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The [Dusty Baker] Papers

1. The Onion was right.

2. Baker stinks.

3. In its Dusty Baker entry, Wikipedia includes these frequent criticisms of the embattled Cubs manager:

* Overuse of starting pitchers, possibly leading to short-term and chronic injury (see: Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Russ Ortiz).

* Handling rookie players poorly, putting them in positions to fail or unfairly passing them over in favor of older players.

* Ignoring statistics when filling out the lineups. For example, in a good portion of 2005 he put Corey Patterson and Neifi Perez in the top of the batting order, despite having two of the worst on base percentages on the team.

* Lacking focus

* Earning the nickname "double switch dusty" Baker often overlooks that a pinch hitter doesn't need to be placed in the field.

* Baker almost never comes out of the dugout to back up a ballplayer on a disputed call.

4. Dusty Baker is apparently still hawking a "You Can Teach Hitting" product line. The site still has video of one of his more successful students, Corey Patterson, on it.

5. Dusty Baker likened to former FEMA director.

6. How Dusty plays the media.

7. I know he's Greg Maddux and everything, but who is managing this team anyway? "Things turned for Maddux in the eighth, with a pair of singles and a throwing error by right fielder Jacque Jones leading to an unearned run." the Sun-Times reported. "After Maddux walked pinch hitter Paul McAnulty, he summoned the infield and Baker to say he was done.

"I felt the way the game was going it wasn't good to face that lineup a fourth time," said Maddux, who threw only 73 pitches. "The bullpen has been the strength of our pitching staff all year, and they still are."

Shades of Sammy Sosa deciding his own spot in the batting order.

8. WLS-Channel 7 sports anchor Mike Giangreco, in the Sun-Times: "[Baker] just doesn't seem to be a disciplinarian. He doesn't make players pay for obvious mistakes. There have been comments in the paper . . . it sounds like they're not preparing themselves for games. There aren't scouting reports, and it's kind of lax. He's not very happy here and is very defensive."

9. A little love for The Beachwood Reporter, please. On May 8, Maxim online posted its piece naming Dusty Baker the game's worst manager. That same day my brother sent me an e-mail with the link. On May 11th, I posted the link. On May 14th, the Sun-Times noted the Maxim story, though it didn't note the Reporter.

10. Dusty Baker, bullshit artist.

*

BONUS MATERIAL: The [Cubs] Papers

1. Lacy Banks goes in search of Sammy Sosa, who seems to have fallen off the face of the Earth. Someone could probably win a National Magazine Award doing the same and piecing together a true profile of one of the oddest and yet mesmerizing characters in Chicago sports history, if not in Major League Baseball. Does anyone feel yet that we really know who Sammy Sosa is?

2. Richard Badger writes to the Tribune: "Eight is not enough, but apparently nine is? That seems to be the message from Phil Rogers' May 11 column. He points out that in the last 11 years, no MLB team has lost nine or more games in a row and then come back to make the playoffs. Nine teams, however, have managed to make the playoffs after eight-game losing streaks during the regular season. His conclusion: The Cubs faced 'the first must-win game of the season' May 10 when they beat the Giants after losing eight in a row.

"Does Rogers really believe there is some magic line between eight- and nine-game losing streaks? In his generally interesting and informative pieces, Rogers occasionally drops in some statistical tidbit that must have taken him a lot of effort to discover. Sometimes the significance of the data is obvious, and I appreciate that he brought it to our attention. This was not such a case."

Badger is right. Rogers confuses cause and effect when he writes that If the Cubs were to lose their ninth in a row, the odds that they come back to make the playoffs drastically decrease, possibly even to zero. The more useful way to interpret the statistic Rogers has dug out is to say that playoff teams tend to avoid hideously long losing streaks; for example, in the last 11 years no team that has made the playoffs went through a losing streak longer than eight. On the other hand, I wonder how many teams went through longer losing streaks period. It could be that even non-playoff teams don't often have losing streaks that long. You can see how quickly this statistic evaporates in significance, not to mention that like in the stock market and corporate finance, past performance is no indicator of future success or failure.

3. Wouldn't we all be having a lot more fun if Mark Grace and Steve Stone were still around? And Rick Sutcliffe?

4. Phil Rogers recently wrote: "[T]he Tribune Co. and Cubs President Andy MacPhail, the bridge between 435 N. Michigan Ave. and 1060 W. Addison Ave., continue to run their baseball team in mysterious ways." Please elaborate. I mean, besides the obvious inability to field a decent team.

5. Just who is Mike Kiley of the Sun-Times calling a liar? "Anyone who chooses not to believe Cubs officials who let it be known privately they haven't inquired about a trade for Arizona first baseman Tony Clark should know this: Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes said Thursday he hasn't heard from the Cubs about Clark," Kiley wrote recently. "A report that the asking price for Clark is too high for the Cubs is fiction because the parties haven't spoken to this point."

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