Dusty Baker's Winter Meetings Press Conference Did Not Go Well
Dusty Baker said some pretty bad stuff today about race and domestic violence.
The Washington Nationals hired Dusty Baker to replace Matt Williams as manager and, today at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, he had one of his first press conferences since being hired. It's not great! Baker managed to crack a few jokes about domestic violence and also give the old "I'm not being racist, but..." gambit a few warmup tosses in the bullpen.
Last night, Yahoo! reported that Aroldis Chapman was involved in a domestic violence incident with his girlfriend. He was accused of choking her and firing a gun eight times in his garage. His girlfriend reportedly had to hide in the bushes. Baker was the manager of the Reds at the time Chapman entered Major League Baseball, so naturally reporters asked him about the ordeal.
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.
OK, that's fair, I suppose. He wasn't there. Moving on.
Q. Were you surprised by -- I don't know how much you read about the allegations.
DUSTY BAKER: I didn't read it.
Sure. No one wants to speak from a position of ignorance. Best to just let it go.
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.
...Seems like a non sequitur. Kind of an unnecessarily combative one, too?
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.
Q. Dusty, do you believe that it's a good thing that baseball now has a domestic policy?
DUSTY BAKER: Yes.
Q. Domestic violence policy?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah. I think it's a great thing. I mean, I got a buddy at home that's being abused by his wife. So I think this policy needs to go further than the player. I think the policy should go to whoever's involved. Sometimes abusers don't always have pants on.
Hoo-fucking-boy. Dusty rounded the bases from "I don't believe reports..." to "but my buddy's wife is a nag and not all abusers wear pants" in breakneck speed. The kind of speed you only find in, say, Latin or African American ballplayers.
What? Oh, right. Dusty said something like that, too.
Q. Dusty, you've talked to Mike and people in the front office, is there anything that you've specifically said that you think you'd like to have on a roster that you don't necessarily have at the moment?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah. You're always in need of left-handed pitching, left-handed hitting, and in need of speed. I think that's the number one thing that's missing, I think, in the game is speed. You know, with the need for minorities, you can help yourself —you've got a better chance of getting some speed with Latin and African-Americans. I'm not being racist. That's just how it is.
It can't be stressed enough that Dusty Baker was just hired, this was one of his first press conferences, and it ended with "I'm not being racist. That's just how it is."
UPDATE (8:53 P.M.) — The Nationals sent the following clarification from Baker's interview with MLB Network Radio: "There's no way that I would ever condone domestic violence. No way... We gotta stop it, big time. I'm hoping that (the Chapman I knew) is innocent."