The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw

“I’m very lucky. The veterans on our club are good guys, great guys and they have no issues with anything that’s happened. You know, they don’t sit in the clubhouse and second guess why they’re not playing or where they are hitting in the lineup. They do the best they can.”      — Mets manager Terry Collins

And the teacher said
Flowers are green and red
There’s a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You’ve got to show concern for everyone else
For you’re not the only one

“Q. Did you ever consider bringing Aroldis for a second inning?
No, because potentially we have three more chances to play. Big Broxton was almost out of that inning. It’s easy to look back now and say, did you think about putting him out there? But he wouldn’t have been any good to us tomorrow, either. That’s how we have used him all year since he’s gotten to the closing role. We haven’t used him more than one inning.”     — Dusty Baker after NLDS Game 3

The teacher put him in a corner
She said, It’s for your own good
And you won’t come out ’til you get it right
And responding like you should
Well finally he got lonely
Frightened thoughts filled his head
And he went up to the teacher …

“I don’t like having guys in the middle. That’s a bad situation when you’re in the middle of anything. An unknown. Then everybody else is in an unknown situation.”      —Dusty Baker

And this is what he said …
Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen

“I ask Dusty Baker why Chapman, or any closer, doesn’t pitch in the eighth inning, doesn’t pitch when the Reds are behind, doesn’t pitch when they’re way ahead, doesn’t pitch unless the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars. He says, ‘It’s just the way things are.’’’      —Paul Daugherty

Time went by like it always does
And they moved to another town
And the little boy went to another school
And this is what he found

“You know, we talked today about hey, what we did today, should we try it again tomorrow? If we don’t, if you’re gonna, ya know, tomorrow’s a situation where I’m going to play Bax [Baxter] tomorrow in RF. He hits Leake. Are you gonna hit him in Marlon Byrd’s spot? Well, he’s really more of a second hitter than he is a fifth hitter. So, once again, you’re coming in somebody else has to hit fifth. But, that’s just the nature of what we—what the makeup of the team is and where these guys fit the best. Each and every day we put a lot of thought into where they should go and some days it works and some days it doesn’t.”     — Terry Collins

The teacher there was smilin’
She said…Painting should be fun
And there are so many colors in a flower
So let’s use every one


We so love The Box. It’s such a comfortable place for things. People. Situations. Ideas. Let’s not forget The Label. Got to label The Box so we know what to do with whatever is inside. The Box gives us guidance. The Box (and what’s inside) gives us easy answers. But more than anything, The Box grants us absolution from responsibility by our peers.

You venture outside The Box at your own risk.

Correspondingly, it should be no surprise that nowhere is The Box more beloved than sports, where tribal behavior is not just revered, it’s required. And few sports are more tribal in nature than Baseball. Only in Baseball does the manager dress as if he might take the field at any moment and partake in some big league bacchanalia.  A baseball manager is not just the field general, he’s an extension of the players, the titular head of the family. So, if you’re the manager, you just stay inside The Box, knowing you will never be criticized by members of your tribe. Oh, those outside the circle may howl, but as we all know and were so pointedly reminded after yesterday’s game, outsiders do not matter. Stay true to yourself and the tribal culture. Honor the family.

This explains much about why managers think the way they do. It’s not that they don’t understand high leverage situations. It’s not that they skipped 7th grade math. They merely have a different agenda.

For Dusty Baker, the only true high leverage situation is the one that occurs when you let down tribe by not following The Book. And where do we find The Book?

In The Box, of course.

Once you understand that high leverage situations occur only with the lead, you begin to understand the very predictable madness of today’s manager. Managers don’t lose games when they are behind or when the game is tied. High leverage situation, you say? Silly boy. It’s the players’ responsibility to successfully negotiate those situations. As the cliché goes “Players win games.” How could we forget that? But, The Book says it’s verboten in to surrender the lead without your best gun loaded and ready. So, you wait for that lead. All game, if you have to. Until tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, if necessary, like some poor Shakespearean player, creeping his petty pace from day to day, game to game. All our yesterdays lighting fools the way to dusty death.

