Grady is here to tell you: It's time for Dusty Baker to go. Go where? Grady doesn't care. Grady is sure that Dusty can pack up his sweatbands and his millions of dollars and find somewhere nice and scenic to sit and watch young men be overworked. Dusty might make a fine foreman at a South African diamond mine or a good city editor at the Sun-Times.
As chief executive officer of hardball scouting for the Tribune Co., Grady has spent a good deal of time now sitting in the stands in Sheboygan and Springfield, choking down lips-and-hooves tubesteaks and dollar brews, and he's learned a lot from the guys with the radar guns and the pocket protectors. For example, the pencil-necks are real big on this thing called Pitcher Abuse Points. They use this system as a way to measure "stress" among pitchers. Like pitchers have any stress -- we should all be so lucky only to have to work every five days! Jesus. Anyway, big league skippers have a private lotto going with these abuse points, where they attempt to outdo each other in pushing their starting pitchers to the bounds of endurance. They then total up their points at the end of each game and submit them to Jimmy Leyland, a pioneer in the black art of pitcher abuse, who keeps a running tally. The manager who has racked up the most PAPs at the end of the regular season is showered by his fellow skips with booze and hookers at the Winter Meetings.
Guys, Grady wants back in.
In 2003, Dusty's boys led the bigs with 26 starts of more than 120 pitches, and Dusty is a shoo-in once again to be lavished with wine, women and song. Carlos Zambrano threw 136 pitches the other night. One-hundred-thirty-six! Kerry Wood and Mark Prior have been panting from overwork like a couple of Yukon sled dogs. And since LaTroy Hawkins is tipping his pitches like a blotto dealer at some Presbyterian poker night, the Cubs 5 are sure to put in more man-hours this year than a Shanghai sneaker factory.
Grady says the hell with that. Share the wealth, Dusty.
Some might call Grady an opportunist for wanting to push Dusty out of town, riding herd with Mariotti and the rest of the boys, in order to step up and take Dusty's place. But that's fine with Grady. All Grady had to work with in Boston was that frail little phantom Pedro and the Derek Lowe Face. Babies. Grady has been out in the wilderness for too long now. Don't worry Dusty. Grady'll share some of the spoils come the long, dark winter.