It’s the first Friday afternoon after the baseball season is officially over and there is really no news or anything new going on at the moment, though the Nationals have already made some offseason news by bringing back their entire coaching staff [ed. note - “Yes, even Bob Henley, stop it.”] and picking up Gio Gonzalez’s $12M option for the 2017 campaign.
The Nats also declined the option of Yusmeiro Petit, the disappearing reliever, who didn’t see much action after the All-Star Break.
So with nothing really to do this afternoon, we decided to go back through Dusty Baker’s best quotes from his first season in Washington and collect them all in one place to give you something to read...
We apologize in advance the sort-of-random nature of the collection, but really we’re not much into efforting at the moment.
Dusty Baker as Spring Training started:
Baker early in Spring Training about talking to Bryce Harper, stressing patience at the plate:
"I'm going to talk to him about being patient and not allowing them to frustrate you, because they're going to try to frustrate you. And I saw Barry Bonds, man.
"[Bonds] was the best at not getting frustrated. What did he walk two hundred times or something? ? Ooof, man. Every time they walk you it actually helps your batting average. If you're a .300 hitter you've got a 70% change to make an out. So, and then Barry was patient. You couldn't lull him to sleep and then he'd get one pitch to hit and it would be adios. And it's not as important who's hitting behind Bryce, but... it's as important as who hits in front of him, because it doesn't matter who's hitting behind unless it's Mike Trout or the kid up there in Detroit, [Miguel Cabrera]. Unless it's one of those guys, and you don't have the money to pay for all of them, then you try to clog up the bases where they can't walk [you] unless they walk in a run, so it's really important who we get on in front of Bryce."
Baker on why he wanted to get back in the game after two years away from managing:
Baker offered his thoughts early in the season on why now-former Nationals’ closer Jonathan Papelbon was struggling against his former team, the Philadelphia Phillies:
"Hank Aaron always told me the most dangerous pitcher was a relaxed pitcher. Because -- he'd go up there first and he'd get all these hangers and nothing sinkers and I'd get up there and he said, 'They're not afraid of you and the damage is done.'
"They wanted to throw him that hecka-slider and it just spins and the hecka-sinker and it just runs. And so maybe [Papelbon] is just not relaxed against his former team, according to the Hank Aaron Theory.”
Baker on what his friends tell him about the Nationals’ logo. I’d never heard anyone say this before he brought it up...
Baker on how Pete Rose used to foul off pitches on purpose:
"I remember one time I asked Pete Rose, I was on first base, I said, 'Pete why did you...' -- he fouled off about fifteen, and I could tell that he wasn't even trying to put them in play. He said he called it 'sending the fans souvenirs' because he didn't like the guy on the mound. So he was just going to foul off -- he fouled off about fifteen of them.
"He just didn't like the guy."
Baker on how the game moved slow for him when he used to play:
"The game since I was a player has been kind of slow in my mind cause I remember talking to Sadaharu Oh, and he says, you have to have the presence -- years ago -- and he says -- from being a clutch man, you think about -- your heart is beating fast, but your mind has to be slow to control your heart cause your heart can get you in trouble. You have to have the presence of mind to control your emotions and your heart."
Baker on what makes the great ones great, veterans staying motivated deep into their careers:
"I think the great ones have, no.1, great vision," Baker said. "That's what I think no.1. Outstanding vision. They see things that other people don't see. The second thing, they've got tremendous drive and concentration and never satisfied. I remember asking Sadaharu Oh, 'How do you stay motivated?' when he was an eight-time MVP, they used to train with us, when I was Dodger... and he said, through an interpreter, he wanted the ninth MVP after he had eight. And then he said he was never satisfied until he quit playing and looked back on what he had done. That's pretty deep."
Wil Myers had a great season with the Padres, but still how did Mike Rizzo get Trea Turner and Joe Ross in the three-team trade?:
Baker after Bryce Harper tracked back thinking he missed first base on his way around the bases after HR No. 100 of his career:
Things got uncomfortable at times, like when Dusty Baker talked about giving the wrong sign to one of his players:
Here’s what he had to say about the challenge of staying in the majors:
Dusty Baker believes in the power of positive thinking:
He really does believe. Here’s what he said about the power of positive thinking before Game 5 of the NLDS. [ed. note - “He also subtly references Caps fans.”]:
“You know, the one thing that I urge the town is to be in a positive mood -- and mood, because I had know I had spoken to some hockey fans, and they were expecting -- I was watching the game with them and they were expecting bad things to happen or expecting them to lose. And I haven't been here long enough to know what the history is here, but all I know is just positive thoughts go a long ways.
“And the places where I've been were where people were positive no matter what the score was, no matter what. It was usually a positive outcome. And other places I've been, where they expect negative, they have been a negative outcome.
“So I just urge everybody to, you know, they say the mind can move mountains, and they can certainly move a ball. I want everybody to just, you know, think good and happy thoughts.”
Baker after Danny Espinosa hit his 19th HR of the season:
Reporter: “Nice to see Espinosa hit a home run?”
Baker: “Yeah, but I mean, he’s been swinging for it.”
Baker on whether Max Scherzer was the best pitcher he’s ever managed:
“He’s — I had Billy Swift, a 20-game winner. John Burkett. I had Jason Schmidt. I had Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.
“He’s the most determined pitcher that I’ve had. I think he’s one of the most determined individuals that I know.
“I used to get bugged watching him on TV when he was with the Tigers, but I love him on my team, cause he walks around and stuff, it’s like he’s out there by himself kind of. He don’t care about TV, he don’t care about how he looks, he don’t care about nothing other than winning and getting the hitter out, and I really saw that against his former team, the Tigers, that’s when I really realized what this guy was all about.”
Baker after NLDS Game 5 loss to the Dodgers:
“I'm proud of my guys on how they played this year and how they played through injuries and just kept fighting and fighting, even down to the last out of this game, they fought. I have nothing but praise for the guys on this team, because they gave me and they gave the organization, they gave the city, all they had. I mean, it's tough to take, but you know, you have to be proud of what they accomplished so far.”