It’s so cute how the Cincinnati Reds think they’re close to winning a pennant. Sure, they’ve won the NL Central in two of the last three years, and yes, they have a great player at first base in Joey Votto and a couple of really good starting pitchers, plus a crazy Cuban closer who throws like 1,200 miles an hour. But today they announced they’re keeping Johnnie B. Dusty Baker as their manager for two more years.
All that means is they’re going to have two more years for Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos to get hurt, two more years for Votto and Brandon Phillips to get older, and two more years of Zack Cozart and his sub .300 on base average hitting first or second in the lineup.
You get a lot of good things when you have Dusty as your manager. You get a shitload of made up Hank Aaron stories. You get pregame dim sum and Miles Davis on the clubhouse stereo, and the fans behind the home dugout get real-live, game worn, manager wrist bands tossed into the stands after wins.
You also get a lot of bad. You get terrible in-game strategy. You get drooled on toothpicks scattered all over…everywhere. You also get a lot of non-sensical pre and post-game comments, paranoia, and improperly filed federal taxes. For all of his success, Dusty has still never won a playoff series without the assistance of a bloated, steroid ravaged corner outfielder in the middle of his lineup.
He’s also at his worst when the stakes are the highest. His 2002 Giants squandered a three games to two lead over the Angels in the World Series. His 2003 Cubs blew a three games to one lead in the NLCS. His 2010 Reds got no-hit in their playoff debut and then swept and this year’s Reds are the only team in big league history to lose three straight home playoff games to end a series. (That last one might seem like nit-picking, but the two-three playoff format was used extensively when the League Championship Series were only five games (remember the Cubs having to go to San Diego for three games in 1984?), so it wasn’t a one year thing this season.)
What makes Dusty so infuriating to have running your favorite team is his wildly inconsistent reasoning. Dusty laments (rightly so) when his pitchers walk hitters, but doesn’t like it when his hitters work counts and draw walks. He holds true to an absurd notion that slow runners “clog the bases” and should only try to hit homers, because if they walk or hit a single they just screw things up for the guys behind them.
Dusty has a long track record of burning out relief pitchers from overuse, and from wrecking arms on starting staffs by letting young starters throw too many pitches. It’s tough to overwork both a rotation and a bullpen, but Dusty’s been great at it for nearly 20 years now.
As a Cubs fan I could give a shit if the Reds want to keep wasting a talented roster on a dope like Dusty. Actually, I could give a shit, I’m all for it. I’m amazed that an excellent general manager like Walt Jocketty keeps the Dustbag around. But anything that pisses off Franchester Brennaman and his demon offspring is fine with me.
Keep up the good work, dude.