Thursday, May 26, 2005

Memory Lane

Last year, Dusty Baker gave an interview (excepted here from a column by the Daily Herald's Bruce Miles) in which he talked about walks. I light of today's disgusting performance of taking almost no pitches against the league leading walk-gifting pitcher, I thought it would be fun to revisit the conversation.

"I think walks are overrated unless you can run," Baker said. "If you get a walk and put the pitcher in a stretch, that helps. But the guy who walks and can't run, most of the time they'’re clogging up the bases for somebody who can run."

That kind of talk is nothing short of heresy for those in the OBP-is-king camp. Baker, an old-school sort, doesn't seem to mind.

"Who's been the champions the last seven, eight years?" he asked "Have you ever heard the Yankees talk about on-base percentage and walks? Walks help. But you ain'’t going to walk across the plate. You're going to hit across the plate. That's the school I come from.

"It's called hitting, and it ain't called walking. Do you ever see the top 10 walking? You see top 10 batting average. A lot of those top 10 do walk. But the name of the game is to hit."

Now, last year I gave Dusty the benefit of the doubt here. Not that he was joking, rather that he was running interference from questions about Mark Prior. See, that was the same day that Baker also said this:

Baker said it's too soon to know when Prior will be ready but added there's no need to panic if Prior doesn't make his scheduled start April 8 in Cincinnati.

"I'm not saying that's the case, but we used to leave Bobby Welch behind every year in spring training," Baker said, referring to his old Dodgers teammate.

"It's an unfortunate situation. [Prior] hurt his Achilles' and it got him behind. If you're behind, you have to catch up at the normal pace. You can't catch up at the accelerated pace or something else may happen."

At the time, I suggested that Baker was saying something idiotic to keep discussion away from what was clearly a bigger story - Prior's injury. Given that Prior missed 2 months, that sure seemed like a decent guess on my part.

But after today's performance? I don't believe that Baker's ever revisited this topic. It would be fun to ask him now.

Especially if he gets his ass shipped out of town soon.

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