Friday, September 10, 2010

3 comments Terence Moore Writes a Fluff Piece About Dusty Baker And I Mock Both of Them

I am pretty familiar with Terence Moore from his time at the AJC when he wrote about the Braves for the paper. Last year he advocated the Braves sign Ken Griffey Jr, Mike Hampton, and Andrew Jones pretty much just for the hell of it. Terence has now written a fluff piece on Dusty Baker. I used to call them puff pieces, but the last time I wrote about about a puff piece done by Bill Plaschke it was pointed out in the comments it was more of a fluff piece, since it contained no journalistic matter and was a "light and fluffy" sports article.

Terence wants us all to just lay off Dusty Baker. I have no problem with how Dusty Baker has managed this year and he is actually a pretty decent manager overall. Of course I have some similar criticisms of him that others have also in regard to how he handles pitchers and his position on clogging the bases. The problem is I am a cyber-bully. When you tell me to lay off Dusty Baker, that means I am going to do the exact opposite.

What is the exact point of fluff pieces anyway? They serve no journalistic purpose other than to nuzzle the butt of a player or coach and the reader generally learns nothing new of substance. If I were an editor, I would immediately reject all fluff pieces.

It's time for everybody to leave the most abused of baseball's elite managers alone.

I'm not sure who Terence Moore is talking about when he is talking about this elite manager. This is supposed to be an article about Dusty Baker, I'm not "elite" describes him.

At 61, and with a fluent tongue in Spanish, an affinity for hunting and fishing and a stint in the Marines during the Vietnam War era, this proud son of Sacramento transcends balls and strikes.

(swipes at low hanging fruit) He also transcends balls and strikes in that he has made his mark in the field of reconstructive arm surgery for his young pitchers and has pioneered the study of keeping an eye on your three-year old child while he is a bat boy to ensure he doesn't get run over by a base runner.

"Barack has been over to my home a couple of times," said Baker, without the hint of pretension

Oh no, there is a ton of pretension in that statement. The hint of pretension is overwhelmed by the aroma of douchebaggery.

The president and the manager.

This was a sentence that had its own paragraph.

They both continue to serve as punching bags for others, but they both continue to shrug off the left hooks.

Dusty Baker and Barack Obama are the only manager and president to ever get criticized publicly in Terence Moore's eyes. Pretty much every manager and president are punching bags for others, these two are no different.

In regard to Dusty Baker, he may have been used as a punching bag, but does that mean he doesn't deserve it? Every manager has flaws in his managerial style, why should Dusty Baker have his flaws ignored by the public?

As a survivor of prostate cancer and after years of dealing with managerial migraines named Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa (and that's for starters),

I remember Dusty Baker complaining bitterly about the headache that was Barry Bonds. How dare Barry Bonds lead Dusty Baker to his only World Series appearance and have some of the greatest (steroid fueled) seasons under Baker! That asshole Bonds probably also prevented Baker's Giants teams from just being average and prevented Baker from getting fired earlier than he did. What a jerk that Bonds guy is!

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. If Bonds isn't on those Giants teams, Dusty Baker would have never managed in a World Series and not had near the amount of success he had in San Francisco.

As for Sosa, I don't recall Dusty Baker complaining about Sosa's great hitting that helped the Cubs win games. These two may have been headaches, but Dusty Baker sure got a lot of wins because of these guys. To just say these two were headaches without mentioning how Baker won a lot of games with these guys in the lineup is a bit disingenuous.

He is showing again that he is as rugged as his mostly youthful yet notably resilient Cincinnati Reds, who just lost a three-game series to the San Francisco Giants.

Even so, members of Baker's New Red Machine will recover, because that's what they do these days.

The Reds are having a great year and they do have some great, young players. Having said that, I think it is easier to recover in a division that features the Astros, Brewers and Pirates. I just want to be an asshole and throw this out there.

The Reds didn't collapse following a beat-down before the All-Star break by the Philadelphia Phillies, and they actually surged after they were swept out of first place in the National League Central earlier this month by the St. Louis Cardinals.

This is all because of Dusty Baker, not the players on the team or Walk Jocketty who put the team together, but because of Dusty Baker. The Reds are a good team, but we shouldn't give a good team too much credit for winning games. It is Dusty Baker who makes Joey Votto so good and it is Dusty Baker who has caused Scott Rolen to be somewhat rejuvenated in Cincinnati and these players should get no credit.

After the Reds were beat-down by the Phillies, they beat the Rockies two of three games at home and then split a 4 games series with the Nationals while at home. They didn't exactly go on a long winning streak after losing four straight to the Phillies. I don't know why Terence Moore thinks the Reds would have collapsed after losing four straight games in Philadelphia, but they didn't. I think the Reds didn't collapse because they are a good baseball team, but I have always underestimated the genius of Dusty Baker I guess.

