Dusty Baker was the Cubs’ manager once upon a time and almost got them to the World Series in 2003 (stupid Marlins), one year after almost winning it all in San Francisco in 2002 (boy was that annoying, stupid Angels). A lot of fans are still reasonably upset with him for certain decisions that may have not only doomed the Cubs’ championship hopes, but also the careers of some phenomenal pitchers, including Mark Prior. Whether or not one believes that Dusty was ultimately responsible for the copious amounts of bad luck suffered by the Cubs and by players like Prior, usually Cubs fans take whatever Dusty says with a bit of skepticism, to say the least.
When Dusty was interviewed the other day, he told the Tribune that he was glad that Wrigley was finally getting a long-overdue renovation…pending some remaining political squabbling, that is. Dusty also wished that the Trib had ponied up the cash and the political muscle to do it while he was still in charge. Here’s what Dusty said:
“It’s like an older home that has a one-car garage and a half-bath,” Baker said. “You need more room. They need a weight room. They talked about it when I was there. But it was something about some property that was owned by the railroad.
“I know everybody was excited about that, because if a guy gets hurt, they have to go to Northwestern. You can’t do it on the premises. Or if you need a cold plunge, or whatever you need. These things add up to not keeping your players on the field.
“And early in the year you have to be aware of that. (The Cubs) are lucky there weren’t any pulled muscles or strained shoulders. … (Baseball) is not designed to be cold and wet and windy.”
Now I have absolutely no idea what railroad he’s talking about, and I would contend that with proper preparation and facilities, the cold weather issues can be taken care of (though the White Sox did cancel a game earlier last week due to “extreme cold” despite no rain or snow, so maybe there’s something to that). But I don’t think you can argue with the rest.
The players need room to spread out so they can do pre-game stretching while getting in their uniforms, they need medical facilities in the event of a muscle pull or other injury, and if there’s no room to put a weight room in the stadium, then the players are going to have to use someone else’s gym off-premises to tone and increase strength. Northwestern isn’t that close to Wrigleyville either. There’s certainly no room for a large machine to take MRIs of strained muscles, and there’s also no room for X-ray machines, as Dusty and Michael Morse will both tell you. So instead of receiving immediate diagnosis and treatment, players and personnel have to spend who knows how long in Chicago traffic to get out of Wrigleyville and on to Northwestern, and that’s additional time that could potentially worsen an injury.
While he’s probably not that good at handling pitchers or game situations, Dusty Baker does have a point. And like Dusty, I’m glad that something is going to get done. It just should’ve been done a long time ago, whether they had to fix up the old place or blow it up and build anew. Here’s hoping the fix-it-up project goes well so we don’t have to deal with these issues anymore.