There was a bit of a hubbub on the Twitters yesterday when MLB Network’s Brian Kenny took Dusty Baker to task. You see, Dusty left Homer Bailey in yesterday’s game somewhere between 2 and four batters too long (I know, it’s hard to believe, but it’s true) and the Reds ended up losing by the runs Bailey gave up to those batters. After the game Dusty explained that Homer had pitched well and he was trying to get him the win by keeping him in the game as long as he did.
Brian Kelly pointed out how ridiculous that mindset was and many of us who follow the Reds on a semi-daily basis rejoiced. It’s nice to see someone in the media repeat what you’re thinking.
What struck us as odd was that it took an outsider to what we’ll call the mainstream Reds media to point out the idiocy in putting team success behind an individual’s statistics. We follow most of the local Cincinnati reporters who work the Reds beat and not one of them had anything to say regarding Dusty’s explanation.
Furthermore – and this is entirely based on our own observations and is thus completely unscientific – it seems as though those I referred to earlier (professional journalists on the Reds beat) are quick to respond or downplay fan complaints with Baker’s managing. For example, Drew Stubbs leading off last year, Zack Cozart batting second this year, Aroldis Chapman closing, Aroldis Chapman never coming into a close game before the 9th inning, etc.
It’s weird. They’re much less likely to reflexively defend players this way, and some – WLW is notorious for this – have been known to slam players that would have been popular otherwise (Adam Dunn nods knowingly.)
What’s the explanation? Is Dusty such a good guy that a supposedly impartial, professional journalist will scream “small sample size” at one fan complaint and then turn around and use a stat from an equally small sample to deride another? His players are quite fond of him, there’s little debate about that – but it’s worth asking if those reporters whose job it is to objectively gather and disseminate information about the team are really doing so.
Marvin Lewis doesn’t appear to get this as much (although we don’t follow the Bengals beat as closely as the Reds so we could be wrong) but there is one mindset we’ve observed from some media members regarding both. That mindset is that because the Reds and Bengals were terrible prior to Marvin and Dusty’s arrivals, fans of those teams should put this in perspective and just enjoy the success they get.
We reject this view.