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Dusty Baker’s Redemption Tour and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

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Although I’m somewhat nervous for the series, itself, I feel oddly calm today – much calmer than I did at this point the last two years. What about you? Are you ready? Are you already feeling the heat? Have you eaten breakfast?


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Separately, and as I’m sure you could’ve guessed, we’re going to have quite a busy day around these parts today, so stay tuned for more on the Nationals rotation, the Cubs playoff/NLDS odds, the roster, etc.

But for now, bullets …

  • I’m genuinely comfortable with this being a story line in this series, though I do think correctly framing it is important:

  • Baker has pretty clearly carried with him the sting of his time with the Cubs, which went about as poorly as it could for a high-profile manager: he took the Cubs to the NLCS in his first season, which ended in historically-memorable heartbreak in 2003. Then he led a loaded 2004 Cubs team through a disappointing season that ended with an embarrassing collapse. The team was extremely disappointing in 2005, and downright terrible in 2006. Baker wasn’t fired at that point, by the way – he simply didn’t get signed to a new contract after his four-year deal expired.
  • Baker’s time with the Cubs was marked by bizarre and frustrating player loyalty decisions, ridiculous in-game management, and more disappointment than pleasant surprise. But the guy definitely did have a knack – not unlike Joe Maddon – for getting the best out of his players, especially in the second half (well, maybe not so much with the 2004-06 Cubs, but over the course of his career). I continue to wish him well, but I hope his latest postseason ends in another round of crushing disappointment.

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(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
  • On the flip side of the managerial coin, Joe Maddon has had plenty of postseason success, and yet he’s likely to be the one more heavily scrutinized for his postseason decisions (especially bullpen decisions) in this series and beyond, thanks to some very public head-scratchers last year in the World Series. On the whole, though, Maddon is an excellent in-game manager, and, like every manager, his gaffes stand out more than his clever successes, because that’s just the way we perceive things.
  • I kept wanting to write up this Tom Ricketts interview and kept running low on time – but it’s a good read from an owner who clearly, clearly, clearly “gets it”:

  • A whole bunch of stuff just flipped to clearance at Fanatics (presumably because of the start of the postseason), so you’re gonna want to check out what they’ve got going on there. Lots of good stuff:

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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.