Baker desires one more shot in dugout
Former Cubs manager interviewed with Nationals about opening
NEW YORK -- Dusty Baker is returning to Wrigley Field this week as a member of the TBS crew covering the National League Championship Series.
"We'll see how that feels," he said. "We'll see."
The former Cubs, Giants and Reds skipper made it clear on Sunday night at Citi Field prior to Game 2 between the Mets and Cubs that he's ready to manage again. In that pursuit, he said he had a 3 1/2-hour interview recently with the Nationals.
"It was extensive. I mean, they really didn't know me there," Baker said of his interview with the Nationals. "People think they know you through word of mouth, but it's somebody else's opinion. I mean, they don't really know you until you talk to somebody. Then, it's like, 'Wow, I didn't know you were like that.' So it was good."
Baker said that he reached out to Padres president Mike Dee through a mutual friend, who told him about his interest. The Padres dismissed Bud Black this season, replaced him with Triple-A manager Pat Murphy, and then decided after a disappointing 74-88 season to not bring Murphy back.
"I called them and they said, 'Thanks for the interest.' That was the extent of it," he said.
Baker managed the Cubs from 2003-06 after coming within six outs of winning the World Series with the 2002 Giants in Game 6. That team lost to the Angels in seven games.
Almost identically in 2003, the Cubs came within five outs of winning the NL pennant in Game 6 of the NLCS at Wrigley before Steve Bartman deflected a foul pop in the stands, leading to the Marlins scoring eight runs in the eighth inning. Florida also won that series in seven games.
"That pretty much prepares you for everything," Baker said of managing the Cubs. "Having been around, I'm 66 years old and I've been in baseball for 47, I'm pretty much prepared anyway. If I'm not prepared for life now, I'm not going to get prepared. This [Cubs] team has a tremendous amount of talent. You've got a horse like [Jake] Arrieta leading the way.
"You're not guaranteed, but you pretty much know you're going to be in one game. I had two pretty good horses, too, [in Mark Pryor and Kerry Wood]. It was pretty much the same situation."
Baker believes he can still manage. He posted a 90-72 record in his final season with the Reds in 2013, the year after he suffered a small stroke. Overall, he has a .526 winning percentage in 20 years of managing. The only thing he hasn't done is manage a team to a World Series title, although he played on the 1981 Dodgers, who defeated the Yankees to win that title.
He thinks he still has plenty to give some organization.
"I'd like to be back in the right situation before it gets too late," he said. "A lot of people think it's too late already, but I'm the coolest old dude there is. I don't think I really compare to too many people. [Age] doesn't matter. How old was Casey Stengel? I'm younger than Tony La Russa. I'm younger than all of those dudes [Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Jim Leyland] when they left. Plus, I've got a 16-year-old that keeps me hip about how to deal with everybody.
"Age is all relative. There are some young dudes that act older than old men. I think I transcend almost all generations."
The two years off, he said, have been essential to his health.
"I'm feeling great," he said. "The worst year wasn't last year. I felt fine. The worst year was the year after my stroke. I got a warning, man. I ain't going nowhere. How many people have a mini-stroke when they're in the hospital and survived prostate cancer? I ain't going anywhere. It's all good. The Lord don't want me yet."