At some point, I stopped associating Dusty Baker with the Giants. Not sure when it was. There's a good chance that it was when the Giants won the World Series*, and I could stop thinking about Russ Ortiz coming out and Felix Rodriguez coming in every time I closed my eyes. Here's the game ball, Russ. Thanks, Skip. Here's the game ball, Russ. Thanks, Skip. Here's the game ball, Russ ...
But there was a while where Dusty was the Giants, almost as much as Bonds was. He was one of the few managers who were part of the story when they went on the road. And he drove me nuts. That's what managers are supposed to do, really, and Dusty was especially good at it. He'd bunt in the first inning. He'd bunt in the ninth inning. If he weren't in baseball, he'd be on a bus somewhere, yelling about bunts. He'd be going door-to-door, carrying pamphlets, and asking if he could come in and talk about bunts for a while.
In about fifteen years, Bunt Baker will be drafted. Darren, we know. But Bunt will go under the radar. Watch for him.
And, of course, there's the arm-slagging reputation that he has. Part of me feels like it's a little unfair -- things were totally different back then, and it's like going on and on about a high-school haircut. We get it, it was bad, but did you see the next guy?
Then I look at a game like this, and all thoughts of amnesty were off. The Cubs were up 7-0, and you let your 22-year-old ace stay in for 131 pitches? For what? For whom? I'm not a pitch-count zealot, but at least give me a reason why a pitcher should be overextended. It's a playoff game, he's throwing a no-hitter, it's a close game in a pennant race and the starting pitcher is throwing well. But I feel like Dusty's answer would be something vague about how Prior's delivery still looked smooth or something.
It's to the point, though, where I hardly even remember what it was like to watch a Dusty-managed team. Felipe Alou? I remember that like it was yesterday. Spoiler: if he's ever stranded on a jungle island, the smoke monster will be Jim Brower's arm.
So Dusty's back again, and that's something .... There was closure somewhere, and that surprises me. I remember him fondly now, something between crazy uncle and friendly next-door neighbor. He's not ex-Giants manager Dusty Baker to me anymore. He's just Dusty Baker.
Hitter to watch
If the Giants are up by three in the ninth and Brian Wilson walks the bases loaded, I'd hate to see Edgar Renteria come up. Not because he's especially fearsome -- he's hitting .237/.324/.268 -- but because that's the one person in the world who could hit a grand slam there without making me mad. It'd be like, okay. You got us. Well played.
Can't be angry at Edgar. Hope he doesn't play, though I do want to see the reaction when he comes up to bat.
Pitcher to not watch
Edinson Volquez vs. Jonathan Sanchez? Oh, man. I think I'll have to alphabetize my sweaters that day. Walk, walk, walk, strikeout, walk, pout, walk, walk, walk, strikeout, walk...
Four games against the Reds will either make the Giants feel better, worse, or about how the season is going.