10/01/2003 7:15 PM ET
Notes: Crazy in Chicago?
Baker warns of 'crazy' in-game moves
ATLANTA -- In the postseason, every managerial move is
studied, criticized and analyzed. Some would say
over-analyzed, but that's another story. Chicago Cubs
manager Dusty Baker warned his players he may do some
things that could seem a little crazy.
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
"I told everybody before we started here that we have
to do everything we can to win every game," Baker
Take the sixth inning of Game 1 Tuesday. Baker decided
to lift shortstop Alex Gonzalez for pinch-hitter
Randall Simon. The bases were loaded, nobody out, and the
Cubs already had stranded six. Simon struck out --
which was not what Baker had in mind, obviously -- and
Paul Bako grounded out, allowing a run to score. Pitcher
Kerry Wood followed with his tie-breaking two-run
"I liked the matchup better, that's all," Baker said
of replacing Gonzalez with Simon.
Moves like that reinforce that this is a different
time of year, baseball-wise.
"It depends on who you're facing," Baker said. "If
you're facing Jason Schmidt and the bases are loaded, I
might have done the same thing. (Atlanta starter Russ
Ortiz) struck 'Gonzo' out looking the time before that
(in the fourth). The fourth is too early to make that
kind of move. In that situation (in the sixth), I need
a guy like Simon who doesn't strike out. And then he
strikes out anyway."
Then Baker chuckled.
So it's a different thought process in a short series
or just because it's the postseason?
"Both," Baker said. "At that time of the game, 1-0,
and the bottom of the order coming up (for the Cubs), I
just felt it was the only decision. That was the
inning of decision. We'd had plenty of opportunities and
hadn't gotten anybody home and especially with a guy who
doesn't strike out."
Dress code: In case you're keeping score,
Baker's Game 2 outfit included the same gray wristbands
with red stripes that he wore in Game 1. Remember, the
Cubs won the first game of this best-of-five series,
Media darlings: Tuesday night's Cubs-Braves
primetime telecast registered an 8.9 rating in the
metered markets. The rating represents the best performance
for a Division Series opener since 1998 when the Texas
Rangers played at the New York Yankees. It's an
increase of 11 percent over the first Division Series game
in prime time last year.
The telecast out-performed last year's deciding NLDS
Game 5 between the San Francisco Giants and Atlanta
Braves as well as Game 5 of the 2000 ALDS between
the Yankees and Athletics.
Experience counts: The Cubs have not played in
the postseason since 1998 and are making only their
third trip since 1945 which is quite a contrast to the
Braves who have won 12 consecutive division titles.
"I think talent is the key," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox
said when asked about the importance of experience at
this time of year. "I don't think experience has that
much to do with it."
The Cubs do have playoff experience. Just not with
Chicago. Antonio Alfonseca and Moises Alou both won World
Series rings with Florida in 1997. Mark Guthrie won a
World Series ring with Minnesota in 1991 and Damian
Miller won his in 2001 with Arizona.
Kenny Lofton is playing in the postseason for the
eighth time in the last 10 seasons, including trips to the
World Series with Cleveland in 1995 and San Francisco
Mike Remlinger pitched in 19 postseason games for
Atlanta from 1999-2002, including a trip to the World
Series in '99.
Kerry Wood started in 1998, his rookie year, when the
Cubs advanced as the NL Wild Card winner. Does
postseason experience really matter?
"It's like coming out of college without experience --
you graduate from college and everybody asks you how
much experience you have," Cubs manager Dusty Baker
said. "You've got to start somewhere. You don't come out
of college with the experience for that job.
"This is a learning process," he said. "There is
really nothing to be concerned about. Look at the Braves
over there. They didn't start with postseason
experience. Some point in time, every guy in there, it was their first time in the postseason. So, we are in a position
where they were already."
Baker delivered a light and very positive message to
the team before Game 1 Tuesday.
"We had a meeting and we had laughter," Baker said.
"Any time you can laugh, it cuts the edge on everything.
I'm sure I said something crazy, didn't make a whole
bunch of sense, but I got some laughs on it."
Survey says: Mark Prior is the Cubs' MVP
according to a poll on the Cubs website. Of the 148,928
votes cast, Prior received 116,115, or 78 percent.
Closer Joe Borowski was a distant second, receiving
8,646 votes, followed by Sammy Sosa (7,570), Moises Alou
(7,112), Kerry Wood (5,821) and Carlos Zambrano
Home, sweet home: Baker was not a fan of
Wrigley Field when he played there and for selfish reasons.
"I didn't hit well there," Baker said. "My depth
perception was off there. I was too close to the pitcher
and the grass was too thick and it was hard to go to
sleep in that town.
"Some guys like it," he said of the Cubs' home park.
"I didn't see the ball well. I could never get
comfortable in the box. It seemed like it was off center and
the pitcher's mound was off to the right and it
should've been off to the left."
And now as a manager?
"I'm not crazy when the wind is blowing out," Baker
said. "I like when the wind is blowing in. It changes. I
like it a lot now. It's my home."
Wrigley is the second oldest ballpark in the Majors
behind Boston's Fenway Park. Can it survive another 50
"I don't know. In 50 years, I'll be 104," Baker said.
Math is hard: Carlos Zambrano was asked if what
the Cubs did in Game 1 would affect him in any way in
"No," Zambrano said. "In a game, you have to make 27
outs to get the victory and then you can say we won.
You have to make 27 plus 27 plus 27 to win three games.
I don't know what that is. My math is bad. You have to
make 27 and 27 and 27 to go to the next step to face
Florida or San Francisco. So if they win (Tuesday),
they still have to make 27 more outs and 27 more outs for
the next two games."
You do the math.
Bear weather: Friday's forecast for Game 3 of
the NLDS, to be played at Wrigley Field, calls for
highs in the upper 50s but lows in the mid 40s and a
chance of showers. Be prepared.
Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not
subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its