Sometimes as a sports reporter you ask a subject a question that produces an unexpectedly detailed response, one that trails off in unintended directions that make it clear that person simply had something they wanted to get off their chest. There are a lot of athletes and coaches that do this, and Nationals manager Dusty Baker certainly falls into that category.
On Saturday he was asked about the fact Danny Espinosa was in the Nationals' starting lineup against the Twins despite getting hit by pitches in the same exact spot on the back of his right arm on consecutive days. It's his throwing arm and baseballs are not soft. Though he didn't show any signs of pain either time, you can bet his arm is a little sore right now.
Baker decided to share his thoughts on HBPs in general and how there may be a generational divide in what parts of today's game are viewed as tough, compared to how things used to be. Nowadays players wear more padding on their elbows, wrists and ankles, what some refer to as 'armor.'
And, as Dusty tells it, the perception now is just different.
"I got a different attitude about that. Number one, you get paid to be tough. You get paid to play ball. And number two, you better start trying to get out of the way. That's my attitude. The new dudes, they think that they're a turtle, that they can just duck into a shell. But you don't have a shell. You need to get out of the way. You need to hit the ground. Guys now are like diving toward the outside part of the plate. Back in our day we hit the ground. Or you ducked. You did whatever you could to not get hit. Now they just go like that [demonstrates arm lowering into strike zone]. You need to try to get out of the way. You're not getting much sympathy from me unless you're getting hit in the head or something. Learn to get out of the way. I appreciate the toughness and all of that, but that really doesn't impress me too much," Baker said.
Baker was then asked about players crowding the plate specifically against pitchers that try to establish a pitch by throwing inside.
"That's what you call a fool. That's what they get," Baker said of the players who put themselves in harm's way.
Tell us what you really think, Dusty. Also, speaking of Baker quotes, he had a pretty good one when asked about the strong start to this season from 22-year-old pitcher Joe Ross (2-0, 0.54).
"I don't understand how San Diego gave him to us, but I appreciate it," he said.