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October 26, 2021

Dusty Baker

Houston, Texas, USA

Minute Maid Park

Houston Astros

Pregame 1 Press Conference

Q. Dusty, what went into the decision to carry Marwin after not carrying him the first two rounds?

DUSTY BAKER: The decision was Meyers is not healthy to play, so we had to carry the decision because Marwin is a switch hitter. He gives me a lot of flexibility in positions, and he has World Series experience, so you know he's not going to be like in awe of the game or the situation.

Q. With Urquidy going in Game 2, looks like Garcia goes in Game 3. Would that be correct?


Q. Do you know Game 4, would it be Greinke at this point?

DUSTY BAKER: We're not sure. We don't know who we're going to have to use to get these first three games. Right now it's those first three pitchers that we named.

Q. Was that rotation order to get Garcia a couple extra days of rest but also have Urquidy be able to pitch here with the outfield situation?

DUSTY BAKER: No, not really. Well, partially correct, to give Garcia that extra day's rest and not to have Urquidy be too long in between starts. Because he had like almost two weeks at one time and then ten days. You like to get them -- I was told a long time ago that the pitchers rust out before they wear out.

So it was twofold. Just give one rest and one to give work.

Q. What will you need to see from Urquidy in this next start for him to be successful?

DUSTY BAKER: Just quality that we know that he can bring. He was close to getting out of that with one run in Boston. Who knows how long he would have pitched after that?

We've got full confidence in Urquidy because this guy is a pretty cool customer as a pitcher. He's not new. He's been in this before. Just need to see quality.

Q. How perfect would this milestone be if you guys win the series here for an amazing career that you've had? And what kind of reflecting or looking back on times in your career have you done today, lately, advice, stuff like that, heading into now that it is the day?

DUSTY BAKER: I try to live for today pretty much. I don't do much reflecting because, when you do reflecting, you wait till the end to reflect, and this ain't the end for me. So hopefully, we win this series, and then I start thinking about the next one.

You know, you take some time to enjoy it, definitely, but you just think about the joy and the goodness and the perseverance that you were taught. When you reach a goal, it makes it easier for you to enjoy it and look forward to the next goal.

Q. Dusty, first of all, congratulations on getting back to the World Series.

DUSTY BAKER: Thank you, man.

Q. And on your Hall of Fame managerial career, which I think is a slam dunk at this point. How have you changed and developed as a manager since the last time you were in the World Series?

DUSTY BAKER: I'm 20 years older, that's for sure. I don't think I've changed that much really. I think the circumstances have changed more than I've changed. The use of pitchers and the short hook and the more importance of the bullpen now than it was 20 years ago, because I was blasted for taking Russ Ortiz out 20 years ago, but nowadays I'd have been blasted for not taking him out.

So the times have changed and how people expect the manager to manage this time.

Q. Just wondering what today was like for you? Did it feel any different? Or you just handled this exactly the same because it is one more game?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah. It is one more game, but my phone rang and I got a bunch of texts that I tried to keep up with, but tried not to let other people take your energy that you're going to have to use during the game.

I don't know, you try to keep it as normal as possible. I didn't have time to go by and get food like I usually do, but the first day is always like that because you've got a whole bunch of stuff to do. You've got a whole bunch of paperwork to do.

You wait on their lineup, and they've added a couple guys that we didn't count on them adding. They changed their lineup. We can't count on them.

So you have to try to figure out a way to combat what they're trying to do to you without changing too much what you're trying to do.

Q. You mentioned Garcia will start Game 3. I was curious, when you first saw his windup, how did it compare to some -- you've been around baseball for a while, just some of the things and quirks you found interesting over the years?

DUSTY BAKER: That's a good question. I've never seen a windup like that. That's a basketball move windup. You know when you rock the baby and then you go right or left, and that was slow motion what I just gave you right there (laughter).

Q. I wanted to ask you what you're thinking about a couple hours before this World Series. It's been 20 years for you, but also I know you changed your wristbands. Which one did you decide to go with today?

DUSTY BAKER: No, I didn't change them. These are the ones I had from the other day. When I win, I use the same ones. When I lose, I give them to some kids. I don't know. I mean, today's pretty complicated because you've got to do ESPN, you've got to do Fox and TNT and you guys. I'm really anxious to get back to work.

This is sort of necessary for you guys, and it's part of my job. Preferably I'd rather not do pre and post. I'd rather just come out, put on the uniform, and go play, but it's part of the job.

