The internet has gotten a lot of mileage out of Dusty's infamous quip that big, slow sluggers who take walks just "clog up the bases." Couple that with the largely misguided conception that he ruins young pitchers and you got yerself a good ol' fashioned caricature right there. Most of the baseballing public out there sees our manager as a toddling old geezer, chewing on toothpicks and playing a brand of baseball that was last popular during the Nixon administration. They all point and laugh. It's kind of embarrassing.
I know I had many of the same false impressions of him when he came to town, but I like to think I've gotten to know Dusty pretty well over these last few years. Much to the chagrin of the rest of the National League, our talented young pitchers are still slicin' up eyeballs and our best hitter has led the league in on-base percentage for three-straight seasons. I have to give the old fella a ton of credit. I'm about as cynical as they come, but he has changed my mind.
And then he goes and says something like, "On-base percentage is good, but RBIs are better." The internet is already making t-shirts. I don't need to link to anything to prove it. I mean, I know they are already making t-shirts. I know it. I just know it. The internet was initially created to share information about chess matches or something among research universities. Now it's mostly just laughing at dumb things.
And yeah, I'll admit this is a pretty dumb thing. I get like 46 miles to the gallon of dumb things right here on this blog (let me check with Rob Butcher to confirm that, though ... Yeah, we're still just a blog), so I like to think I know a dumb thing when I see it. So this is a pretty dumb thing. But is it really t-shirt dumb? I don't think it's t-shirt dumb.
Listen: This is Dusty talking his language. I think the internet likes to take these things as grand ontological statements, and then take those grand ontological statements and put them on t-shirts (the internet is basically just a false flag operation set up by Hanes and Russell Athletic and all of those guys to get us to buy more t-shirts you heard it here first). But Dusty is not discussing normative values of statistical measurements here. He's just talking to reporters after a good win for his baseball team. He just wants to get in the shower.
We internet baseball nerds of the 21st century speak a language that probably sounds to Dusty more like Klingon or Elvish than like baseball. You see, to him, "RBIs" just means plating some runs with a solid base knock. "On-base percentage" probably means something like being passive and letting the pitcher dictate the at-bat instead of going after him and being aggressive. Or something. I don't know what it sounds like to him. I'm just assuming.
So yeah, maybe he has a more simplistic and outdated way of looking at the game. He's kinda like "see the ball, hit the ball" where we of the internet chatterati or more like pitch harmonization and plate tectonics. So what? I think when he says something like this, it conjures fears in the progressive among us that he is going to impress his strategies on the players. I mean, after all, he's the manager. That's his job, right? But come on. Dusty is pretty much the only manager Joey Votto has ever known at the big-league level. I think he's doing okay. Same goes for the likes of Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and so on.
I trust Dusty to handle these guys because I think what makes Dusty a good manager is that he knows his players really well. He doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who would walk into the cage while Joey is doing his thing and start telling him what's what. He may prefer that Joey has 120 RBIs at the end of the season instead of 120 walks, but he's a cool dude. He's not going to complain either way. He'll just put on the Van Morrison and slim slow slide away.
So okay. Maybe what Dusty said was worthy of an eye-roll. But shit, man. He's led this team to two division titles in three years. He can say whatever the hell he wants. So let them make their t-shirts. It's going to be kind of embarrassing for them when Dusty points to the scoreboard and laughs.