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Thursday, July 1, 2010
Baker remembers days managing Cubs

By Bruce Levine

In the world of former Cubs manager Dusty Baker, the past is best left in the past. However, that rule doesn’t exist when questions about the Cubs’ streak of 101 years and counting without a championship are directed your way.

“It’s tough,” Baker said. “It’s tough. And one reason it’s tough is that nobody let’s go of the past [in Chicago]. That’s why it’s tough. Everybody still is counting.

“I was here four [2003-06] out of the 100 years. You talk to most people, they talk like I was here the whole 100 years. I’m only 61 years old. Everywhere is tough if you’re not winning, I don’t care where you’re at.”

Baker was asked about the negativity that follows the Cubs.

“I couldn’t solve some of the problems when I was here,” Baker said, “and I certainly don’t have the power, wisdom or authority to do it now.”

Baker’s teams in Chicago had two traumatic incidents. In 2003, leading the Florida Marlins 3-1 in the NLCS, Baker’s teams yielded leads in Game 6 and Game 7 at home with ace pitchers Kerry Wood and Mark Prior on the mound. In 2004, Baker’s club had a 1 game lead with 9 left in the season, but the Cubs choked away a playoff chance, losing seven of their last nine games.

Baker returned to Chicago on Thursday as the toast of the NL as his team battles the St. Louis Cardinals for a division crown while the Cubs continue to flounder.

“I try not to look back,” he said. “I try to deflect forward, because you can’t worry about what’s behind you. One of my favorite books that I’m reading is “The Power of Now.” The book deals with now, instead of bringing everything back from the past. You don’t really dwell on good stuff from the past, most of the time.”

Baker was asked to reflect on his time as the Cubs manager. He was asked pointedly if they were mostly good memories.

“They were happy in the beginning,” Baker said, “kind of like a very good marriage gone bad. Sometimes it happens.”

Baker is part of a group of Hall of Fame-caliber managers on the last year of their contract.

“Why be bothered by something you have no control over,” Baker said. “You can’t hire yourself. This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve been in this situation [including free agency as a player]. You just concentrate on winning and doing the best job you can. Everything else will fall into place.”