CINCINNATI -- The parallels between Marvin Lewis and Dusty Baker are striking.
Not only have both called Cincinnati home the past six years, but they share unique coaching paths. When the two took over the Bengals and Reds, respectively, they were charged with reinventing a pair of franchises that had just come off a string of losing seasons. In Lewis' case, the Bengals had losing marks in the six years before he arrived. The Reds had seven straight sub-.500 seasons before Baker took them over.
In three of the past four years, the Bengals have made it to the playoffs, only to see the disappointment of a first-round defeat.
The Reds have their own inauspicious performances in three of the past four baseball postseasons. Including Tuesday night's loss to Pittsburgh in the National League wild-card playoff game, they had been eliminated before the second round of the playoffs. The Reds haven't been to the NLCS since 1995. In part because of Tuesday's loss and a recent string of others, the Reds front office felt compelled to fire Baker on Friday.
Lewis, an NFL coach who has fielded his fair share of criticism and weathered possible firing storms in the 11 years he has led the Bengals, empathized with his Queen City coaching colleague.
"You don't want to see it happen. He's worked his butt off," Lewis said. "They're still trying to get over the hump and into the championship series. That's his goal more than anybody. Nobody's going to take a loss harder than the coach or the manager -- nobody. He's put in so much of the blood, sweat and the tears to get them to that point. So, no one feels it like he feels it."
Lewis said he and Baker interacted often during Baker's Cincinnati stay, which began in 2008. The former Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder came to the Reds after stints managing the Cubs and Giants. In 2002, he led San Francisco to the World Series, but it lost in seven games to the Angels.
"Prior to Dusty even being here, you look at him as a coach, manager, who's been so successful with his style," Lewis said. "Then having an opportunity to meet him once he was here and to talk with him at times, his style is very similar to a football coach's style. He's very fundamental and that's what's important to him. The guy's going about it and doing it the right way, and that's the way he sees things."