March 17, 2011
After years of failed attempts, Paul Daugherty may have finally written his first good column. Well, it’s not so much as he wrote it as he asked Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker questions and transcribed the responses for the world. Since Baker is actually a nice, genuine, kind of cool guy, the article comes out very nice.
Baker talks about the origins of his omnipresent wrist bands.
I’ve worn the wristbands since I was a kid. Look at any of my bubblegum cards. If I’m wearing short sleeves, I have wristbands on. I put them on before I put on any other part of my uniform. If we’re winning, I use the same color. If we’re losing, I change them every day. Different colors. It’s bad when I run out of color combinations.
Then he talked about being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
I go to Kauai every year. For me, it’s the most spiritual place in the world. That’s where I went when I was told I had prostate cancer. We were going to Hawaii anyway, but my wife read in the in-flight magazine about Kauai, The Healing Island. The Lawae Valley. I walked the mountainsides. A lot of people think Hawaii is the center of the earth. I don’t know, but I feel something there I don’t feel anyplace else. I just prayed about my cancer. I came down from the mountains on Kauai and I knew everything was going to be all right.
Clearly, he has a well-adjusted head on his shoulders and a supportive family.
In the article, Baker also shares his love of wine, and he says that he grows syrah grapes. It doesn’t say, but I can only assume there’s a Dusty Baker wine out there somewhere. I wonder if he makes it in his bathtub.
There are a lot more tidbits about what makes Baker the person he is. Read the article to find out the last time he cried and what his first car was. Go ahead. It’s okay. And it might encourage Daugherty to get out of the way of other people’s words in the future.
March 8, 2011
Yesterday Chris Jaffe at The Hardball Times took a look at some of the all-time milestones that are due to be met and/or exceeded by managers this year. I’m no fan of how much love one Tony LaRussa gets in the article, but Dusty Baker gets his mention as well, so I figured it was worth a link.
The milestone in question is the 200th career meet-up between Baker and LaRussa (See? It’s always gotta be about TLR). That’s a lot of toothpicks and sunglasses. And despite it all–the base clogging comments and lineup malconstruction and veteran love–I still think we’ve got the better end of the match up, if only because, after all these years, Baker complains a whole lot less.
October 4, 2010
High off of making the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, the Cincinnati Reds wasted no time in taking care of manager Dusty Baker’s contract situation, awarding Baker with a 2-year extension.
Why 2 years? Apparently, like the majority of players, Baker’s a little superstitious. “I’ve had some of my best success on two-year contracts,” Baker said.
No financial details have leaked yet, but it’s likely he’ll have gotten a bit of a raise. Baker’s first contract was a 3-year deal reportedly worth $10 million. In those 3 years, the Reds improved a bit every year, going 74-88, 78-84, and finally 91-71 this year.
Despite the great improvement this year, Baker’s record with Cincinnati sits at just .500, 243-243. In his four years with the Chicago Cubs, he went 322-326, but then that team worsened every year as he seemed to lose control of the clubhouse and the respect of the players. Clearly, that’s not happening for the Reds. Not with quotes like this from Nick Masset.
“That’s awesome. I’m really excited for him,” said Masset, who Baker stuck with when he struggled early in the season. “He’s been such a huge asset for the team. He’s really someone we look up to and can confide in daily. He’s such a wonderful person to have around. He’s very family-oriented. He would do anything for us and we’d do the same for him. It definitely makes it a good atmosphere to be in when he’s around.”
So now that the question of Dusty Baker’s future is out of the way, let’s get to the playoffs.
August 8, 2010
If the Reds go to the World Series this year, Dusty Baker will manage the NL All-Star team in 2011. Dude, that team would have an ass-load of Reds on it. Like, enough to make up for the last decade.
Of course, knowing Baker, that team would also have an ass-load of random crappy ex-Cubs. Corey Patterson, Neify Perez, and Jerry Hairston, Jr. FTW!
March 29, 2010
I’m still amazed when people say, without a hint of irony, that they think that Dusty Baker is the best manager in the league. Personally, I think Baker is a hell of a human being but one seriously shitty manager, and I can list off the specific reasons why I think so:
- He builds his line-ups based on field position. The center fielder leads off, followed by short stop. Wouldn’t matter if the center fielder were Prince Fielder, he’d be leading the damn game off.
- He has a serious love of the veterans. The closer a player is to his own age, the better, and he’ll make the young’uns sit the bench and think about what they’ve done until they get older enough to know better.
- He prefers strike outs to walks.
- He screws up pitchers.
- He makes the stupidest in-game decisions anyone has ever seen. More than once I’ve suggested that he put his ideas to a vote of the 5 closest fans in the stands before he puts them in play, since he’ll be overridden 90% of the time by anyone who isn’t under the constant care of medical professionals.
However, in this interminable spring training, I don’t get the resolution to see how his in-game decisions are screwing the team, and none of the pitchers have really had the chance to get hurt yet. In three games, I saw Brandon Phillips take TWO walks, and Dusty hasn’t made any infuriating public comments on the matter in the longest time.
That leaves the veteran love. I contend that the team has managed not to stock the team with old farts, and thereby set Baker up for better success than he would have otherwise had. On the other hand Red Reporter points out that the team isn’t exactly the 2003 Florida Marlins. Either way, there aren’t any frustrating platoons being proposed and the blockers number few.
So, the only thing left to keep my anti-Baker ire up is the line-up thing, which is–wow–so stupid, but only a fraction of the stupid that I’m used to.
I understand some analysts are picking the team as the sleeper despite their uninspiring cactus league performance, which might put some pressure on the team to actually perform and not just turn in the same losing season we’ve seen for so many years in a row now that I’ve lost count.
But even if the team is slow out of the gate, I’ve got that sinking feeling that they’ll find some injury or weather condition or phase of the moon to blame it on and extend Baker’s contract. If the team gets off to a hot start, I’m afraid we’ll be stuck with him until the Cubs win it all.