Contorting the Words


Ever see one of those headlines and your curiosity just gets the best of you? You had to click that link to see if what the title says is true. You read and reread it. You stare, almost with a blank look on your face, in disbelief of what you read.

I know I usually save some headlines for the weekends when I do my links around the division and those that mention the Reds, but this one was too good to hold off until then.

The headline that piqued my interest…”Dusty Baker is Afraid of the Cubs”.

No, it’s not a misprint, typo or anything of the sort. It’s legit. It’s an actual post from Bleacher Nation authored by “Ace”. I know Bleacher Nation has a large following (3,355 Twitter followers as of the timing of this), but we must take what Baker told the Chicago Tribune and place it in its proper perspective.

Baker was interviewed by Fred Mitchell of the Tribune. His piece on that interview is here. Mitchell chose the word “wary”. A better one if I must say.

Dusty knows there were teams that made efforts to improve their rosters during the off-season. He mentions Milwaukee, St. Louis and the Cubs.

"“Our division is tougher. The Cubs are better, they have picked up some pitching, and they’ve got some healthy pitching coming back, and they have some new players,” Baker said Tuesday in an interview with the Tribune from his Northern California home. “You look at the Cardinals and they’ve got (Ryan) Theriot and they added (Lance) Berkman. That’s a powerful bat right there. And they already have a very good team.“You look at Milwaukee and they are a year older and more experienced with a great offense already. They have added some big-time pitching. Our division is going to be one of the tougher divisions. Seems like whoever was trading somebody was trading to our division. It’s going to be a tough fight; it’s going to be a tough division. But, hey, that’s what it’s all about.”"

Translation: Dusty knows what his Reds must do in order to repeat. The three teams mentioned by Baker made perceived (and significant in some cases) upgrades to their rosters. That’s a fact.

But to draw from this that Dusty is afraid of the Cubs? The Cubs add a .196 bat (granted, with 30+ homer power) and an arm or two. That suddenly makes them a team to incite fear within the halls of GABP?

Not at the present, it doesn’t. I know last year is last year, but what was the Cubs record against the Reds last season? 4-12, that’s what is was. Bring up the past all you want. (I know, I just did.) People tend to look back, but does it play like it used to play? The world has become a “what have you done for me lately” world. Not what you did five, ten years ago. Hell, maybe not even just last year. You could say we’ve evolved into a “what will you do for me” type world. Well, unless your team has the upper hand. Again, it’s an overplayed point.

But if you must play that “past” card, I will. 1908. Need I say more?

Then, there was this…

"“But 2011 is a new year, and Dusty has plenty of young arms to destroy.”"

Another indictment that occurred years ago. We all know the stories regrading Kerry Wood and Mark Prior and how it has been said on many an occasion that Baker overused them. It’s a fact that I, too, will agree upon. But this is not the same Dusty Baker that was in charge in Chicago. Mike Leake was shut down. Travis Wood had his innings and pitch count closely monitored. And that was somewhat the case with Edinson Volquez as well. Some just can’t let the past be the past.

And here’s the kicker…

"“Sure, he’s just playing the part. But I choose to believe he’s afraid of the Cubs. Terrified. His toothpick is shaking.”"

Yes, Ace is more than entitled to his choice. That’s what makes the whole blogosphere go ’round, doesn’t it?

I know of no one that’s afraid of the Cubs. Well, there may be one guy…