Yes, Baker has, but he keeps surviving and prospering.

The Reds are a good team. Regardless of who their manager is, I think they would have had success this year.

(swipes low hanging fruit again) At least Dusty Baker keeps surviving and prospering because the pitchers (and their arms) under his managerial reign can't always say the same thing.

Once, during the early part of Baker's nearly two decades as an outfielder in the majors, he struggled so badly at the plate with the Los Angeles Dodgers that their supposedly laid-back fans threw "stuff" at his house and used various items to scratch his car. "The next year, I hit 30 home runs," said Baker, grinning, with the omnipresent toothpick in his mouth.

How dare the Dodgers fans not fit the stereotype that Dusty Baker and Terence Moore have for them! It's so annoying when a group of people can't just be fit nicely into a stereotype and be happy there.

Then came Baker's managerial days, filled with impressive victories but also with needless drama.

Naturally, Dusty Baker is the only manager to ever have needless drama in his clubhouse as a manager. Some of this needless drama (Bonds, Sosa) also served as success for Dusty Baker.

The thing is, Baker ignored the negativity directed toward his managerial style -- he can't handle pitchers, and he plays too many hunches, and he doesn't believe in the percentages -- and he pushed the Reds this season toward their best playoff run in 11 years.

He doesn't believe in percentages. It's not that Baker doesn't LIKE to use percentages, he doesn't believe in them. Some people don't believe there were dinosaurs on Earth, other people don't believe in evolution, and Dusty Baker doesn't believe in mathematical facts that can be proven by any person with a firm grasp of multiplication, addition, subtraction and division.

As far as Baker handling pitchers poorly and having them throw too many pitches, there is doubt as to whether he actually does this or doesn't do this. We all know the Mark Prior and Kerry Wood stories. Aaron Harang has even struggled some after Dusty Baker's arrival and 129.2 innings into his rookie year Mike Leake threw 102 pitches against the Marlins. He went 2.2 innings over his next two starts after that and now he is on the disabled list. Personally, I think Dusty Baker is a bad handler of young pitchers.

I don't advocate completely protecting pitchers' arms and babying them. I think what makes Dusty Baker so frustrating is that he doesn't give a shit about protecting a pitcher's arm. It is fine to not believe a young pitcher should be handled carefully, but the blatant disregard Dusty Baker has for even listening to the idea of not pitching guys too long is games is crazy to me. For me, it doesn't bother me that he doesn't baby pitchers, it is that he doesn't seem the least bit cautious with young pitchers, almost like he is having them throw more pitches to prove his point. So, it is not his not believing the opinion that opposes his on how to handle young pitchers that bothers me, but his blatant disregard for the opinion.

A starting pitcher never wants to come out of the game. They always think they can get out of a jam or can pitch one more inning. So many of these same pitchers who got hurt under Baker aren't going to blame Dusty Baker for "ruining" their careers. These pitchers aren't the most unbiased people to get an opinion from. I think Dusty Baker deserves criticism for showing a lack of caution and I think this criticism is warranted many times.

Elsewhere, the Cubs haven't been closer to a World Series in the last 65 years since Baker had them a Steve Bartman and five outs away from the 2003 pennant.

I'm not going to argue Baker isn't a good manager. The Cubs have won 85 and 97 games in 2007 and 2008, so it is not like they collapsed completely when he left.

Oh, and Baker took the Giants to the 2002 World Series before he left afterward for the Cubs after a falling out with former Giants owner Peter Magowan. It was silly stuff. For instance: Magowan thought Baker got too much credit when the Giants won, and guess what?

The Giants haven't won a playoff series since Baker left.

Gosh, if only there were one other variable to consider when talking about the Giants not winning a playoff series since he the overall talent of the team.

The 2003 Giants won 100 games and the 2004 Giants won 91 games. They weren't a bad team without the blessed guiding hand of Dusty Baker, but they also didn't have the same talent the Dusty Baker teams had. I won't argue Baker is a bad manager, because it isn't true, but I don't think he is an elite manager and we should not lay off him.

"I'm stronger now than I ever was before, and that is as a person, as a man and in my faith," said Baker, who spoke of acquiring even more inner strength after the death of Johnnie B. Baker Sr., in Sacramento last Thanksgiving weekend at 84. That Baker was more than Dusty's father. He was his confidant, his mentor, his friend. Said Dusty, "He was the strongest person I know of, and he taught me to step back at times and learn there is strength and stubbornness.

"Stubbornness is not good."

The man who says stubbornness is not good is the same one who doesn't believe in percentages and refuses to change his managerial style even though there is data that supports the theory he could be ruining the arms of young pitchers.

