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October 13, 2003

Dusty Baker


Q. Dusty, when a team loses a pivotal game any part of the postseason, do managers feel a need to go to the team and gauge how they're responding?

DUSTY BAKER: No, that's what we've been fighting here all year long, every time you lose a game someone conjures up something negative that happened before. Why don't they conjure up nothing versus conjuring up something negative all the time? You can always find a negative stat or negative something. It's like here we are, and see if we can bring us some misfortune. I don't understand the whole mindset. I think we're in a pretty good position. If anybody had told anybody months ago we'd be up 3-2 in the NLCS with a chance to go to the World Series, I think everyone in the whole world would have been extremely happy and no one would have conjured up anything.

Q. Mark is going on an extra day's rest, he's been very good on extra days' rest. He's also thrown a lot of pitches in September. What do you expect tomorrow?

DUSTY BAKER: I expect Mark to be Mark. Sure, he's thrown a lot of pitches in September, and so has everyone else. But Mark missed three weeks, too, which I think helped him throw those number of pitches in September. Mark has been exceptionally good. The first thing that Larry Rothschild, I asked him about a 4th starter or 5th starter, and he told me there's one guy that benefits from an extra day's rest, and that's Mark Prior. When he gets an extra day's rest he seems to be sharper and stronger.

Q. So much negativity is being talked about, things that have nothing to do with this team. How do you keep from that getting to all clubs, so they don't feel the pressure of '84, which had nothing to do with them or past years?

DUSTY BAKER: I just tell them don't look at it, don't watch it, don't read it, don't believe it, because most of these guys in 1984 -- Kerry Wood in 1984, what was he, like, 8? You know what I'm saying? So it's like half this stuff doesn't even apply to them. They can't help the fact they were playing for the Cubs or Dodgers or A's or whoever they were playing for and they can't help what happened in the past. I mean, I was watching a game the other night and in between the innings a goat ran across the screen, I thought that was the craziest thing I've ever seen in my life. Or vote 1-800, which curse is stronger, the goat or the curse of Babe. It's crazy.

Q. The weather tomorrow is going to be vastly different than it has been the last week. Do you think that's going to be a factor?

DUSTY BAKER: How do you know?

Q. They say rain in the morning, cold at night.

DUSTY BAKER: Really? Hey, that don't bother us. I think last time we were here it was unseasonably warm, and the ball was carrying too much because of that. So we're kind of used to bad weather around here, actually. And the nicer the weather is the more comfortable it will be for them.

Q. I suppose for a lot of reasons you would rather have wrapped it up yesterday, but potentially wrapping it up here in front of the hometown fans tomorrow, does that jack you up more or does that jack the players up any more? What kind of influence does that have on the game, if at all?

DUSTY BAKER: You won't know until the players get here and the fans get here. Once the fans get here, you can't get jacked up until they get here. We wanted to come back home, that was our goal. Sure, we wanted to go down and sweep, but your chances of sweeping them down there are like slim. You've got weather, you've got 65,000 people. I don't know if they've been swept down there all year long. I know in 1997 we went down there, they swept us in the playoffs. And so for us to go down and win two out of three in their ballpark, that's a pretty good feat. I would rather have wrapped it up yesterday, but we have a chance to win it at home and Chicago will go crazy. We're sitting in a good position. It's not over by any means, anything can happen. But at this point I'd rather be up 3-2 than down 3-2.

Q. What are the players doing today and why did you think that they needed a complete day off? Did you buy that shirt in Florida?

DUSTY BAKER: Number one, I don't know what they're doing today. It's really not my business, because it's an off day. Your guys' off days, does your boss know what you're doing? (Laughter.) So it's really not my business. I tell them just don't get hurt whatever you're doing, no off-field injuries. Yeah, at this point I don't think Florida is working out either. We all think that our guys need the day off more than they need the practice. And all these practices that we've had so far have really been because they're mandatory, and they're press oriented, to tell you the truth. I mean, that's how it is, mandatory workout, that's what it said in the paper. And secondly, no, I bought this shirt from Cutter and Buck up in Seattle, Washington, actually.

Q. You've seen hundreds, thousands of pitchers in your playing career. Who does Prior remind you of, not necessarily who was as good as he was, but just when you watch him visually, the stuff he throws, does he remind you of anybody in particular?

DUSTY BAKER: I never thought about it, really. No, I can't think of anybody. Maybe a more polished young Bob Welch, maybe.

