Last month, Dusty Baker was hired as manager of the Washington Nationals, a promising ball club in the majors. Today, Baker spoke in front of the media at the annual Winter Meetings. These exercises generally proceed without controversy—usually, the manager regurgitates a few clichés, smiles a bunch, and then everyone goes on with their day. That's not how it went for Mr. Baker.
A reporter asked Baker about his former player, Aroldis Chapman, who is accused of choking his girlfriend in late October. There are many things Baker could have said or not said, but instead of saying something boring or—God forbid—sensible, Baker decided to say something pretty dumb. Here's a partial transcript:
Q. Dusty, you had Aroldis Chapman when he broke into the majors. What was that process like? Were you surprised by the report?
DUSTY BAKER: I don't believe reports. Who knows why? I'm not one to judge on how the whole thing happened.
Q. What do you know about the guy?
DUSTY BAKER: Oh, he's a heck of a guy. I mean, a heck of a guy. I'll go on record and say I wouldn't mind having Chapman. No, no, he is a tremendous young man with a great family, mom and dad, and what he went through to get here and what his family had to go through to get here. I was with him through the whole process.
There was a couple times when I had to stop him from quitting or going back to Cuba because he was lonely for his family. So I went through a lot of stuff with Chapman. I got nothing but love for the young man.
Q. Were you surprised by — I don't know how much you read about the allegations.
DUSTY BAKER: I didn't read it.
Q. Are you surprised that this popped up?
DUSTY BAKER: I don't read most of the stuff you guys write. No, I don't.
Q. I believe you. I didn't know if you heard anything.
DUSTY BAKER: I heard it from my son. I mean, who's to say the allegations are true, number one. And who's to say what you would have done or what caused the problem.
"He's a heck of a guy" and "who's to say the allegations are true" are probably opinions to keep to oneself when asked in a public forum about a player's potential domestic abuse case.
For some reason, Baker went on:
My advice to Dusty is that next time, he probably should not go on.
Baker clarified his comments:
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.