The nice thing about being an out-of-town columnist calling for Dusty Baker’s firing is that the Cubs might not be able to yell at you as easily as they might chew out Phil Rogers. From the Arizona Republic’s Joseph A. Reeves.

Dusty needs to go because one of the more beloved franchises in all of sports is in shambles on and off the field. While it’s not all his fault, the house cleaning has to start somewhere.

The brawl at U.S. Cellular Field and Greg Maddux bashing the bejesus out of a water cooler in Florida are just two signs of the Cubs coming unglued.

There’s also the stuff behind the scenes.

Like earlier this month when the front office summoned the sports editor and Cubs writer from the Chicago Tribune and berated them for their coverage.

Tribune Co. owns the paper and the team. Toss in conflict of interest to the list of troubles.

Baker isn’t to blame for all the chaos in and around the Cubs this year. But his hiring four years ago was a sign.

Ever stop to think why the San Francisco Giants let go a manager who just took them to the World Series?

It wasn’t because the Cubs offered more money. It was because Dusty’s act had worn thin. The way he let his starters throw 120 pitches time and again. The way he balked every time the front office wanted to make a move to make the team better.

Baker has a reputation as a “player’s manager.” It’s well deserved. Almost every time the Giants told Dusty they planned to send a player down, he would argue: “You can’t. He’s my guy. I need him.”

Didn’t matter what Dusty’s guy was hitting. Or how he wasn’t pitching. Every guy was Dusty’s guy. Trouble is, the major leagues allow only 25 guys on a roster at a time.

The Cubs will send Jae Kuk Ryu to the mound in a few minutes to face the Braves and John Smoltz. Fox’s Joe Buck argued during yesterday’s telecast that when Jim Hendry failed to bring in a serious hitter to replace Derrek Lee, that sent a message to the rest of the club that the Cubs weren’t serious about winning. I guess Joe didn’t think much of the acquisition of Tony Womack.

Lt. Dangle left the Dodgers’ win over the Nationals yesterday with a sprained left wrist. You’d be surprised how many guys who are right-handed for most things choose to beat off as a lefty. This afternoon at RFK, the Nats are running riot over Jae Seo, as Ryan Zimmerman and Affonso Soriano have each homered, the latter connecting for his 18th on the season. So much for my thinking that Soriano’s power numbers would suffer in DC.

Despite having allowed a 2nd inning 3-run HR to Jeremy Hermida, El Duque has a shot at winning his Mets debut, as Florida trails NY, 7-3 in the bottom of the 4th. Carlos Beltran hit a 2 run HR off Ricky Nolasco a few minutes ago, his 14th of the year.