Lunch with Dusty Baker with some questions answered!

August 13, 2016

“As you go through life, collect experiences, not souvenirs. They don’t wear out, and you don’t have to dust them.”—Me

Thanks to the Stand Up To Cancer charity auction last winter, today we had lunch with Dusty and the coaches in the clubhouse.  That was one of those memorable experiences.  We actually got to walk through the clubhouse (Hi, Sammy!) after Kyle Brostowitz (media contact) went ahead to be sure there were no naked men. Given all the signs around, I suspect that this was one of the very few times that women have actually walked through there.  We got to see the video room where the replays are reviewed and players can come review their at-bats, the well-stocked kitchen (five different kinds of milk), and the conference room where we ate (only photo on the wall:  flying Werth).  The conference room included a beer fridge, although no one got anything out of it except cold water.  After lunch, Dusty invited us to his office where he explained the photos on his walls, and gave us a signed bat (ok, souvenir!). On the way out, we said Hi to Bat Hoarder, who was on his way in.


I didn’t get to ask all the questions proposed by the TalkNats crew, but I did ask some.  I’d ask a question, and the answers would meander off into related anecdotes, so it would be a few minutes before I’d get back to the next subject. I didn’t raise any questions about Pap, nor Bryce.  They said that Drew is just so frustrated that he can’t play, but it just takes time.

On to the questions:

First, on Yusmeiro Petit.  I asked the group if he was the “break glass in case of emergency” as in extra innings.  The consensus around the table was yes . . . but then look at tonight (Per Chelsea Janes), Petit was listed as NTP (need to pitch) because it had been a while.

Second, on Stephen Strasburg road/home ERA splits.  This discussion morphed into how the players train in the heat, how other teams deal with it (Texas sees heat as a home field advantage).   As far as road/home splits, if a pitcher gives up so few runs, a couple of bad games here and there can skew the statistics, so if those happen at home or on the road, a split like that could result.

Third, who was the best surprise out of Spring Training?  Dusty: Roark and Ramos.  Maddux:  Kelley and Drew, because both were terrible in Spring Training, and were so much better in the season.  Drew apparently failed the pop-up drill.  Dusty doesn’t follow social media (or, for that matter, other media) so I explained the “LASIK for everyone” response to Ramos. Kyle reminded Dusty of the “Difo” incident back in Spring Training.

Fourth, no, they hadn’t thought about listening to the fans via one of the President’s heads (although they all got a laugh out of the idea).  Dusty said he learned his lesson back in LA:  as a player, if you start listening to the fans or the media, you’re either the greatest or the worst.  Neither are helpful.  Going the other way, the media guy goes over the likely question with Dusty in advance (there were a lot of comments around the table about Terry Collins’ rant).  They did note that the DC media was more easy-going than other places.

Fifth, craziest thing that happened on the mound visit.  SF, Dusty goes out to the mound, bases loaded, to talk to his pitcher (who happened to be one of the two lefties).  The pitcher is blinking like crazy.  He says “I got to call my mom.”  Dusty “What!? Why?” (and the umpire is approaching to break up the conference).  Pitcher says “I forgot to take my Ritalin: I have to call my mom to bring me some!”  Dusty: “How long you been taking that?”  “Fifth grade.”  Dusty: “OK, can you get this guy out?” Pitcher: “Yes, I think so.”  And he did.  Next night, the other lefty is on the mound, Dusty goes out to talk to him, and he’s blinking like crazy as well.  Dusty: “What’s wrong?”  “I forgot to take my Ritalin.”  Dusty: “How long have you been taking it?”  “Second grade.”  “Can you get this guy out?”  “Yes.”  “OK, then.”  (And he did).  But what are the odds that the two lefty pitchers on the staff forget to take their Ritalin on back-to-back days?

Sixth, the “do-over.”  Dusty would like to be able to run (not have gotten injured and required surgery).

Of the coaches, Maddux and Speier had the most to say to us.  Maddux loves the N-A-T-S cheer because he can hear it and know we scored.  Speier gave us advice about going to Arizona for Spring Training.  Maddux wanted to know who are my favorite pitcher (Roark, because of the back story, even if Scherzer can pitch an awesome game) and favorite player (Werth, because although he knows that time is against him, he’s doing the best to offset aging with smart playing).  Dusty told the media guy to make sure to go read the TalkNats blog for the baseball rhymes (Dusty has a friend who does the same rhyming thing after their hunting trips.)  I think a couple of the coaches/media guys check out TalkNats regularly, just based on certain responses (but you already knew that).

We ended up talking a lot about Spring Training. It’s a real challenge for the coaches, especially new ones, because there are 60-70 players, the faces are unfamiliar, and the uniforms are often covered by the jackets.  One of the coaches was assigned to keep the roster of the Red Group and the Blue Group players (which players go to which field).  A guy comes up to him in Viera, and says “excuse me, which group do I belong in?”  Coach (who shall remain anonymous): “Who are you?”  “Daniel Murphy.”

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