Q. One, can you tell us what you were listening to today on your playlist? Also, how much did what your pitchers went through so far in postseason help get them ready for what they could face now?

DUSTY BAKER: That's a good question. Number one, on my playlist, I was listening to James Cotton and Muddy Waters because James Cotton used to play with Muddy Waters. I saw James Cotton, I don't know, 30-something years ago, and I saw him 15 years ago or 20 years ago when he was no longer physically able to stand up and play.

Yeah, every experience helps you for the next one, whether it was a positive experience or a negative experience. It helps you if you allow it to help you, if you try to grow from it versus punishing yourself or coming down on yourself.

That's how life is. You have to learn from every experience, positive or negative, and you've got to thank God for the good sometimes as well as the bad.

Q. So getting back to your evolution as a manager, it just seems that in this day and age many managers, like L.A., San Diego, San Francisco, Yankees, managers are middle managers stuck between players, media, and upper management telling them what to do in baseball operations. Have you adjusted to that, and what's your system here? How much of that do you have to deal with?

DUSTY BAKER: Everybody has to deal with it. I try to combine the two, and the key to any job is to co-exist in a workplace. There's a give and a take. It's just a matter of how much you're willing to give or how much you're willing to take.

Every man has an inner and outer dignity, which you will take to keep the job and sometimes what you won't take. At some point in time, you've got to say, hey, you can keep it.

Here I have a young general manager that came from Tampa Bay that was used to more -- I think we've combined the sabermetrics as well as the old school, which I don't really believe in old school, new school. I believe in the right school. There's something from having a young son and a little older daughter, I didn't have her till I was 30, they can learn from us, and I think there's certain things that we can learn from the youth.

My son even reminds me sometimes, Dad, don't make your decision on -- because it's against them or against what -- and it's not an "us" or "them" type situation. You have to like think about it, weigh it out, say, hmm.

And then sometimes you're home and you say that's a pretty good idea, and other times you say it's not a very good idea. Then you hope that whatever that you do that's contrary to what you've been told, if it works, it's cool, and if it don't work on both sides.

The only thing is on the old school side, if it doesn't work, you're kind of blasted for it. And on the new school side, if it doesn't work, then it was either unlucky or the numbers didn't work this time. But 9 out of 10 times it will work.

Well, this is the one time it didn't work. And no matter what school or side you're on, nothing works all the time. There are no absolutes in sports, not as long as you're playing against somebody on the other side that can mess up your game plan.

Q. Thinking about all the times and years as manager, which skill as manager came easiest to you, and which was the most difficult for you to acquire?

DUSTY BAKER: That's a good point. Can I take a couple seconds?

Probably being the oldest of five and captain on most teams, and being in the Marines, I was the leader of my platoon, probably the easiest was giving orders because I give orders better than I take them. And the hardest was probably taking orders, especially if I knew, or at least thought it wasn't right, what I was told.

Q. Congratulations. You did it again.

DUSTY BAKER: Thank you, man. Don't be throwing me no sliders, okay?

Q. You have ties to Atlanta. You've always been so complimentary of Hank Aaron. We've lost him. What's something you've learned from him, one of your mentors, that you'll be carrying out to the field today?

DUSTY BAKER: Probably honor and dignity and giving what you can and being unselfish. And Hank was internally very confident, but externally very humble. I mean, him, Sandy Koufax are probably two of the guys that I never, ever heard -- I mean, you wouldn't know they ever played baseball. As great as they were, I never heard him brag, you know.

If I was Hank Aaron, I'd have told you 15 times (laughter). So that's probably -- and the fact that I think Hank gets a bad rap of being angry or being this or that. He had reason to be, but Hank was as good to Latin guys as he was to white guys as he was to black guys. Hank, he was like a father to a lot of people.

Q. Defense has been excellent this postseason. It's played a big role for both teams. How important would it be to maintain that level of defense in this series?

DUSTY BAKER: Oh, yeah, I love defense because you don't win on defense but you can lose on defense. And defense is work. I mean, these guys on this team, they work on defense every day. Like I said before, you go to a Little League park after everybody hits, the kid's ready to go home. How many kids enjoy catching the ball? Hitting's fun.

And anybody can get better on defense if you're willing to put the work in. Like you can get a little bit better hitting, I believe, but you can get a whole lot better on defense.

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