Remember that scene in the movie Bull Durham when Crash Davis (aka Kevin Costner) tells the manager what he should do to get his team to respond? Funny, you see those kinds of tricks work in the movies.
But believe it or not, the Cincinnati Reds manager may have hit a home run of his own with such a tantrum back in April.
If you don't remember from the movie, Crash Davis tells the manager to remember that the guys are just a bunch of kids, and that you have to scare them to get them to listen.
The manager then goes ballistic, throws baseball bats all over the clubhouse, and rips the team for lollygagging, not being committed, and playing like horse pooh. Magically, the team responds, and they live happily ever after.
ANYWAY, back to reality. On April 24, after the Reds were shut out by San Diego five to nil, Dusty Baker let them have it. And they deserved it.
Cincinnati produced all of four hits (to go along with being shut out), had three base running errors (caught stealing twice), Drew Stubbs lost track of how many outs there were, and starter Johnny Cueto added a wild pitch and hit a batter to a so-so mound performance. After this fiasco the Reds had all of seven wins to go along with 11 losses.
According to an article on Cincinnati.com from April 25 Baker was asked about the so-called closed door meeting with his bunch of lollygaggers. His response: "Anybody that's a parent knows that sometimes you’ve got to chastise your child,” Baker said. "Even though you spank 'em, you still love 'em. It’s over now."
Dusty had seen this poor play all to often, "It wasn't just yesterday (April 24), it was a number of things," Baker said. "You just gotta keep teaching and preaching." He went on to say, "It’s not through lack of effort, it’s proper effort." It was obvious to everyone.
Funny, Baker hasn't been there long enough to understand that this is the type of play Reds fans have seen for the last 10 years. Surprisingly enough, the Reds actually took to Dusty's get-your-butt-in-gear-or-get-out firestorm. Cincinnati has gone 16-5 since that time, had an 11-game errorless streak, and is playing the type of ball Reds fans enjoyed prior to 2000.
They have even produced some wins that still make me question whether or not I actually saw it, including Tuesday's (May 18) come from behind 5-4 victory over Milwaukee where they scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth (four runs total in the final two innings)!
Not only are the Reds playing like winners, they are also playing the part. On ESPN Radio's Baseball Tonight Monday night (May 17), rookie pitcher Mike Leake spoke with ESPN's Chuck Wilson. The interview sounded like Wilson was conversing with a 10-year veteran: no frills, no over-the-top statements...just baseball.
Leake credited his success to watching and learning from the veterans (Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang, and others) and pretending like you have been there before. Wow, it was refreshing to hear.
For those of you who still don't believe, or are just waiting for the Reds to hit the brick wall (don't worry, we've seen it all to often), I think you need to reconsider.
Or maybe rent Bull Durham and scare yourself at how eerily similar that flick from 1988 resembles the Cincinnati Reds of 2010.
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