Brennaman: Baker a solid choice
Broadcaster says team 'committed to getting this thing right'
BY SHANNON RUSSEL
The Reds’ move to bring in a big-name manager shows the country that the organization is committed to producing a winning product.
That’s veteran broadcaster Thom Brennaman’s take on new Reds manager Dusty Baker.
Brennaman spent years with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs and continues to do major league postseason telecasts for FOX. He shared his views on the national impact of Baker’s hiring before Wayne Krivsky and Bob Castellini introduced the manager at today’s press conference in Great American Ball Park.
“He was a great player. He’s been a very, very successful manager. Has he won the World Series? No. Has he gotten to the World Series? Yeah,” Brennaman said. “I saw him a lot in my 11 years in Arizona when he was managing the Giants. The job he did there was second to none of anybody in all of baseball. I think it sends a great signal to all of baseball that the Reds are committed to getting this thing right.”
Brennaman has known Baker for years and describes him as an ideal mix between a successful leader and a player’s coach.
He brushed off popular criticisms – that Baker has mishandled pitchers, particularly Cubs hurlers Kerry Wood and Mark Prior – and called such comments “unfair.”
“To begin with, they had injury problems before Dusty got there. The second part of it is you really can’t have it both ways. In Chicago they haven’t been to a World Series since 1945. And he was trying to ride those horses as hard as he could to get them to a World Series in 2003,” Brennaman said.
“Would he do it differently now? Perhaps. But I don’t think it’s a fair indictment on him that he can’t handle the pitchers as it pertains to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.”
Brennaman said Baker was the most accomplished manager available. The bottom line, he said, is that Baker is a great fit for the Reds.
“As far as length of time and success, Dusty was the best guy for the job,” Brennaman said.
BAKER FAN: Chuck Harmon, the first African-American to play for the Reds in 1954, couldn’t have been happier with the Reds’ managerial selection.
Decked out in a red jacket with a Reds hat and cane, Harmon was among those who applauded Baker upon his introduction. Baker is the Reds’ first African-American manager.
When asked about Cincinnati progress in race relations, Baker said: “Hopefully there will come a time when you no longer look at me as an African-American manager or leader. You look at me as a man and a leader that’s going to lead your team regardless of who I am.”
Harmon said Baker can’t worry about what people think of him, or he’ll “end up in the grave still worrying about” himself.
“For every person that doesn’t like you, there are 10 or more that do,” Harmon said.
MACKANIN: Krivsky said former interim manager Pete Mackanin was a serious contender for the position, and there will be a place in the Reds organization if Mackanin “thinks it’s the best place for him.”
Mackanin has said he wants to pursue a big-league coaching job, but is open to returning as part of Baker’s staff. Baker said today he hasn’t discussed personnel issues yet.
LEWIS’ TAKE: Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he has yet to meet Dusty Baker, introduced earlier today as Reds manager, but added that he is "flattered" that Cincinnati has two African-American head coaches.
"It’s not a black thing nor a white thing," Lewis said. "Let’s win a lot of football and baseball games."Lewis referred to Baker as "accomplished" and said that he knew the Reds ownership, the Castellini family, is happy to have Baker in the fold and wants to win badly.