So I've been increasingly frustrated by the nature of many of our debates about Dusty. On one side, we have the "Dusty bashers" for whom he can do no right. They gripe about his lineups, his toothpicks, and nearly every game-level decision he makes. They question his treatment of pitchers, his shepherding of rookies and even his wristbands. On the other side, we have the "Dusty apologists," who defer to his knowledge of the game and his long career. They point to his recent success with the Reds, his past success with the Giants and Cubs, his ability to manage people, and his affable media personality as evidence that he is the right guy to run this club. Obviously, I'm caricaturing this debate some. There are a lot of people who fall in between the two poles I've suggested above. And there are some who vacillate depending on the issue.
One thing is clear, though. Neither side has really spent a lot of time providing more evidence for Dusty's strategic mind or his tutored approach to hitting and baseball. Most of the threads of late have based debate on one or two zesty pull quotes and then dug in their arguments based on flagrant interpretations of what he might mean. What we've overlooked is that Dusty is a scholar of hitting. He's produced tapes on hitting approaches that are there for the taking. He's certainly done interviews out there beyond the controversial one-off claims he's made about "base clogging" and "hitting the ball."
So here it is. I challenge our RZ group brain to do more research on Dusty -- to really ferret out more information on him, on his career as a player and a hitter, on his history as a manager and a thinker of baseball. I'll start with a gesture at the Dusty Baker Hitting Handbook, which is an eBook, and which I'm sure someone on here must have bought (or otherwise have access to). I'll also point you to Dusty's website, which must have some insight somewhere about what the man thinks about the larger, more abstract questions we're repeatedly throwing at him here. What does he say in there? Is it the same as what he says to the media? Does he get more specific on what he thinks about walks or bunting or stealing or batting order?
Let the games begin!