Want to stick as a 21st-century skipper? Don't be like Baker.
Dusty Baker was fired on Friday, and few Twitter tears were shed. When a manager who’s perceived to be anti-analysis gets the axe, sabermetricians celebrate. It's about time, we think. All those bunts by position players, all those illogical lineups, all those refusals to bring in the closer with a tie game on the road. We said they didn’t make sense, and someone finally listened. Maybe Bob Castellini reads blogs! Ding-dong, the Dusty era is dead. We did it!
Well…no, probably not. Most managerial hirings and firings aren’t referendums on the industry’s acceptance of sabermetrics, or the result of what anyone on the internet says. Sure, Baker was known as one of the game’s most first- and second-guessable tactical managers, and sure, he’s now out of a job. Correlation, causation, etc. Maybe Baker was let go because the Reds felt his in-game decisions and reluctance to look at certain stats were costing them wins, but it’s not the only (or even the most likely) explanation.
Like Mike Scioscia Face, but for managers not named Mike Scioscia.
On every major-league team, in every major-league dugout, you will find the same thing: A manager, with a face. This is important to remember if you ever find yourself filming a baseball game for a regional sports network, because the manager's face is the spine of your narrative. Every manager's face is different, but every manager's face is important, and every manager's face can be counted on to do some sort of Manager Face thingy when the manager's team screws up.
We now embark on a tour of the Manager's Faces in Major League Baseball today. The exact context of these faces isn't terribly important, but know that every face is motivated by chagrin, caused by either a team miscue (usually a bases-loaded walk, a fielding error, or bad baserunning), an umpire's call, or some sort of bad luck. We will start with our first set of 10. Others to follow at some point soon.
Does separating starters of the same type in the same rotation make sense?
It's the time of year when managers start thinking about games that will actually count. Positional battles are heating up, because decisions need to be made. Opening Day starters are being named. Variations in lineups are being considered, for facing righties, lefties, and Pat Venditte. Your favorite team has spent the spring trying to decide between two players, both of whom are relative unknowns. Due to the 50/50/90 rule (when you have a 50/50 chance of getting something right by chance, you will get it wrong 90 percent of the time), they will pick the wrong utility infielder and the other guy will become a decent starter for some other team.
Remembering a man whose career may have spawned those of many subsequent skippers.
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Jonathan Bernstein writes A Plain Blog About Politics and also writes about politics at the Washington Post and elsewhere. He misses, always, rec.sport.baseball.