Dusty Baker told reporters this winter that he saw room for improvement in his second season on the bench in the nation’s capital after leading the Washington Nationals to a 95-67 record last season... and a loss in the NLDS.
“We won 95 games and we had three or four guys with years that weren't indicative of them, you know? Quite honestly, I wanted to win 100 games. I won 103 games my first year and I remember telling [Tony] La Russa that's what I wanted to do this year. And I didn't tell you guys that because you would have written this guy is crazy already.”
He talked to La Russa about the possibility because it was a discussion they’d had in the past.
“I remember LaRussa [in 1993] telling me, ‘You don't know what you've done,’ Baker said, after he led the San Francisco Giants to a 103-59 record in his first season as a major league manager.
“And I said, ‘No. What did I do?’
“And he said, ‘You won 100 games.’
“And I was like, ‘So? Why can't I do that every year?’ Nineteen years later, still haven't done it but I got quite a few 90s in there.”
If the Nationals (92-59) can win eight of their last eleven games this season, they can reach 100 wins, and hard as it would have been to believe a few months back, they still have a (long) shot at the best overall record in the National League.
Baker talked after last night’s win about the possibility of getting to 100 wins.
“That was an important number when the season started to me,” he said, “if you can round those numbers off then why not.
“My team won 100 victories in my first year of managing and we haven’t won 100 since.
“But I remember Tony La Russa at the end of that year he asked me did I know what I just did, and I said, ‘No, not really,’ and he said, ‘You won 100 victories,’ and I said, ‘Well, that’s good.’
“But 20 years later I still haven’t won back to 100 victories, so I guess I didn’t know what I did.”
A reporter also mentioned that the Nationals did have a shot at the Dodgers for the best overall record in the NL.
“That’s big too,” Baker said. “Like I said, we’re not going to try to kill our guys to try to get to it, but if it’s within reach, then we’re going to go for it, so especially after last weekend, they beat us two out of three at our place, and it looks like now they’re struggling a little bit up in Philly, so we’re just going to try to win every game that we can.”
The Dodgers, as Baker mentioned, just dropped three straight in Citizens Bank Park and four overall including the finale with the Nationals in the nation’s capital on Sunday.