Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Reds Fire Dusty Baker: Why It's About Time (and Why I Still Like Dusty)

I'm a full day ahead of writing posts so this is the first opportunity I've had to address the firing of Mr. Dusty Baker as manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

In a single phrase:

"About Time."

Yes, Baker did a lot of good for the Reds.  He turned them into a team that consistently wins 90 games a year - an amazing feat considering how poor the Reds were prior to Baker's arrival.

Yes, Baker brought the Reds to the playoffs.

Unfortunately, the first time they got hammered by Philadelphia.

That was ok though because it was "at least we made it."

The next time, it was San Francisco doing the hammering of the Reds.

This was less ok because the Reds were up two games to none when the best-of-five series shifted back to Cincinnati.  However, you could blame the first loss on Rolen's.  The second loss on Arroyo, and the third loss on Latos' immaturity.  In fact, you could reasonably blame Cueto's injury for the entire series.

Reds fans are patient at least - but this year...


The year that the Reds had been building towards forever (or so it seemed).

A strong pitching staff.

A strong core of young players.

A few wily veterans.

And Dusty.  Ready to lead the Reds to the promised land.

Only.  He didn't.

The Reds won just enough games to make the one game playoff where they were absolutely annihilated by the much more excited Pirates.

Yes, Pittsburgh.  A team that hadn't had a winning season in 20+ years.

Pittsburgh had no trouble winning their first playoff series (where I use the term series loosely since the Wild Card play-in game is a best-of-one).

All of the sudden, a light dawned on Reds' management.

Maybe you can win the first time you make the playoffs.  Maybe a team with as much talent (and money invested) as the Reds have should be better than a "hello playoffs, goodbye playoffs" run each year.  Maybe, just maybe, bunting isn't the way to victory.

Maybe batting your worst hitter in the #2 isn't the way to victory.

Maybe Corey Patterson, Willy Taveras, Drew Stubbs, and all the other shmucks that have resided at the top of Baker's lineup card over the years aren't the way to victory.

Maybe listless performances by your veterans isn't the way to victory.

Maybe an all-of-the-sudden error prone former gold glove first baseman bumbling play after play isn't the way to victory.

Maybe a hot headed show-off second baseman who drives in a load of runs but can't get on base himself isn't the way to victory.

Certainly having your cleanup hitter injured on opening day isn't the way to victory.  Nor is losing your number one starter for most of the season.

That's what the Dusty apologists will say.

Look what he did without Cueto.  Look what he did without Ludwick.

I say, look what little he did while having Choo, Votto, Phillips, Latos, Chapman, and the rest of the Reds.

Look at how many playoff games he didn't win.

Look at how lifeless the team was down the stretch.

Heck, look what Pittsburgh did do.  The Reds should have been able run laps around this year's Pirates team.  Instead, Pittsburgh sent Cincinnati home for the winter.


And so.

It's about time I say.

Thanks Dusty.  I know this post is negative but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate what you have done for the Reds.  In fact, it's because of what you've done for the Reds that I'm now ready to move on.  You've helped turn the franchise into a respectable team.  Now it's time for someone new to step in and turn the decent Reds' team into a playoff winner.

Really, all I ask is at least one playoff series victory next year.

A World Series title will come.  But as a Reds fan, I know I need to have patience*.

*now go re-sign Choo please.


Fuji said...

Dusty Baker is baseball's Marty Schottenheimer... they both are able to build contenders... but can't quite reach the peak. SF Giants fans still talk about the epic choke during 2002 WS.

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