A special victory for Cincy, Baker

By John Fay
Updated: September 29, 2010

CINCINNATI — Reds manager Dusty Baker is a task-at-hand guy. He doesn’t spend a lot of time reflecting on his accomplishments.

“I don’t go on personal stuff too much,” he said. But this playoff run will be very personal on one level. It’s Baker’s first since his father, Johnnie Baker Jr., died.

“This really is special for me this year because I think about my dad a lot,” Baker said. “Last year was very difficult. Every time I got a midnight call, I though it was my dad.”

“He wasn’t supposed to live past the All-Star break. He wasn’t supposed to live till August. He wasn’t supposed to make it till September. And he lasted until I got home.

“I knew when this season started my dad was with me — big time.” Baker’s father traveled during his previous playoff runs. “No matter where we played my dad was there,” Baker said.

Baker knows how hard it is to get a team in this position.

“It’s a long race,” Baker said. “It’s a tough road. I think about some guys. Look at Bobby Cox. How long has he been around, and he’s won one. Tony (LaRussa’s) won two. Gene Mauch was a genius, and he won one.

“You have to everything go right. It has to go right and make it right. Which one supersedes which? I don’t know.”

Tuesday’s game had a different vibe — with a chance to clinch.

“It’s not the same,” Baker said. “You strive to get to this point for so very long. You run this race and then, you’re one step from the finish line. You’re full of desire and anticipation. We’re in a position to do this at home.

“I’ve done it both ways. It’s a lot more fun and exhilarating if you do it in front of fans, friends and family. It’s a great feeling.”