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October 15, 2003

Dusty Baker


Q. Dusty, your club accomplished a lot this year, probably more than most people thought. What are your emotions tonight? Is it painful to lose after going up 3-1 in this series, or do you look back on the accomplishments?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, it's always painful to lose, especially at this point. But you've got to also be proud of our guys and the accomplishments this year, and how far we came to get to this point in a short period of time. So you've got to tip your hat to the Marlins. They played great baseball, and they took it by playing great baseball. Sometimes you've got to look back and say, hey, at the end, were they better than us? And they might have been better and more well-rounded this year. The thing about it is that our guys got a taste of what it's like in postseason, a lot of guys had never been there. We're young. We're going to make some improvements for next year. In my mind this is just the beginning of good things to come for us for many years.

Q. Were you disappointed in Wood's performance, and did you feel you might have left him in a little too long?

DUSTY BAKER: No, I wasn't disappointed in his performance and I don't think I left him in too long either. If I thought I left him in too long I would have taken him out. But he was still throwing the ball well. I mean it hurt, the two walks that started that inning. He was throwing the ball well. What hurt was the fact that they got three or four, two-out RBI hits. And we couldn't stop them from adding on at the end. If we could have stopped them from adding on at the end, I feel we would have caught them and passed them. But the way of the game you can't trade runs with them. You've got to give them credit. They hit us, and they played a great series. And I'm happy for Jack McKeon, sad for us. And I hope they represent the National League well in the World Series and now I'm pulling for them.

Q. You said more than once this season that you thought how it was meant to be and some destiny in it. Did you think when Woody hit the home run that this was continuing that plan?

DUSTY BAKER: Oh, yeah, definitely. When he hit the home run and we went up 5 to 3, I knew the next inning was going to be a tough inning. Like I say, our guys battled and fought, like I have nothing bad to say about our guys, because we came from a mighty long ways to get to this point. And our guys battled and fought and played hard all year long. Was it disappointing? Yes, it's disappointing, because we wanted to go to the World Series. Life is full of disappointments sometimes, and you have to build something for the future. And we felt that we established and built a heck of a foundation for next year, and the years to come.

Q. Your first playoff year with the Cubs, after living through it, is it a daily reminder that it's been 58 years since the World Series? Does that kind of wear on your team? Was it a burden, looking back on it in the end?

DUSTY BAKER: If it's a burden this year, it will be 59 next year, so I don't think that was a burden. Our guys played hard. They played real hard. And like I said, we were close and the Marlins took it from us. That's simple as that, by quality play. Our guys got a taste of it. And next year we'll go back to Spring Training, go to the

drawing board, give the guys a couple of weeks off. I'll call the guys and make sure they start working out and make sure we get ready for next year.

Q. The box score showed a roller coaster throughout the game. In the dugout there had to be an emotional roller coaster going on as well with you and your team?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, the whole series was an emotional roller coaster. It was a hard-fought series. Yeah, it probably won't sink in for a while. There's no way we thought we were going to lose that game. We thought we were going to win that game even down to the last out. So that gives us more to train for and fight for and think about this winter and come back in Spring Training ready to go even further.

Q. Is this any more or less disappointing than last year when you were with San Francisco?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I mean last year we had been knocking on the door quite a few times. That was more disappointing, because we were in the World Series and had action on winning it. I mean this year was probably equal or more gratifying than last year when we had been knocking on the door six or seven years. And we just started knocking on the door here, year number one.

Q. So many key moments in these last three games. In your opinion, what was the turning point in the series?

DUSTY BAKER: Probably the fact that Josh Beckett, when he shut us out over there on Sunday, 4-0. That was a key turning point. And there were quite a few of them. But I think that was the big one, right there.

Q. Up 3 games to 1, did you ever think they'd have a chance to beat Zambrano, Prior and Wood three games in a row?

DUSTY BAKER: I've been on teams that were up 2-0 in the World Series and lost 4 in a row. And I was on teams that were down 2-0, and we won 4 in a row. There's always a chance. I said coming home here, if they beat my two best, Wood and Prior, then they deserve to go. And that's what they did. They beat two of the best in the business. They beat my two best. And my two best in my mind will even be better next year because of this.

Q. Unfortunately the way the world is, people are going to say that the Cubs lost this pennant, instead of saying that the Marlins won it. What do you say to that?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't care what people say. Nobody expected us to be here in the first place. Nobody expected us to win the Central. Nobody expected us to beat the Braves. Nobody expected us to even be here. I really don't care what people say about us. We know how we feel about ourselves. We didn't lose the pennant. The Marlins won it. They won it and they won it fair and square. So that's all you can say. We are runners-up, and next year we hope to be better.

Q. How disappointed are you that you came so close to rewriting history, but instead became a part of it tonight?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I'm very disappointed, actually. You're always disappointed when you get that close. That's how life is sometimes. It doesn't always go your way. A lot of things went our way this year. It just didn't go our way in the final game.

Q. You mentioned young players getting their first taste of postseason. Is part of that learning experience learning how to put a team away?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, that's part of it. That's what the Yankees have been doing for years. And that's what you've got to do. We tried to put them away, but they wouldn't go away. And it wasn't through lack of effort that we weren't trying to put them away, it's just that they wouldn't get put away. And they refused to be put away. Like I said, they've got a good team, man. They've got a heck of a team. When I talked to some of the Giants, the first thing they told me was don't underestimate them. They've got a heck of a team over there. We weren't underestimating them at all. I'm sure they weren't underestimating us. It was a hell of a fight, hell of a battle, and they won this one.

DARREN BAKER: Cubs will win next year.

End of FastScripts...

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