Dusty Baker, Reds sign a two-year extension

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Not all of today’s managerial news is carnage. Some of it is downright positive: like Dusty Baker and the Reds agreeing to a two-year extension, as the team just said in a press release.

It’s a deserved extension. Dusty led the Reds to their first playoff appearance and division title in 15 years, and their highest win total in 11. Despite his reputation for abusing young pitchers, he’s handled the staff pretty well in Cincinnati from what I can tell.

But maybe the thing that has earned him his extension more than anything is his rapport with his players. It has long been fashionable to bash Baker for various things, but his players seem to love him and respond to him.

I was particularly impressed by the way Baker handled Joey Votto’s struggles with anxiety disorder in 2009. Every statement Baker made about the situation came from an obvious and genuine place of empathy and concern for Votto the man, not Votto his first baseman. You can bet that Votto appreciated having a manager with the intelligence and sensitivity to understand his situation. You can bet that Votto’s performance in 2010 owes at least some part to the comfort he felt by having Baker in his corner and leading his team.

Yeah, we’ll all jump on Dusty in 2011 if he makes Aroldis Chapman a starter and throws him out there for 130 pitches on some cold rainy April night. But let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, let’s congratulate the Reds for making the smart choice in retaining Dusty Baker.

Video: Undercover David Ortiz drives a Lyft in Boston

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David Ortiz did one of those “Undercover Lyft” spots for, well, Lyft, in which famous people disguise themselves while driving passengers around. Yes, they’re ads, but they’re still pretty funny. At least this one was.

Best parts: (1) the woman who says she has two David Ortiz shirts to which Undercover Ortiz responds, “actually, all my shirts are his shirts”; and (2) when Ortiz agrees with someone that baseball games are “so loooong.” Oh, and at one point he tells a woman who said she was going to the Red Sox game that night that he was too. After he unmasked himself, she explains his own joke to him. Which, ooohhkay.

In other news, people who take Lyfts in Boston either don’t watch much baseball, because Ortiz’s costume is NOT very concealing, or else they simply don’t look at their Lyft driver while in the car, at all.

Scouting in Venezuela: “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time”

MIAMI - MARCH 14:  Venezuela fans cheer with a country flag while taking on the Netherlands during round 2 of the World Baseball Classic at Dolphin Stadium on March 14, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
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Ben Badler of Baseball America has a story about how major league scouts who cover Venezuela are unhappy with the rules imposed upon them by the league. Rules, they say, which unreasonably prohibit them from scouting Venezuelan players in centralized, team-controlled locations or, alternatively, flying them to team facilities in the Dominican Republic or elsewhere.

The result: international scouts are forced to travel all over Venezuela to evaluate prospect. And, given how destabilized and dangerous Venezuela has become, they believe their safety is at risk:

“MLB’s rules that limit our ability to travel a Venezuelan guy to the Dominican Republic, that limit our ability to get them in a complex at different ages, all these rules are solely contributing to the risks that all of us are taking traveling from complex to complex, facility to facility in the streets,” said one international director. “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time, and it’s on MLB when it happens, because they’re the ones who created these rules.”

As Badler notes, Major League Baseball itself has moved its annual national showcase out of the country due to safety concerns. It will not, however, relax scouting rules — which seem arbitrary on their surface in the first place — in order to make the job of international scouts safer.

It seems that Rob Manfred and the league owe their employees better than this. Or at the very least owe them an explanation why they don’t think they do.