Chicago Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon told reporters he was looking at Stephen Strasburg closely in preparation for the NLDS opener in Washington, D.C. tonight, but said that at this point, “... there's not a whole greater dependence or looking into information right now.”
“Actually I really prefer just the exact opposite,” Maddon explained.
“This is the time of the year for simplicity. You don't need extra scouting reports. You don't need to dig any deeper.
“That's the trap, I believe. I believe you need to go exactly the other way. Now is when guys need to play. You've been playing since March, and now all of a sudden you're going to reinvent the method by which you prepare yourself for a baseball game. I think that's not right.
“So moving forward, I prefer us keeping a more simple approach. Of course, you have your plan. Of course, you have your approach, of course. But you do that every game. And so it's no different than playing these guys a month ago, I don't think, in regards to prep.
“So he's good. Our guy's good. It should be a nice game.”
Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker talked in his own pregame press conference about going up against a team that, coming off a World Series win, and a strong second half, is going into the NLDS confident that they can repeat. Does the fact that they’ve been there before make a difference?
“It matters,” Baker said, “because I've been there. I've been on repeats as a player or whatever it is; the feeling that you have, and the feeling of confidence and not the panic or whatever it is.
“You know, I mean, that's an advantage to them somewhat that they have been there, but we've been close ourselves. So this is going to be a heck of a Postseason. I mean, you've got some quality teams in both leagues. One of my roommates, Ralph Garr, was telling me how good this couple of teams are in the American League. I'm like, "Hey, I don't want to hear that, because we're good, too."
“I don't think I've seen this many 100-win teams in the Postseason, but, again, that goes back to the have and the have-nots, when there's [12 teams above .500] and 18 teams under .500, is there parity as it was predicted to be? Doesn't look like it to me.”
A reporter, wondering about all the injuries the Nationals have team dealt with on the way to 97 wins, and the latest injury issues with Max Scherzer, who’s now likely to start Game 3 against the Cubbies, asked Baker if he was frustrated to the point of kicking puppies [ed. note - “His words.”] and putting his hand through a wall?
“No,” Baker said, “... because I was always taught: You identify the problem; doesn't do any good to kick a puppy, and I tried putting my hand through the wall, and it didn't do nothing but hurt me.
“I'm a man of solutions. You identify the problem and then you try to find a solution. You dwell on the problem, doesn't do you, your health, the situation, anything, any good. I just deal with the solution. Sometimes I don't have one till I get there, you know.”
Maddon was asked if there was a different mindset heading into the Postseason as the defending World Series winner, as opposed to a team that was trying to end 108 years of frustration for Chicago last Fall.
“I won't be disingenuous, of course there is,” Maddon said. “You've been there, done that, and I don't mean that to sound in a casual sense. I mean, you have, so how do you define experience and what is experience worth? Experience at least is worth knowing, what it took to do that last year. And I think coming into this Postseason, we have a knowing that we didn't have last year.
“So I would want to believe that coming into this year, we have an eagerness about us without an anxiety about us. I think that's what it really comes down to. I think when you approach in a knowing situation, you tend to be more anxious as opposed to eager or excited about being in that moment. Because, hey, I kind of like this, we've done this before, I know what we can do. If this were to happen, we can react in an appropriate manner. I want to believe that.
“We are going to find out in the next couple of days. And again, not in a casual sense, but the fact that you have done it before, should provide some knowing, which to me, is how do you define experience.”
Maddon was asked how about the fact that he and Baker were compared to each other on occasion. Does he see similarities?
“The thing about Dusty,” Maddon said, “if anybody would ever compare — I've always heard how good he is with his players. That's the thing that has always stood out to me when I first started doing this.”
“I've never figured out what the opposite of a player's manager is,” Baker joked.
“I mean, what is the opposite of a -- would that be a management's manager?”
“I don't know. I'd like to think that, you know, there's a right way and a wrong way,” Baker said.
“I just manage the way that my dad managed me and our family and what I've been through in the Marines and different teams I've been on. I wasn't worried about if you're a player's manager or not.”
“I didn't know Dusty,” Maddon said. “Worked against him in 2002 World Series. A lot of the guys knew him. There were always platitudes regarding his ability to connect with the group in the clubhouse, so that's always been -- and if I get compared in that way, in any way, shape, or form, I'll take it.
“Talking with him one-on-one, it's always a real friendly, cordial, easy conversation with the guy. So you can see where that follows up with his players. I don't really know him that well. I'm not professing to know him that well. I just know the interaction I've had, it's always pleasant and that's what I've heard about.”
Tonight the two managers go head-to-head in the NLDS. Will the good vibes between the two skippers survive a postseason showdown?