Label it, The Manager’s Decision. Accept it. Move on. And so it goes.

As the man himself will tell you, “It’s just the way things are.”

Join the conversation! 27 Comments

  1. Eloquent, Richard. Most superstitious people in the world, athletes. I’m sure your head hurts from banging it against the wall sometimes.

  2. It’s disappointing how much Dusty hurts this team.

    • @hermanbates: I think that there are 2 questions that need consideration: 1). How much influence does any manager have on his team’s performance? 2). Do the Reds have the strongest roster in baseball? They are currently tied for the 2nd best record in all of baseball, 2 and a half games behind the best record, so if Dusty is really responsible for so many losses, it’s safe to assume that the people who say so believe that the Reds really have better players, top to bottom, than the Cardinals, Yankees, Angels, etc. I look at the roster and see 5 everyday players who are inconsistent and barely average offensively. I see a weak bench. I see a bullpen with 3 effective pitchers and a starting staff which, though good, generally requires 3 innings per game from the bullpen. The Reds are very strong defensively, have, overall, good pitching, and 3 hitters who can usually be counted on to produce. This is a decent team. A contending team. Not a shoo-in for anything. With this roster (take your blinders off, fans), how much more could any manager do?

      • Dude, take you’re rants to the Dusty Baker apologist board. This manager kills this team every night.

        • @EastCoastVibes:

          Instead of just insulting him, would you care to explain how the manager “kills this team every night”? So by your not-at-all hyperbole statement, the Reds should not have won a single game this year, right?

          • 2 hitter/misuse of bullpen. The talent will hide his stupidity in a 162 game season. Best of 5 or 7 in October they are cooked.

      • @greenmtred: I agree the roster is a problem. They are excellent defensively, but they misuse their resources. Most talented catcher on the team = Devin Mesoraco. Plays 2 of 5 and on back to back days (I will acknowledge Dusty has been in Meso’s corner a little more this year, has said Devin’s better with the staff and said he has to figure out how to spread out Meso’s starts, yet he still hasn’t done anything about it).

        Another problem is the choice of left fielder. Donald Lutz is the most talented left fielder on the roster, and he has yet to look over-matched in a game. Xavier Paul and Chris Heisey are two of the best bench outfielders in the game. Heisey’s hurt, but XP is a resource off the bench late in games. Lutz should be starting there every night, even if Ludwick were healthy.

        Another problem is the use of the ‘pen. Injuries aside, using Parra or Ondrusek ever is a poor decision. Even with Aroldis being your only lefty, Aroldis in the seventh and eighth inning and Hoover or LeCure in the eighth or ninth if the situation dictates it is how it should be done. Boxton shouldn’t be useless, but he’s lost his opportunity to face the “high leverage” late game situations. Give him some middle relief appearances, get him back on his feet, and move forward from there. But Dusty won’t do that.

        Izturis should never be used in pinch hitting situations. Ever. Yet Dusty has gone to him from time to time. Hannahan should always be the second option, never the first, yet sometimes Dusty goes with Hannahan first. “He needs his swings.” If he “needs his swings” then he’s in the wrong situation being a bench bat.

        Cozart or Frazier is struggling? Move them around the lineup! Let XP (if he’s in the lineup) or Devin bat in their spots! Don’t keep the not-producing fiends in their rigid lineup spots.

        Those are the ways Dusty mismanages this team. And it does hurt the team. The Reds are not the most talented roster in all of baseball(and I blame Walt for that), but Dusty HURTS more than he HELPS. And he really does hurt this team.

        • @hermanbates: I actually think that Robinson is a better option in left, and that Lutz has looked overmatched, though promising. With the Reds’s money, Walt would have a hard time assembling the best roster in baseball–painstaking player development, not trades and free agents would be the only way, and that’s not quick. There aren’t that many healthy, effective relief pitchers or bench players, so options are limited. How many games SHOULD they have won at this point?

      • @greenmtred: Have you checked out the Yankees lately ? The Reds do have better players than they do. As for the Angels, the Reds starting rotation vs. theirs explains why the Reds are winning and they are losing.

