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Nats introduce Dusty Baker

Nov 5, 2015, 12:17 PM EDT

USA Today

Updated: 2:09 p.m.

New Nationals manager Dusty Baker walked into the interview room at Nats Park behind general manager Mike Rizzo. He thanked the ownership that was sitting to his left. He put on his No. 12 jersey and Nationals ‘Curly W’ hat.

He then proceeded to own the room like a man with his résumé and star power should. The Nationals hired a manager who has been there and done that across decades in the major leagues and one who can pull from his own life experience as a player, a coach and a man to answer any question asked.

Baker quoted Bill Russell, Bill Walsh and Nelson Mandela. He mentioned his acquaintance with President Barack Obama and other Washington politicians. He spoke of playing with Hank Aaron, coaching Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Joey Votto. He even invoked Stevie Wonder and The Doors when explaining how his style of coaching can transcend the tests of time.

If Matt Williams won his introductory press conference, what Dusty Baker accomplished was something else.

“I’ve always thought about possibly managing here in the District and in Washington, D.C. I see a lot of faces that I recognize. I have family and friends and my god-children are in Maryland. It’s like a family. It’s like coming home to a family,” Baker said.

Baker has been a big league manager for 20 seasons and has reached the World Series once, losing in seven games to the Angels in 2002. That’s as close as one can get without winning a title, and Baker made it clear that is his goal.

“You hate to have voids in your life. You can live without them, but I’d rather not,” he said.

This is Baker’s fourth managing job and he called it his last. He spoke about how much it means to him and his family to be given this opportunity.

“This is a big occasion in my life and in my family’s life. My son and daughter are very, very excited. My son gave me a whole list of Nationals shirts and jackets and jerseys and things that he wanted,” he said.

Baker was introduced as the Nats’ new manager after a bizarre saga that involved initial reports Bud Black would be the guy. General manager Mike Rizzo addressed that situation after the press conference.

“Well, that was wrong,” Rizzo said. “We had a very exhaustive process. We started off with nine candidates that we interviewed. We went painstakingly through each candidate. We finally called back seven of them and didn’t tell them that they weren’t in consideration for the job. We whittled it down to the final two candidates in Bud and Dusty and at the end of the day decided to go with Dusty.”

  1. ijncricket - Nov 5, 2015 at 12:22 PM

    Spot on. He owned the room. Impressive.

    • kkpp3 - Nov 5, 2015 at 12:38 PM

      Very impressive. I’m sure there will be times when he drives me nuts with his love of the sacrifice bunt, but right now I feel very good about this hire.

      • kkpp3 - Nov 5, 2015 at 1:19 PM

        And very smooth the way he took Rizzo and the Lerners off the hook about the job search two years ago when he wasn’t considered.

  2. Sonny G 10 - Nov 5, 2015 at 12:33 PM

    Welcome to DC, Dusty!

  3. natsfan1a - Nov 5, 2015 at 1:04 PM

    It was a tour de force.

    • phillygirl1807 - Nov 5, 2015 at 2:09 PM

      Agree. He definitely owned the room. During a later interview, FP Santangelo could hardly contain his glee at having Dusty at the Nats helm. FP seemed absolutely thrilled. If Dusty can change the atmosphere in the Nats clubhouse, and motivate our guys to do more, then he’s a great hire. He’s already enticed two good coaches, Mike Maddux and Davey Lopes, to join up. And having Dusty as manager in DC will probably attract more minority fans to the games – something I think the Lerners believed to be very important. We have to wait until April 2016 to see what transpires, but I am much more hopeful than I was when the whole managerial debacle reared its ugly head. Dusty is our guy now – and it looks like he is a welcome change from the nervousness and rigidity of the previous Nats manager.

  4. Joe Seamhead - Nov 5, 2015 at 1:10 PM

    i wonder if Rizzo will go after Cueto to fill out the rotation?

    • natsred4dndc - Nov 5, 2015 at 1:36 PM

      Of all the FA pitchers, Cueto should be at the very bottom of the Nats list.
      Head case (e.g. the playoff games at Pittsburg and Toronto).
      Inconsistent. He had a start to some really good years, only to fall off at the end. Wildly inconsistent. and badly underperformed, this season at KC.
      Poor playoff record with a postseason ERA well over 5. He did have a couple of good postseason games, both at home, one mediocre game they won despite his performance, and one stinker on the road.
      In a nutshell, not much, if any, of an upgrade from any of the currently projected starting five.

      • virginiascopist - Nov 5, 2015 at 1:46 PM

        I think Cueto will do well in the NL — keep him far away from AL hitters and he should be fine. That being said, we don’t need him. I expect he’ll attract a lot of interest due to the fact that there won’t be a QO attached to him.

