|Reds channeling 2004 Red Sox||10.09.10 at 3:47 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — In the spring of 2008, the Reds made the trek down I-75 from their then-spring home of Sarasota to Fort Myers for a Grapefruit League game against the Red Sox.
New Reds manager Dusty Baker came over to Red Sox skipper Terry Francona and exchanged a handshake and an embrace.
Baker and Francona have always had mutual respect for one another.
And on Saturday here in Cincinnati, less than 24 hours after his team committed four errors in a 7-4 meltdown at Citizens Bank Park – booting away a realistic chance of beating the powerhouse Phillies in the NLDS – Baker summoned the words of Francona from 2004.
It was then that Francona – down 3-0 to the Yankees – told his team just take care of business in the next game and the rest will take care of itself. By coming back and winning four in a row on their way to the title, the Red Sox not only gave their fans the gift of a lifetime, they provided inspiration and hope for every team that follows that no matter the odds, there’s always a chance.
On Saturday, Baker – just minutes before his team’s workout on a brilliant, sunny day at Great American Ball Park – reminded everyone that despite the predicament, the Reds still have a fighter’s chance.
” It is a tough spot, but it’s not impossible,” Baker said. “All things are possible through faith and perseverance. I’ve been in this situation, down 2-1, down three with three to go in 1980.”
Bronson Arroyo, Friday’s victim of the Reds’ mental and physical collapse, was on the 2004 Red Sox, as was Reds shortstop Orlando Cabrera.
“Arroyo was in Boston when they were down 3-0 in a best-of-7, and they came back and won four,” Baker recalled. “The hardest thing is to win one. And you win one, and you got yourself some action. And we’ve got our backs up against the wall, but this club performs well with our backs up against the wall. That’s the kind of club we have. I wish we didn’t always have our backs against the wall, but, you know, we’ve been there before, not necessarily in elimination, but we’re just trying to get one.”
Cabrera has likely seen his last action until the World Series – if the Reds can pull off a miraculous comeback – since he re-aggravated a left oblique injury turning a double play in the fourth inning Friday night.
Baker, who always handles himself with grace in answer questions, was asked if it’s easier having a young team in this position who may not know what they don’t know.
“No, I don’t think it’s easy to be in this situation at all,” Baker said. “I would rather be up 2-0. Personally, I was thinking this morning about, you know, when I was in the military, and you would rather be in a situation where, on your second or third tour of duty, to know what to do rather than your first tour.
“This is the first tour for these guys and you’re actually more resilient as you get older, because you’ve been through more, you’ve been through more problems. Like I said before the worst situation in your whole life, until you get the to next one. I’m not worried too much about these guys.
If you’re wondering if Baker loses sleep after coming out on the wrong end of a disastrous game like Friday, don’t.
“Well, you don’t exactly forget about it,” Baker said. “I have no trouble going to sleep. I can go to sleep in a matter of seconds. I’m a kind of mid-sleep insomniac, it wakes me up at 4, 4:30 thinking about things. And I try not to think about the game, because you can’t bring that back. Going forward, lineup changes, different things we have to do to win, because you cannot do anything about replaying the game. It’s impossible. It does no good.
“So one of the best books I read this year was, “The Power of Now”, which tells you to get out of the past and get into the present,” Baker said. “And that’s the only thing you can control, is right now. We can’t bring it back.”
But Baker wouldn’t mind if the spirit of the 2004 Red Sox showed up suddenly in 2010.
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