  3. Wow. I’m extremely depressed now. And terrified both for the future of the Reds and my children’s education. I don’t want to get up tomorrow.

  4. Rosenthal is reporting Marshall may be gone for another month and some hard thrower named Curtis Patch may get a call up.

  5. Funny Bit there Richard,

    Does art imitate life, or is truth stranger than fiction?

  6. Harry Chapin and baseball. Love it!

  7. Even Joe Maddon, arguably baseball’s most innovative manager, only uses his closer in the 9th to start the inning. You’re expecting innovation from ole’ clogging-the-bases Dusty Baker? He is what he is, and he wins a lot more than he loses.

  8. I know it’s old hat around here, but to look at the game logs of Meyer and Dibble in ’90 and see how many multiple inning games they threw, and at different innings, you just have to ask: What better model of success than a team that went wire to wire? It’s in the teams own history books. If only Hank Aaron had been on the ’90 Reds, we might have something.

  9. Sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    I’m laughing now, though. It’s a silly old world.

  10. As a specific on Sunday, Chapman to face Jones makes real sense. Chapman to pitch to 4 or 5 hitters over 2 innings … how exactly does not not work? The best relief pitcher in the N.L. is getting one inning of work every 4th day. Use him to win games, not just pretend he’s getting a great K-rate.

    Telling Izturis in an inning where the pitcher can’t get anybody out to maybe … ah, take a pitch or two …

    You can’t fix Broxton but there’s no reason for the team to melt down when there are 4 more guys in the bullpen.

    Including Sam LeCure.

    Dusty doesn’t “kill the team every night” but he isn’t making even a minor difference in the games that need dugout intervention.

  11. Here’s the main thing that I think is holding Dusty back about the usage of Chapman: personal stats.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but if Chapman were to become the first (regular) 2 inning closer in baseball, he wouldn’t get credit for saves each time he preserved the lead. Is that how it works?

    Basically, Dusty is trying to allow Chapman to pad his “stats” with a meaningless one (the “save”) reather than use him in a way that would be most beneficial to the team.

    I mean, think about it. Chapman has been and did prepare as a starter this year. Asking him to go 2 innings shouldn’t be a big deal. And yet…..

    • @CI3J: Chapman could still get the save depending on the situation. A save situation appears whenever a reliever enters a game in a “save situation” whatever the inning. So if have a 2 run lead in the 8th and Chapman comes in, as long as he finishes the game without blowing the save he gets the “save”. Of course if managers start to do that I think I might to start to respect that stat a bit more, but it won’t happen because “it’s just the way things are.”

  12. I did deep therapy on Redelg Nation last nite/this morning but I’m still fixated on not having a warmed up Chapman face Snyder, given that the Pirates had run all the way thru their bullpen. Not many situation are higher leverage that that.
    If Snyder gets a hit, Reds lose. If Snyder makes an out, an exhausted AAA pitcher comes in for the top of the 12th and the Reds probably win.

    But I was politely told that suggestion is so far out of the box that I shouldn’t even think about it.

  13. The funny thing for me is, everyone is talking about Chapman going more than one inning, and I feel the Reds win the game if Chapman faces one batter.

  14. Green, please don’t waste your breath if it’s not Dusty fault it doesn’t matter. If the players give him credit for their success then they are just being pc. If the the player slumps Dusty rested or didn’t rest them at the right time. If your relief pitcher doesn’t do their job, he used the wrong reliever. Only thing you can get majority agreement is to just blame Dusty.

  15. This reminds me of Art’s quote in Moneyball, “I’m just playing this team in a way I can explain during job interviews this fall.”

  16. Can someone please rewrite the book and add the passage, “You want your best player available for high leverage situations.”

    The NBA gets this. When the game is on the line put the ball in your best player’s hands.

    • @TC: I hear you… but I think by Dusty’s reckoning, the 8th inning is still the 3rd qtr, and he doesn’t care yet if his team is only down by a bucket.

      • @TC: I hear you… but I think by Dusty’s reckoning, the 8th inning is still the 3rd qtr, and he doesn’t care yet if his team is only down by a bucket.

        Thanks for that laugh.

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2013 Reds, Editorials