He's a noted player's manager who deserves a Medal of Courage for keeping his clubhouses from exploding in San Francisco and Chicago despite managing Bonds and Sosa, respectively. Baker leaned forward in his chair to say, "No, no. You don't manage those guys. You have an understanding."

You understand those two guys are going to do exactly what the fuck they want to do and you can't do anything about it. You also understand those two guys carried their teams for periods of time (due to steroid use of course) and there's no point in pissing them off.

Said Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, "He's also a realist, and he lets you know that if you don't get it done doing it your way, then you're going to do it his way. You look at the success he's had, and all you can do is just take it in and go with the flow.

I like how Dusty Baker tells others if they aren't having success then they should do things his way, but when others tell him he may not be doing something correct, he seems to become more stubborn and set in his ways. That's nice to hear.

The dude can manage, too. During his 17 seasons while doing so, Baker has won 52 percent of the time

Compare this to other elite managers:

Tony LaRussa: 53.5%
Bobby Cox: 55.6%
Joe Torre: 53.9%

Compared to guys who aren't really elite, but could be considered by some as elite:

Jim Leyland: 49.6%
Lou Piniella: 51.7%
Terry Francona: 52.8%
Ron Gardenhire: 54.9%
Mike Scioscia: 55.1%

And the non-elite, good managers that are managing now:

Jim Tracy: 51.0%
Buck Showalter: 51.5%
Charlie Manuel: 54.7%

Obviously some managers have managed in different situations than others and longer than others but the point I am making is that I wouldn't consider Dusty Baker an elite manager.

It's that other thing that has kept Baker from completing the ultimate jump to the managerial penthouse with Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre, his peers with at least one world championship.

So Dusty Baker isn't really elite according to Terence Moore because he doesn't have a world championship? Didn't he just call Baker elite?

Baker knows it. Everybody does. "He has as much experience as any manager in the game, and we're going to try to do the best that we can to give him a world championship so that he can have every experience possible," said Votto, whose words were relayed to Baker, but Baker didn't want to hear as much.

Said Baker, "It's not about me. It's about us. It's about this team. It's about what we can do to win this thing."

Then Baker sent Mike Leake out to throw 115 pitches and Aroldis Chapman threw 145 pitches the next day because he was rested and Baker wanted to show it doesn't hurt young pitchers to throw a lot of pitches.

In the offseason, Dusty Baker then encourages the Reds to not sign Adam Dunn because he just clogs up the bases. WHATEVER IT TAKES TO WIN!

It's about time for Baker's critics to shut up.

Actually it is not. I don't go out looking for ways to bash Dusty Baker, but my anger at having to read a fluff piece about him has led me to do so. I will quit bashing Dusty Baker on the occasion he apologizes for talking about players "clogging up the bases" and actually seems to care that he could be seen as leaving a wake of dead arms from young pitchers behind him.


Dylan Murphy said...

I can't stand Dusty Baker. He deserves more credit than he deserves. But we see this problem in baseball with regards to managers: they receive credit for longevity more than success. Same with Lou Piniella. And if we include the fact that managers don't even influence the game much in the first place, it's an even more frustrating situation.

Bengoodfella said...

Dylan, I know. I know you and I seem to be the guys who hate judging players/coaches on longevity, but I don't like it much either. Baker has been an above average manager for a while, though he is not elite. Managers and coaches get credit and blame when they don't always deserve it.

If you manage several teams and do so for a long time (like 20 years), even if you win 70 games a year you still have 1,400 wins.

Anonymous said...

You're right. This Terrence guy is an imbecile and an insult to black Americans who are analysts and writers of this great sport. He was on Outside the Lines today, discussing the importance of Frank Robinson as MLB's first black manager 40 years prior in 1974 with Bob Ley and Jeremy Schap. He lacks everything from facts to logical comparisons to simple objectivity in his arguments. He could not give any logical reasons as to why there was only 1 black manager in baseball but he was so quick to complain that there was still racism in baseball. He gave Dusty Baker as an example for blacks being treated unfairly in the sport, despite the fact that he failed miserably in the playoffs several times with the Cubs and Reds — mostly due to terribly stupid managerial moves at crucial moments in playoff games and series. Oh, and he ruined Mark Prior's brilliant, young career by overusing him early on. Moore's examples have nothing to do with the topic at hand, let alone the argument he tries to make. In fact, I think everyone in baseball thinks he's a complete idiot and that is why he's given a HOF vote. Incredible... I never listened to him speak before, and this morning while watching OTL I realized why. There are no black managers in baseball except Lloyd McClendon because there are none with the qualifications. Just like Frank Robinson had said to start off the program — the same guy who this program was supposed to be about in the first place and was supposed to celebrate the first black managerial appointment in MLB — not undermine it. I really dislike ESPN and moving onto FS1 and MLB Network for any analysis for any sport, particularly baseball, football and college football.