Monday, May 15, 2006

Despite Calls for His Head, Dusty Baker Keeps Job

Demands for the Cubs to fire embattled manager Dusty Baker have become so shrill that even established columinists are openly calling for Baker's head. Baker's players, laments Chicago Sun-Times writer Jay Mariotti, are "playing like dog poo. . .no fire, no soul, no purpose; hitters swinging at first pitches, pitchers not covering first base, etc." Meanwhile Baker's former projects, such as former Cubs center fielder Corey Patterson, whom Baker nearly destroyed, are thriving once they escape Baker's influence, as Patterson is playing outstanding defense, driving in runs, stealing bases and hitting for power in Baltimore. The problem with Baker is that he manages without daring, imagination or creativity, preferring to coddle his players, especially those with seniority, like campers on a Girl Scout outing rather than men on a baseball team. Anything to keep peace in the clubhouse. But despite mounting fans' displeasure, and even after the Cubs have lost 14 of the last 16, expect Baker to keep his job. Cubs ownership, the Tribune Co., is more concerned with milking the team for profits than winning ballgames, and as such has no willingness to rock the boat as long as fans keep filling the seats at Wrigley Field. Says Mariotti: "Baker is the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong point in time, looking alternately helpless and clueless in a dugout begging for leadership and life," yet GM Jim Hendry will never admit Baker's hiring was a mistake.