Saturday, February 18, 2006

Dusty Baker: A Laugh a Minute

Cubs manager Dusty Baker is often recogized for his dugout accomplishments, but all to often overlooked is his greatest talent as a standup comedian. For instance, in his opening statement to the press and players, Baker promises to have open competition in spring training to assure the Cubs have their most effective and competitive players on the field as they begin the 2006 pennant drive. Ha! Ha! Ha! Oh, that Dusty. What a riot! Everybody knows, of course, that this is one ex-Marine who has no more intention of promoting his best young players than any other drill sergeant has of granting recognition and privileges to younger members of the rank and file. Baker knows that all the pennants and titles in the world amount to nothing if you lose control of your clubhouse, and the best way to hold control -- and keep your job -- is to value seniority, not ability, because veterans have a way of bellyaching to their clubhouse buddies and rookies are humble and submissive, and don't have any clubhouse buddies. Therefore, rookie SS Ronny Cedeno, who batted .300 in an 80-AB trial last year, and OF Matt Murton, who batted .321 in 140 ABs, likely can be expected to ride the pine in favor of SS Neifi Perez, 32, and OF Marquis Grissom, 38, a Baker crony. It's no accident that the Cubs just handed Perez a two-year contract and signed Grissom as a free agent.