to the major leagues it. It gets right down to the bottom line and the results in the in the numbers in. When you're. In the minor leagues. There's more of the steel in the in the progress and the and ability of the player to. Mitt you know -- hurdles that. Everyone has to make it -- growing but. There's the learning process ability gross presses doesn't end when you get under the need the big lights in years in a in a Major League you better. Stepping backwards for a moment that you describe your your courage and passion for where baseball in culture in the Dominican. Which is actually quite interesting because I think that most people would kind of assume that your adopted home is Japan. Based on the fact that the recent C in prominence your experience. There was it was well known. What was it -- what's been appealing to you about this idea of seeing baseball in different cultures and are there are distinctive. Characteristics. Of of these baseball cultures Major League Baseball. The end PB in Japan. The Dominican whether the amateur you know -- on the amateur side or -- -- in the Dominican winter ball that kind of gives separate. It did. You with which you connect in different ways. I think they're distinct them but I think it you know my extraction is just that simple human reaction them. You know I was in the Dominican and make people that I -- and it was received really well he and they had success tonight is the MVP of the Caribbean World Series in all the good stuff you know Liu and David Ortiz. Yes yeah yes and AM. But the simpatico them the feeling that them I was will receive. You know I had a life changing experience because I and I met my future wife there you know and then they went there on my honeymoon tonight. What realistic there's always went back it was always that connection there I mean people who know me that the Dominican is may first it's -- to come. Good country and two PNC. And a New Year's second and I just I just enjoy the fact that. Who went when he gives you you received and I am to get her. What is your hope that the film accomplishes. I I think it's there's so many people who. Love baseball love Major League Baseball and understand it you know of this. Twenty plus percent of all the players that they watched. Have come from this little island of his plea -- that the islanders cheered with CDs he Edwards is. Another fascinating topic by the way -- -- I think that I've always wondered about. Is why there's no baseball culture in Haiti if that's that's a question for -- and blame it on the French seriously. You don't just as little it's a little little space a little speck on the map and in it has been a wonderful. Addition to our Major League Baseball. Culture Ian rather than they do these players come from Mars and credit that you that they just happened to be here -- that they. Totally acclimated it's an easy road because there talent in the database below. Eight. It's an understanding from whence they came that it is a hard road it's not. It's not an easy life it is a way out. In the end everyone's on that same highly trained team. You know get out as it is them. Sound like his MO says says so eloquently is Mary eating dinner film that. You know the critics -- used to be sugar cane and now the experts baseball players and this little countries is doing -- -- and I just hope that he can continue to. -- So -- a matter of getting out and the possibility of gaining gaining. Financial you know -- lucrative lucrative bonuses is a fascinating one. In talking almost heart rendering fashion because at the beginning you know the -- one John. But he says -- war in his mom says this is everything. How what how much you sense or is everything for our family. They've capped the amount of bonuses. That the size of the bonus pulpit that Major League Baseball teams can give. Two young amateur players in the Dominican. Does that concern does is they're concerned that it might drive players away from the game that they're perhaps is this much money. That would be available there in that the opportunity to transform lives in the Dominican. Might actually diminished by virtue of the fact that there's going to be less money flowing into it I think. The real the real concern is the number of visas and as -- his. The jobs continued to be. Allotted in as long as the opportunity remains the same. CIA I think that the drive will be there because. You know there's there's more than the signing bonus there's the the opportunity to do something you love. In this dream world of the United States of America in -- eventually get to the they opted not to be here at castle on this guy you Major League Baseball and then there's a lot of money to be made along the way. So I don't think that them to drive is necessarily going. Be taken away. Now as this is seen some of these people who are responsible for is some of the development of the players these trainers who. Do realize and a percentage of the signing bonus. You know that they might be listened sanitized but again it's what they do so these are set to maybe do it -- do it harder to make the same. The -- -- last have you kept up with the two subjects of the film. Certainly you know -- no lawyers. Is doing extraordinary things in the -- system. At a young age in you know -- has made it has made it to the states and he's been he's now. He's now in in his second season in the states I believe you. Have you kind of kept tabs on them just as a as a fascination based on your personal interest in -- and personal involvement related in this part of their lives. Yeah what Miguel son -- had -- them. You know his smile lights at the room he's he's a wonderful kid in an extreme talent and ridiculous nickname Bogota but Kyra he'd -- picked. The big stories now for the big -- it's. He's he's a terrific and a person. As well as a player in league spring we had seen spring training in Fort Myers so. I was able to be with them a few times down there and Ian. See his smile no prevail in light of the room and you know his swing is that swing it everyone's inserts. Is it. He's going to be at. A terrific player it to me to level at nineteen years goalies them tearing it up in the minor leagues and you know we got lucky there and and that's what like so about. Yeah Trulia fascinating look at a very foreign world I think it's so difficult to understand. I've always had just because I've covered for a number of years you know this internationals if this international market but. And so you see you don't know ends I thought that that documentary did a great job of of exposing itself. It was very enjoyable to watch and -- for -- your time and thoughts on it it was a great pleasure. Yet thanks so it's -- guys who did this film and they're all young girl in the twenties. They're all making their mark. I think just in a thankless job in the film just won the international. A worded their group the international film festival so it's an award will be winning film I -- like that. Zander Bogart's we'll have to introduce -- are showing in Aruba thanks again -- thank you. -- will premiere at the Coolidge corner theatre in Brookline on July 13 you'll also be available on demand and on iTunes. -- is listening we'll check in next Sunday as we get ready for the all star futures game intensity.