      • bowdenball - Nov 5, 2015 at 2:55 PM

        Just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes someone who thinks Johnny Cueto is “not much, if any, of an upgrade” from Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez.

        This wonderful world of ours never ceases to amaze.

      • Section 222 - Nov 5, 2015 at 3:09 PM

        Hilarious bb. All of the reasons listed are valid concerns and might very well lead one to conclude that Cueto is not the best fit for the Nats. But saying that you’d rather have Tanner or Gio? That kind of undermines the whole analysis.

        Personally, I’d love to have Cueto on our staff, though the price may be too steep. He’s just plain fun to watch pitch.

      • jd - Nov 5, 2015 at 3:27 PM

        That’s plain silly. Of course Cueto is an upgrade over every Nats pitcher not named Scherzer or Strasburg. It’s also true that given the probability of a Giolito promotion in 2016 and the continued improvement of Joe Ross it’s not necessarily the wisest spend of mega bucks.

        Get a left handed bat, a proven reliever and upgrade the catching position. Also, straighten out the mess that is our middle infield. That’s quite a long to do list and none of it will be cheap or easy.

        I remain convinced that the Nats can safely offer QO to all 4 of the big free agents and that none of them will accept it. Dan O’Dowd agrees with me, he has all 4 of them in the top 25 free agent list. He thinks Fister can get 4 years and $45 mil on the free agent market.

        I hate the idea of bringing Paplebon back. I hope it’s just posturing.

      • jd - Nov 5, 2015 at 3:29 PM

        That’s $45 to $60 mil across 3 or 4 years.

      • Section 222 - Nov 5, 2015 at 5:02 PM

        Soon the speculating about what Rizzo will do with the QOs will be over, to be quickly replaced by the complaining about what he did do. I trust that the victory lap/self-back-patting by commenters period will be short and sweet.

        Maybe Mark should put up a countdown clock…

    • Joe Seamhead - Nov 5, 2015 at 4:08 PM

      Just to qualify, I am not advocating getting Jonny Cueto, but just starting a little hot stove conversation, except that Dusty and Cueto had a good relationship in a previous life.

  5. Whack-A-Mule - Nov 5, 2015 at 2:10 PM

    For the most part, “McPaper” (i.e. “USA Today” is mass-produced, poor-quality journalism.
    However, from Bob Nightengale comes true insight into the Nats’ organization:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2015/11/03/nightengale-nationals-land-dusty-baker-but-dc-still-dysfunction-junction/75099668/

    (That is the e-version of 11/03;
    the print version was headlined:
    ” Nats Define Arrogance ” .)

    • natsred4dndc - Nov 5, 2015 at 2:46 PM

      Well, the “mass-produced, poor-quality journalism” part is just right…
      I’d like to hear Nightengale’s sources for several of the purported “facts” he cites in his article, which are inconsistent with what others have said. Does he really know the exact words of a telephone conversation between Black and Rizzo, for which Rizzo tells a different story? Does he really know the exact content of a purported call between Dusty and some unnamed “they”, which Dusty denies ever happening?
      Yep, there is a level of confidence that the Nats have about how they do things. Nightengale calls it arrogance, and that’s his prerogative. But the rest of this piece is a classic example of what used to be called “yellow journalism” and got erstwhile reporters run out of the business. Nightengale is a hack, and just because he says it doesn’t make it true.

    • chaz11963 - Nov 5, 2015 at 3:14 PM

      Whacky- you were one of the first to jump on the Nats. Wow, settle down dude.

      • Joe Seamhead - Nov 5, 2015 at 4:10 PM

        Agree with you both Chaz and natred4dndc

  6. Drew - Nov 5, 2015 at 2:19 PM

    The Nats “widdled” it down?

    Try “whittled,” as in a knife paring wood.

    • TimDz - Nov 5, 2015 at 3:15 PM

      Maybe Chase was channeling his inner Tweety Bird?

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 5, 2015 at 4:02 PM

        A widdle whapped inside a mystewy …

        It’s the bald head–

        “Be vewwy, vewwy quiet. We’we hunting managews!!”

  7. kkpp3 - Nov 5, 2015 at 3:15 PM

    Just read Boswell’s piece saying Nats front office are looking at ways to use Papelbon and Storen together next year. Yikes! I just hope this is a ploy to make Pap seem palatable to some other team.

  8. Candide - Nov 5, 2015 at 3:15 PM

    In case you missed it – click Mark’s tweet (on the right) where he says, “I’ll get right on that.”

    Oh, hell – here it is:

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