By now you've probably heard the rumor that Chicago's Jeff Baker missed time because he burned his backside trying to light a fart in the clubhouse. We thought this was worth some investigation.
The rumor started, as all good ones do, as a comment on a Cubs blog.
By the way, there is a reason Baker has not been starting until today. I know someone in the Cubs organization, who informed me last week that Baker and two pitchers, one of them a starter, were lighting farts in the clubhouse, when something went awry, and Baker suffered second degree burns to his patoot. Even worse, a pitcher got a slight burn on his throwing hand. The hair on Bakers behind got singed, so he is now hairless there. In tonights game, he was lifted for a pinch hitter, something Lou never does. The reason-–the blisters on his bottom burst, causing so much water, that Theriot accused him of wetting his pants. He never came out of the clubhouse, so Lou was forced to put in Fontenot.
"I know someone in the organization." Sounds like a watertight, case, right?
Well, there's a much more plausible reason Baker was held out of the lineup for more than a week: he's in a platoon. And since April 26, when he started against Nationals lefty John Lannan, here's a list of opposing pitchers the Cubs have faced:
Livan Hernandez, Luis Atilano, Ian Kennedy, Rodrigo Lopez, Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, and Paul Maholm. All righties, except for the southpaw Maholm; who Baker was in the starting lineup to face on Tuesday.
And as for being pinch hit for, that's because Maholm was out of the game, and righty closer Octavio Dotel was on in a one-run game. It sounds exactly like what a manager would do with a player who's hitting .310 against lefties, and an anemic .059 against righties on the season, like Baker is.
But what about Baker's alleged accomplices, the two pitchers? If one burned his pitching hand, it certainly doesn't show in the box scores. Every reliever got into a game in the series immediately following Baker's last start, and no starters missed their turn through the rotation.
So it seems unlikely that, even if said farts-on-fire did occur, either Baker or the unnamed pitchers were injured. But just to make sure, we pulled out all the stops in the I-Team's investigative arsenal, and called the Cubs. A nice fellow who answered the phone in director of media relations Peter Chase's office laughed at us when we asked if there was any truth to the story, and promised to call us back if he heard anything. He won't call back.