Q. Dusty, would you be here now without that trade for the three Pirates, and what about their contribution?

DUSTY BAKER: No, we probably wouldn't be here now. It would be difficult for us to say we'd be here without them. That's why you make these trades. You make these trades to give you a boost, you make these trades to make you better. And those two guys have been outstanding. They've given us leadoff man speed, they came right on time, and when the trade was made Tom Goodwin went down, the timing couldn't have been more perfectly. Choi went down struggling, and Simon came in and Ramirez, we were searching all year for a third baseman. We've been searching for two decades for a third baseman. We feel we have one now and for the future, he's only 25 years old. Some of these trades were for now, and hopefully some of these guys will remain, and other trades, the other guys will definitely remain.

Q. This was your first year. Obviously you have a lot of new players, some that arrived in mid season. Jim Hendry has been here for a few years. How much does he have to do with reversing both the image of this franchise and the reality, the perception that this is a franchise that can't win?

DUSTY BAKER: Jim Hendry has a lot to do with the whole equation, and Andy (MacPhail), too, and I guess he stepped down from doing both, and took over as a GM. Jim Hendry wants to win, wants to win badly, he loves to win. He goes crazy not winning. So I don't know how he went last year. I know he won this year, and he's still kind of crazy. So it's nice to be around a guy like that. He reminds me a lot of Brian Sabean, he wants to win, he does his homework, he works fiercely. He never sleeps. I don't know when he sleeps, four or five hours a day, trying to make us better and trying to win. Jim Hendry has a lot to do with this, by the players he brought in, not only good players, but players with character and players that also want to and love to win.

Q. You're in the unusual position of being able to take a different team to the World Series for the second year in a row. What's different this October from last year?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. This year I'm not kind of walking a tight rope, like I was last year, either win or else. If you win, then you're still considered like a failure sort of, if you don't win the whole thing. So it's different. I know where I'm going to be next year. Actually this time last year I didn't know where I was going to be. And I'm a whole lot happier. I'm very grateful for last year. We couldn't be in this position if it wasn't for last year, because I might not have been as sought after as I was at the end of last year. They're all intertwined and combined between last year and this year. But I think that I'm where I'm supposed to be at this time.

Q. There is a notion that the home team here has all the pressure on them now, the Marlins seem to think, hey, we weren't supposed to be here anyway. What about Carl Pavano starting for them coming out --

DUSTY BAKER: Who came up with this notion with the home team has all the pressure on them? That's kind of opposite where I came from. Home is where the heart is, then there ain't no pressure at home. When I sit at my house at night, I don't feel no pressure. I feel more pressure when I'm at the hotel somewhere out of town. And as far as the Marlins feeling they weren't supposed to be here, well, they won more games than we did, so where were we supposed to be, during the season. So people can say what they want to say and downplay things, but we know they've got a very good team. They ain't going to fool us with that. And Carl Pavano, he's capable of throwing a very good game. That's their choice. That's their team and that's their choice.

Q. You haven't seen that much of Carl. Does that give him any advantage?

DUSTY BAKER: We've seen him enough. Dick Pole had him as a pitching coach in Montreal. We've seen him very good and we've seen him kind of shaky. But he's throwing harder. The only thing could be a question of how long they will stick with him. He's been in the pen for a while, so what's his endurance like? But we'll deal with him like we do the rest of them.

Q. How much time will you spend going over who you want to play tomorrow and will you go back as to who is hot and who's not? Will all that take a lot of your time tomorrow?

DUSTY BAKER: Probably not. I already know who I'm going to play today. I'm going to play my best team. And as far as who's playing and who's not, if you go by yesterday's team, there's only two guys that played. It was Mo and Alex. So I've just got to go with who you think is the best. This will help Grudzielanek a lot with the day off. Without him we wouldn't be where we are now. I thought about it yesterday, but with this day off here, I told everybody eat three square meals, and have a glass of wine, and get your rest, and do what you normally do and come back ready tomorrow.

Q. You seem awfully relaxed. How have you been able to keep yourself from being uptight about what you're facing? And also since you know where you're going to be next year, any chance you might be moving to Chicago?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, why wouldn't I be relaxed today? There's nothing to be uptight about. If I'm uptight now and I've got 24 hours before I come out here, I'll be like a lunatic in the morning. So when you're off, you've got to be off. And that way you get to recharge your energy level, recharge your cycle by being relaxed. And I've been here before. And that helps a lot. What was your second question?

Q. Since you know where you're going to be next year, any chance you'll move to Chicago?

DUSTY BAKER: No, I love Chicago in the summer (laughter). I was born and raised in California, and I've been there, so when the season is over, I'm going back home. I'm going to live two places: Chicago and California.

Q. You said you didn't know what your players were doing today on their off day. Did you know that Mark Prior was playing catch with Larry Rothschild here just before the interview?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah. Mark is supposed to come in here, too, isn't he? Mark always throws the day before. Did you know he always does it the day before his start? He always does, before he starts, he comes out and throws. So that's part of his routine. I wasn't being wise, just trying to have fun on an off day (laughter).

End of FastScripts...

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