How Dusty Baker Ruined The 2008 Reds Season Before It Started

Jux BergSenior Analyst IMay 20, 2008

Cincinnati Reds Owner Bob Castellini said he meant business this year.  “The losing will stop,” he proclaimed.  He hired ultra-successful former St. Louis GM Walt Jocketty as his top adviser, and signed off on the addition of Dusty Baker as the new skipper. 

Baker had a history of winning baseball games.  Of course, he did it with a roided-out Barry Bonds, a Cubs team featuring young phenoms Kerry Wood and Mark Prior and don't forget a roided-out Sammy Sosa.

Baker had just missed out on a world championship in 2002 when his Giants coughed up a 3-2 series lead (and a 4-0 lead in the 5th inning of Game 6) to the Angels.  The following year he was victimized by the infamous Steve Bartman game as his Cubs blew a 3-1 NLCS lead over the upstart Florida Marlins. 

In other words, if you want to be blunt about it, his teams choked, and he got out-managed worse than Roseanne Barr’s cholesterol level by her undying love for cheeseburgers.

So as Dusty arrived to spring training this season, he looked around, and announced to reporters that he didn’t “know many of these guys.”  He said he had been getting phone calls from former players who were excited to come play for him.

In other words, guys who were too sh*tty to be on a major league roster.

Baker took a look at the center field position/leadoff hitter spot first.  He wasn’t aware that last season, a long-time minor league veteran named Norris Hopper, finally got a chance to play on a regular basis—and Hopper hit well over .300 while playing a solid center field.  I’m sure people told him this, but he didn’t care, because he didn’t “know Norris Hopper.”

He also had the option of hometown favorite Ryan Freel: a scrappy, fiery, crowd-igniting wall-wrecker.  But, again, he didn’t “know Freel.”

His other option just happened to be the #1 ranked prospect by Baseball America, 21-year-old Roy-Hobbs-clone Jay Bruce.  But he wrote him off too.

Instead, Dusty brought in “his guy,” Corey Patterson, a.k.a. the most overrated, lazy, impatient-at-the-plate player of all time.. to BAT LEADOFF.    

Not only has Patterson continued his career pattern of sucking harder than a Vegas hooker on an 89-year-old john (.226 AVG, .271 OBP, 8 BB in 39 G), but the decision to bring this clown in has alienated Dusty from the rest of his players in the clubhouse. 

The first rule when you take a new job is that you don’t come in and dismiss what the current employees have been doing and start implementing all kinds of new agendas and plans before you get to know everyone. 

And now, the Reds currently sit seven games out of 1stplace in the NL Central while Dusty Baker continues to stubbornly run Corey Patterson out there on a regular basis.  Awesome. 


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.