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Dusty Baker Is Back

Sound familiar?

1. "Dusty Baker Hates Hits, Reds Fans."

2. "Every time the man talks strategy, every time he starts in on his disdain for slow-footed sluggers who 'clog the bases' with walks, every time he goes to the bullpen early - heck, every time he fills out a lineup card - he becomes an easy target for stats-crunching critics everywhere."

3. "I was on the Dodgers' all-time team as an outfielder. I was on the all-time San Francisco Giants' team as the manager. I started out great in Chicago and then ended up on the all-nothing team."

4. "If you didn't live through it, you can't imagine how bad it was. That was Johnnie B. 'Dusty' Baker talking, inside the visiting clubhouse at Legends Field. He had been asked about his previous job as manager of the Chicago Cubs, which ended in 96 losses.

"It happened two years ago, an endless summer of misery and helplessness for a man who has been National League Manager of the Year three times. As he says, 'I wasn't used to that, especially when in your own mind you believe you have the Midas touch. Then when that Midas touch isn't working, you realize how much is out of your control."

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"Maybe I was chosen for this situation. It seems like I've been in and out of something like this my whole life. Sometimes you ask the Lord, 'Why me?' Then you get the answer: Why not me?"

5. "Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy For Reds."

6. "Dusty Baker and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance."

7. "The Reds' Disappointing Off-Season Decision."

8. "I also see a team with a manager completely and totally ill-suited to his personnel, with an outsized reputation that far exceeds his actual performance and more control over the roster than he should be allowed. Sometimes I think I'm too hard on Dusty Baker, given that he has managed successful teams, made postseasons, won a pennant, owns a career .527 winning percentage from the dugout. Maybe I make him a caricature, a toothpick-chewing, OBP-hating Luddite who doesn't trust anyone under 30.

"Then he starts talking."

9. "A quick glance at the FanHouse sundial makes it official: It's only March 5. Yet Dusty Baker has managed to humorously alienate nearly every intelligent Reds fan in the greater Cincinnati area. How? The requisite bit about walks clogging the bases is an excellent start, of course, but that's not all; Dusty followed that up yesterday by bringing back two of his mostest favoritest players in the world from the Cub years, Corey Patterson, and Jerry Hairston, Jr.

10. "It's late February, the pitchers and catchers have reported, this cold midwestern winter is, ever so slightly, warming up - it's a time of rebirth. A time of epiphany. A time for baseball's dignitaries to come out of the cold and reveal their newfound knowledge. A time for Dusty Baker to . . . continue to prattle on about on-base percentage!

11. "Outfielder Jay Bruce visited with manager Dusty Baker to clear things up today. Bruce wanted his manager to know he hasn't had leg 'problems.'

"As far as professional baseball, I missed three or four games at the end of the year with a hamstring," he said. "I played 133 games last year. In Dayton (in 2006), I missed one game."

He missed the game in Dayton with a quad problem, but it was a bruise that was the result of breaking a bat over his knee.

Baker said Monday he is a bit concerned that Bruce has had some problems with his legs, and that it might affect whether he plays Bruce in center field.

Bruce said he is not concerned about how the addition of Corey Patterson will affect him.

12. Chad Fox defends Baker too.

13. Dusty Baker is the Cincinnati Reds' new manager, but he's an old-school guy. And Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer loves that. 'The best baseball managing is done by the seat of your pants, using good, old-fashioned, pre-sabermetric logic,' he writes. 'That's another reason to like Dusty Baker. (Beyond his knowledge of single-malt Scotches and Van Morrison lyrics, which is merely astounding and downright Renaissance.) If Baker manages by a book, it's one inside his head, not one written by Bill James. The other day, the Reds manager decided he wanted Joey Votto and Adam Dunn to swing their bats more. 'I don't like called third strikes,' Baker said. Can we get an Amen?'

Oh boy. That begged for a response from the baseball enthusiasts of Fire Joe Morgan, and Ken Tremendous doesn't disappoint (bad language warning): 'There's a war brewing in Cincinnati. On one side: the Dustyites. On the other side: common sense. Articles are being written every day celebrating the folksy wisdom of a man who thinks bases are only good when there's no one standing on them. This is exactly what happened in L.A. when Grady Little was hired - 'He's folksy! He's down-home! He has a drawl!' (one year later) 'He kind of stinks!'

"As is Fire Joe Morgan's wont, the site's response pitilessly deconstructs Mr. Daugherty's column point by point. For example, to his statement that 'It always amuses when fans defend heart-of-the-order hitters by pointing to their on-base percentage. Wow, look at all those walks,' Fire Joe notes that 'five of the top six teams in walks last year were playoff teams.'

"'That's another reason to like Dusty Baker. (Beyond his knowledge of single-malt Scotches and Van Morrison lyrics, which is merely astounding and downright Renaissance.)

"'It doesn't matter to me if a guy gets on base if he can't run. If he can't run he's just clogging up the bases. Also, in an unrelated matter, it's a marvelous night for a moondance." (does a shot of Lagavulin 21).'"

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