My feet hurt. I started working out in the mornings by walking (briskly!) on my treadmill for about 40 minutes or so. After about 6 days in a row, my feet started to hurt. When I sat on my couch and put my feet up on the ottoman, my feet felt a lot better. Therefore, I have scientifically proven that walking will hurt your feet.
Using this logic, I now understand the often-misunderstood genius that is Dusty Baker….the fine manager of the Chicago Cubs. Think I am being the least bit serious right now? You know better…. Standing can be hazardous to your health….
Ever stood in line for a long time, and noticed that your legs, knees, and feet started to hurt a bit? When I was in Catholic grade school, the nuns once made us stand still in the stairway, in a straight line….for a long, long time. Apparently we were too loud, so our punishment was to simply stand still, in place. Initially I didn’t think this was much of a punishment, but then it actually did get annoying and uncomfortable fairly quickly, as I recall.
Maybe you have waited in a similarly long line at Six Flags, or at a packed grocery store, etc…. Standing around is just not much fun. Dusty Baker instinctively understands this, and….guess what….his strategies are all designed to reduce wear and tear on his guys throughout the long and arduous season of playing the game of baseball.
Don’t look directly at the Sun….
The Sun is very hot, and very bright. If you don’t believe me, just ask landscapers, construction workers, and roofing contractors….they will all tell you: the Sun is brutal! So imagine the physical and mental stress of professional baseball players, as they sit in the shaded dugout, knowing that they soon may be called to go up to bat, or even worse, out to the field! Once the inning is over, and they get to go back to the shaded dugout, their minds rarely are allowed to relax….for they know they must continue to be exposed, inning after inning, to that unforgiving ball of fire.
The Sun is hotter, and brighter, during the day. The Cubs play more day games than any other team. Dusty Baker knows this, which is why he plays, and starts, his bench guys as often as possible. Rare is the human that can handle standing in the sun, every other inning, for 2-3 hours a day! Dusty’s guys also use a heavier SPF, which weighs them down more than the opposing teams’ players, so Dusty encourages his guys to keep base-running at a minimum.
Hits are better than Walks….
Why get a walk to first, when you might be able to hit a double, a triple, or even a homerun? That is just common sense, dude. Plus, if you hit a homerun, you will be able to lightly jog, and not run, right back into the shaded dugout, allowing you to escape the scalding rays of the overhead flaming sphere. If you get a walk, you have to stand a lot (which we have proven is uncomfortable) and/or you wind up walking (which we have also proven is unsafe). Better to simply strikeout and return to the shaded dugout, than risk injury walking to first. Hitting into a double-play is especially recommended, as it allows more than one player to quickly return to the dugout, and reduces the likelihood of the additional leg stress that occurs when you have to run around all the bases and score a lot of runs.
What are Dusty Stats? These are the statistics that your team accumulates under the leadership and philosophy of Dusty Baker. Here are some examples:
The Cubs rank 7th, out of 16 teams, in the NL with a batting average of .266. This is pretty good, and shows you that Dusty’s guys can hit the ball.
The Cubs rank 16th in the NL in on-base-percentage, which means they are on base less than any other team, proving that Dusty knows how to save his guys’ legs.
The average difference between a NL team’s BA and their OBP is .69 percentage points. For example, the Cardinals have an OBP-BA differential of .68, right about the average for the league. The Cardinals have a .341 OBP and a .273 AVG, and the difference between the two is .68.
The Cubs have the lowest OBP-BA differential in the entire NL, at .51. Which shows that Team Dusty takes pride in being inefficient at the plate!
Don’t work too hard out there….
The Cubs are last in the NL in runs scored, but the extra years that Dusty’s philosophy adds to the careers of players like Ronny Cedeno, Neifi Perez, and Corey Patterson are priceless. Just imagine if those players had wasted their time, and their strength, up at the plate, or concentrating in the field.
Can you picture how tired Ronny Cedeno might get if he made pitchers work and throw more pitches? Sure, the pitcher may get tired….but what about Ronny?! The extra stress on Ronny from having to stand (probably in the Sun) through all those extra pitches would wind up grinding him down physically and mentally. If you think Cedeno doesn’t concentrate enough on the field now, imagine how bad he would be if he was taking pitches and getting walks all the time!!
Please accept my apology….
I am sorry Dusty….I was an ignorant fool for thinking that walks and OBP mattered. I didn’t take the long-term view….I lacked the ability to see the big picture. But hey….that is why you get paid $4 million a year, smart guy!
Some of you may be thinking: “Ok….if Dusty is watching out for the health of his position players, what about all these injured pitchers? Isn’t that Dusty’s fault?”
The answer is that the pitchers’ injuries are Larry “By God, Throw a Towel!” Rothschild’s fault….and Larry was hired by Jim Hendry….not by Dusty Baker!
No, I don’t really believe any of this, and I am, of course, being sarcastic. But I wanted to, just for a brief moment in time, think like Dusty Baker thinks. I gotta tell you, it is hard coming up with reasons and excuses that completely defy logic, so I have to hand it to him for being able to make it look so easy all the time.
Dusty was supposed to be a “players’ manager” that brought all these free agents to Chicago, because everyone wants to play for him, supposedly. Know what I think? I think players go to whichever team pays them the most, with a few rare exceptions. Greg Maddux didn’t come back to play in Chicago because of Dusty, and I can’t think of any other marquee free agents that have signed with the Cubs since….can you? Our best players were already here when Dusty got here (Zambrano, Prior, Wood) or they came in a trade (Lee, Ramirez, Lofton).
The fact is that statistics don’t lie, and Dusty Baker’s philosophy of “aggressive hitting” and his disdain for OBP and walks makes his team inefficient, and inconsistent. This is why they score 11 runs in one game and then a handful of runs for an entire week afterwards.
Under Dusty Baker, the Cubs offense plays with a handicap, basically. The Cubs offense has to get more hits, and more timely hits, than the opposing team does, simply because we won’t take pitches and get more walks. How many times has walks killed the Cubs pitching staff, or cost the Cubs a game this year? Ironically, Dusty complains when our pitchers walk too many guys….
Don’t get fooled by the injury excuses, Cubs Faithful. Derrek Lee was healthy last year, and had an MVP-type season, and the Cubs still had a losing record. The Cubs need to go another direction this off-season, and Dusty’s 4-year body of work, shows that he isn’t the man for the job, nor is he worth $4 million a year. Until next time, CCO Readers, hope that Hill, Marshall, and Guzman can make a great case to be in the rotation next year, hope that Lee can work on his stroke without getting reinjured again, and let’s go Cubs!