Dusty isn't San Franciscos story any more

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Dusty isn't San Franciscos story any more

Its been almost two decades since Dusty Baker was first hired as a manager in this very town, and one full decade since he left in a shower of backbiting, anger and recrimination.But 20 years is a long time, and so is 10, and life has a way of shaving the pointed edges off the best and worst times. Hes gotten married and had children. Hes lost a parent. He quit one job and been fired from another, and has found his bliss in a town you would not think would be either his, or its, cup of tea.Plus he just had a health scare on top of another health scare. Most folks can hold grudges a long time, but a heart attack-ministroke double play usually brings perspective in a large travel trunk right to ones feet, and the glories and slights of the bygone era tend to fade in significance.RELATED: Dusty Baker returns from mini-stroke
Thus Saturdays National League Division Series isnt as much about Bakers triumphant return to San Francisco as you might think. Hes returned plenty of times, with good teams and bad ones, in happy surroundings and lousy ones.His time in San Francisco should not have ended as they did, in a protracted feud when then-owner Peter Magowan, and he should not have left so underappreciated given the job he did managing a clubhouse that included Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds. This statue-happy franchise should have one of him in a very prominent place given what he was asked to do, and given how well he did it.But that statue wont ever happen, because memories are long and turf is defended long after the war is over. And if the Cincinnati Reds beat the Giants in this five-game series, you may rest assured that the subject of a statue will never be brought up again.So, fine. No statue for Baker. But as we said, the future is now, and the past a million years ago. Hes moved on, because hes had to move on. He missed almost two weeks of the tail end of this season because of a mild heart attack that morphed into a mini-stroke while he was in the hospital, and while he is not likely to dwell too long on the topic over the next week or so, his grudges have been reduced to Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval.He is a baseball manager again, and he is a Cincinnati Red.Its a lie that you cant go home again. We all products of our homes, and they live in us forever. But Dusty Baker has had many homes, and for the moment, Cincinnati is as good as any of them. The town has learned what Chicago never did and what San Francisco sometimes forgot that good managers matter because they are so hard to find and match to their surroundings.Baker has been a manager for 19 years, which ties him for 23rd on the all-time longevity list, and he is one of 19 men to have managed 3,000 games, and the only one above him on that list who is not likely to go to the Hall of Fame is Ralph Houk. On the down side, he has been accused, more wrongly than rightly, of being a bane to pitchers health, and of having too a thin skin for managerial work.RELATED: Giants-Reds NLDS broadcast scheduleThat, too has changed. Most of the pitchers who got hurt on his watch had already come to him either damaged or with a delivery that suggested injury was on the way. And while he did not suffer slightly willingly or silently, he spoke up when he saw a wrong, and that cannot be a bad thing ever.So he comes to San Francisco now a far different man than the one who came here as a coach, or a manager, and different still than the one who left, a victim of front office meddling and turf-protecting. There will be some Baker nostalgia, and perhaps he will get a long and loud ovation when he is introduced before Saturdays game in thanks for services rendered.But he isnt really San Franciscos story any more. Hes not playing for his legacy in a city two jobs ago. Hes playing for the team he has today, and a city that has come to see him as a success. He has taken the Reds to two division titles in three seasons after 14 years of doing without, and this team is primed for a deep October run.Most importantly, though, Baker is alive to see it. And old enough to know that bygones, bad and good, really are bygones. Only the moment matters, he looks as good in red as in orange and black.Just ask him.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0-for-4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The promotion of an intriguing prospect can bring a certain buzz to the ballpark. It didn’t last long. 

The debut of Ryder Jones came in the latest flat performance from the Giants, who collapsed late and fell 5-2 to the Mets. The loss was their 50th of the season. They did not lose their 50th game last season until August 12. 

With the score tied in the eighth, Curtis Granderson crushed a leadoff triple into the alley. Sam Dyson walked the next batter and then whiffed Yoenis Cespedes, but Jay Bruce greeted Steven Okert with an RBI single to right. It kept going poorly from there. 

Here are five things to know from a cool day by the water … 

—- Jones grounded out to second in his first at-bat and then flied out to center, grounded out to first, and grounded out to second. He had one chance in the field, starting a double play that ended the second inning.  

—- Johnny Cueto seems to have turned a corner. Over his past two starts, he has allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings. Whether they trade him or not, the Giants certainly could use a nice little hot streak for the next six weeks. 

—- A few seconds after Bruce Bochy shook Cueto’s hand, Brandon Belt got him off the hook for a loss. He hit the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh into the seats in left-center, tying the game. The homer was Belt’s 14th. He’s on pace for 29. 

—- The Mets got eight one-run innings out of Jacob deGrom, who is quietly the most reliable of a star-studded rotation. He struck out seven and gave up just four hits. 

—- If Madison Bumgarner wants another Silver Slugger Award, he’ll have to chase down deGrom, who hit a homer in his last start. His single in the third was his 10th hit, and he finished the day with a .294 average.