John Baker Speaks: Spring Training, Clubhouse Leadership, Cubs Fans, More

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John Baker Speaks: Spring Training, Clubhouse Leadership, Cubs Fans, More

Chicago Cubs

john baker cubsTwo years ago, John Baker became a Chicago Cubs fan favorite as the guitar-slinging, song-singing, fist-pumping back-up catcher. Every season, it seems, there’s a new cult favorite player, but Baker was among the best. After his playing days ended, ahead of 2015, he began doing some writing and interviews around the web – including here on Bleacher Nation. For us, he provided fascinating insight on retaliation and protection in MLB, but has since written, interviewed and Periscoped about many different topics and ideas, alike.

Recently, he’s been hired by the Cubs as a Baseball Operations Assistant, a role that many of us hope comes with a lot of visibility. Already, we’ve seen Baker continue his presence around baseball and, today, we’re graced with three such pieces.

First, at MLB Trade Rumors, Baker gets us excited for Spring Training Eve. “Report Day,” Baker contends, “is like Christmas in February.” The players are excited for new gear, neatly aligned in the lockers, but are anxious for the uncertainty of tomorrow. With less than 80% of the roster sure of their immediate future, young players are concerned about where they’ll be, while veterans are looking over their shoulder at the talented influx of youth. If you’re looking to get excited about baseball AND take in a particularly unique perspective, the former player, turned writer, turned front office member in John Baker has you covered.

Then, at Baseball Prospectus, Rian Watt sat down with Baker to discuss the value of clubhouse leadership. We’ve heard it mentioned time and again, but, as Watt writes, it’s hard for those of us outside of the game to truly understand the value of leadership. More specifically, Watt wants to understand how and to what extent leadership in the clubhouse translates to value on the field. One way leaders add actual value, Baker explains, is the way they lessen the pressure of their teammates. Underperforming and slumping is a part of the game, but when it’s broadcast to a giant video board next to a picture of your face, it can be quite … distracting. Good clubhouse leaders lessen the intensity of the pressure, and help to reassure players of their value. There is plenty more in Watt’s article, including much more from Baker, so give it a read.

Lastly, Brian Marchiano talks with John Baker about his departure from baseball, his new role with the Cubs, and much more, here on Sound Cloud. Among his many thoughts, he discusses the resilience of Cubs fans and the unique bond that has formed between them after years without a championship. Later, Baker dives into the 2014 season and how it became a turning point for the current Cubs, a gateway year leading to their successful 2015 campaign. He pointed – not unreasonably – to the marathon John Baker Game against the Rockies as the turning point. Given how things started picking up steam in August 2014 and thereafter, I think he’s right.

So take some time, today, and jump back into baseball with John Baker. He is an extremely bright baseball mind and still has many years of baseball ahead of him.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami