Q. I wondered if it's strange starting the playoffs here in San Francisco in your hometown. It's been a long time since you managed the Giants. What do you think of starting here and how comfortable are you?
DUSTY BAKER: I really don't have much choice, plus, you know, I feel comfortable here. I think my team likes coming here. This is a good town. There is a lot of excitement going on around here, and even though I haven't managed here in a while, I still have a home here and I live here and I still live in both Sacramento.
My son was extremely happy to start the playoffs here and I get to see my family, and we've got a tough foe on the other side, we realize that. But if you're going to get to the championship you can't bypass anybody. You have to play whoever is in line.
Q. Dusty, does 10 years feel like a long time ago? You have had a couple of stops elsewhere and they have won a World Series, or does that sting at you sometimes?
DUSTY BAKER: Sometimes it stings at me, but you've got to leave it in the past. You can't live in the future and stay in the past.
But I'm still here. I have an opportunity to win a championship here, and it let's you know exactly that time never stops. Time goes very quickly. Doesn't seem like 10 years ago, doesn't seem like 10 years ago my boy was 3 years old, being pulled off the mound. It let us me know that I'm gettin' older.
Q. You mentioned your energy level. How are you feeling right now?
DUSTY BAKER: I'm feeling great, you know, but you have to -- I have to watch my energy level, so I make sure that I'm right for the game and the whole game. It's only been two weeks since I was out of the hospital, so you have to watch yourself, and my wife won't let me talk on the phone too much. My daughter won't let me talk on the phone too much, or my son, just to make sure my energy level is up. This is my job. This is what I do. Contrary to what a lot of people think, this is my sometimes job, my all the time job is out there.
Q. Johnny had a stretch where he was three starts in early September, not himself, and then he got things back together. Where does he stand and how is he throwing the ball right now as we enter the playoffs?
DUSTY BAKER: That's a good question. He's throwing the ball great. There is not a pitcher in the world that doesn't have a bad stretch, you know? If so, then everybody would win 20 games, but everybody was panicking because he had a bad stretch of games there where I think there was only, what, two 20 game winners, and Johnny was 19. Guys like Verlander, this guy was in the American league and he was 20 games last year, and Johnny is doing fine.
We feel confident with Johnny on the mound, and it got to the point where it spoiled us, where everybody was asking, "What's wrong with Johnny?" Sometimes you go through a bad streak and sometimes the guys on the other side of the field over there are getting paid to do exactly what they did to him. So he's fine.
Q. Dusty, I read that Tash has you on quite the diet and you look lean and mean. Did you go out for a nice dinner?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, I went out for a nice dinner. I was without Tash.
Q. What did you splurge on?
DUSTY BAKER: I was with a couple of home boys that I grew up with. I love my daughter, but she had me on couscous and fixed me pastas and made me eat oatmeal every morning and what else, turkey burgers, turkey bacon, and that kind of stuff. So she wants her dad to live a long time, and I do, too.
Q. Back to Dusty Baker for a second. Over the last couple of years, what has been the factor of him elevating into a National League Ace?
DUSTY BAKER: Good question. I think his work ethic has changed. Johnny is a runner now. He wasn't always a runner, and we stressed to him that in my time most of the great pitchers that I've seen were runners.
At the same time, Johnny has learned how to command the strike zone. He's learned how not to have to strike out everybody. That doesn't necessarily make you a good pitcher. And, you know, I mean he's a good bunter. He has really worked on his game. He's changed his style some. You see him doing the Luis Tiant where he came up with that, I don't know, as long as it works.
Q. Dusty, you're a good hitting team and you hit the Giants well in your series. Was there anything particular you liked about your approach or anything you're underlining for them going into the series?
DUSTY BAKER: I wish it would have returned back to us last month. We haven't hit anything really this last month. They're a good pitching team and they have a little bit of a different lineup than when he we saw them earlier. Pence wasn't here last time we were here. Panda was just coming back, I think.
So I mean the main thing is you've got to make contact, keep the ball out of the ballpark, to answer your question. This is a tough park to hit in, tough park when you are dependent upon the home run, which we are in our park. It's a tough park to have to try to get four or five hits in a row in this park. So our guys are figuring it out, watching film, doing whatever we can do to win the game.
Q. You have to be the one opposing manager that 44,000 are probably going to cheer tomorrow.
DUSTY BAKER: Some of 'em! (Laughing).
Q. If you can explain to us the relationship, the dynamic between you and the Giants crowd which has been behind you since you left.
DUSTY BAKER: This is my home, people know that I'm from here and my wife is from here. Like I said, I still live here, part time. I don't know, I just like the people here. I like the attitude. I like people doing their own thing, but basically not hurtin' anybody, and it's just kinda my crowd of people. I grew up with half of the people around here and my relatives are from around here. We'll see if they still love me on Sunday. I hope we start out 2-0, we'll see.
Q. You have always been pretty high energy as a manager. You said you don't have the same energy now.
DUSTY BAKER: Huh uh, I said I'm saving it, and there is a difference between saving it and not having it.
Q. So once the game starts you're the same Dusty baker.
DUSTY BAKER: Most definitely so, that's why I'm telling you I'm saving it.
Q. Contractually you are not signed through next year, which has happened multiple times here when you managed here and you never seemed concerned about it. In this case do you plan to manage next year?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, I plan to ...
Q. Somewhere else or -- regardless ...
DUSTY BAKER: I plan to manage. Like you said, you answered the question, I've been through this many times, so I've learned not to worry about something that's really out of your control right now. The only thing that's in my control is to win ballgames and God is always taking care of me. I know people don't want to hear that, but God has always taken care of me so why wouldn't he take care of me now? This is about the 10th time I've been through this, or whatever it is.
I'm not worried and God willing I'm going to manage some more because I think I'm getting better and I'm still enjoy it go, and as long as I'm enjoy it go and as long as my family doesn't object I will be somewhere.
Q. Are the butterflies still as strong?
DUSTY BAKER: What's up, Kevin?
Q. Hey. Butterflies still as strong?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, let's say I woke up at 6:00 this morning and I didn't want to be up, so that's the butterflies that are still there. As long as I still got those, I mean, this is as exciting of a job as a person could have. There is nothing better than me trying to figure out how to kick your butt and you trying to figure out how to kick mine. I'm sure I will have them in the stadium tomorrow, too.
Q. Dusty back to your hitters, since Votto has come back, he's getting on base a lot, no home runs yet, what are you seeing from Joey?
DUSTY BAKER: He's trying to get his stroke. You don't know, Joey might be setting you guys up.
Q. How is your club different than 2010 and do they benefit from that experience of having been on this stage before?
DUSTY BAKER: Our club was a young club then, very young club then. These guys are much more mature now. We have a couple of leaders that have never been there -- you know, that have been there before. When you have Scott Rolen and you have Miguel Cairo and Bronson Arroyo and Hanigan, Navarro that's been there before on the Tampa Ray Devil Rays. We've been here before.
They celebrated, but not excessively like they did in 2010. And I was telling the guys, this is a step 1 of a three step process and I expect you to be happy but not over exuberant because we have a ways to go.
Q. What did you eat last night?
DUSTY BAKER: I ate some soup. What do you call that? Some kinda like tomato soup. I had some more tomatoes, tomato salad and I ate fish.
Q. That sounds healthy.
DUSTY BAKER: Thank you. Tonight I'm eating Filipino food.
Q. The health scare that you've gone through and talking about the contract, did it make you reevaluate how you might see the end of your career potentially in terms of how many stops, how many years?
DUSTY BAKER: Not really. I mean, I wasn't really that scared, really. If you got to end up -- if you're in the place where it happens, in a hospital, you might as well end up in a hospital. Right? I mean, shoot, if things aren't right in your life and all of the sudden, boom, I'm in the hospital, and if they can't take care of me then who can take care of me, then, other than God. The way I look at it, it was a blessing for me to be in a hospital when it was -- when I had my stroke.
I don't think it's -- I wasn't scared at all and especially when I had my family with me. They flew in. They were coming in that day.
So, hey, man, I had everybody on my side. This reminded me of when I had cancer. You start seeing the birds chirping a little more, and you start seeing the moon and you start seeing some things that you don't really pay attention to that you see. Then as far as me evaluating my contract and all that stuff, maybe that was a sign where I was supposed to stay maybe where I am, sort of. I believe in signs, so sometimes it happens.
Q. To go back a little further than 2010 and reflect on 2002...
DUSTY BAKER: John, why you want to go back all the time?
Q. It wasn't so bad in 2010, was it?
DUSTY BAKER: I know, man.
Q. Is this team at all like that team?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, kinda. To me this -- this happened to me two weeks ago. What happened to me was what happened in 2000, I started the season off fighting cancer. You know what I mean? So this is kind of taking me back to where I was before kind of. I don't know, man, every team is different. I like this team. I mean, I genuinely like this team and it reminds me of the team that I had here when you genuinely like the players and they genuinely like each other, and that can take you a long ways, by liking each other.
I asked Bill Russell one time a long time ago at a banquet and I said "What was the secret to the Celtics?" And he told me that they genuinely loved each other. I thought it was going to be a profound -- something that I could grab on to but I kept that in my book that he said they genuinely loved each other.