R.I.P. Dusty Baker
(Nov. 2002 - Oct. 2006)
"It's called hitting, and it ain't called walking."
The day we all knew was coming has finally arrived. Dusty Baker will not be back as Cubs manager next year.
I suppose the range of emotions will run the gamut for Cubs fans.
There will be some who feel sadness, that a good man is taking the fall for the shortcomings of others.
There will be some who feel relief, just glad we can talk about something else.
There will be some filled with exuberance, finally this dark cloud that has hovered over us has been removed from our most beloved team.
And then there will be some like me, feeling all three emotions simultaneously. The latter two are pretty easy to explain, but it's a bit of shame that Dusty becomes the fall guy when he just had no chance of competing this year. Not with this team, not with it's unfortunate luck. I would have preferred he'd been let go sooner or in different circumstances. I would rather have seen him retired after hoisting a World Series trophy over his head while wearing Cubbie blue. But alas, that was not in the cards. I would have even preferred if he was fired for being the fraud that he is, the overpaid four million dollar manager who was a glorified baby-sitter, whose deficiencies far outweighed his benefits. That may seem a harsh, but at least it would have been a bit more more fair.
If you frequent this site on a daily basis, the rantings about Dusty have been numerous from both readers and writers alike. Most of it seemed concentrated on his in-game management skills and questionable lineup choices. While that's certainly a part of a manager's job and certainly something Dusty proved to be sorely lacking at, there were far greater baseball sins that he committed.
It begins with Dusty's, "Us against the world"
attitude which helped foster a team of unlikeable hacks more concerned with their public perception than their baseball abilities. His constant whining and excuse-making filtered down through the team. And when your manager believes that you can't win without all your guys, how can you expect your players to believe they can? When your manager doesn't own up to his mistakes, how can you expect your players to? When your manager doesn't believe the youngsters can perform in pressure situations, how can you expect the youngsters to believe they can?
For it is my opinion that an organization takes on the personality of its leaders, and while one may technically point to the front office as the leaders, they have very little interaction with the players. No, it's the manager that's leading this ship and in Dusty's case he proved the only man worse at handling a catastrophe was Captain Edward John Smith.
And much like the Titanic, when things were running smoothly, the captain could just sip his tea and enjoy the view. But when tragedy hit, Dusty, much like Captain Smith, panicked himself into enough poor decisions to make a difficult situation even worse. And yes, maybe the blueprint was inherently flawed, but the execution turned a bad situation into a debacle.
So I shall not miss Sir Dusty, no, not one bit. He probably deserved better, but he brought the contempt of the fans on himself with his constant head-scratching decisions and comments. Good night and good riddance. He shall be missed by few and praised by far less.