Heres how much history matters to Dusty Baker: When asked after Saturdays 2-1 Cincinnati victory over the Giants whether he would be participating in Sundays 10-year fete for the 02 World Series team, he said, and you should clip and save this for future notation:
I guess Im supposed to. The sent me a notice. But right now, Im going fishing out in the Bay.
And heres how much history matters to Mat Latos: When asked how to explain his success in San Francisco, which by the way there hasnt been of since his 2010 grumble about Brian Sabeans roster restock, he said, Its just a team. A team is a team. It doesnt matter who Im facing.
In other words, history is for the customers, to amuse themselves while they wait in a concessions line. The participants dont look backward a lot.
Latos can look backward at one of his best starts ever, though. In holding the Giants to a third-inning single by Brandon Crawford and a ninth-inning triple by Brandon Belt, he consolidated the mastery he showed five days earlier in a complete game win against Milwaukee, and gave the Reds not only a leg up on the Giants in the National League race, but gave Baker another alternative to ace Johnny Cueto.
At least on days when the Reds pitch in the airport that is American Telephone and Telegraph Southwestern Bell Corporation Pacific Bell Park -- that is, as opposed to the Peet's Coffee kiosk that is Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park.
More than that, he sent a brief but pointed message to the Giants that they have more than just the Los Angeles Dodgers to worry about.
That last part is not something that should come as news to the Giants. Like Washington and Cincinnati and Los Angeles and Pittsburgh and St. Louis and Atlanta and New York and Arizona, San Franciscos position is fluid, and even stretches like their four consecutive shutouts this dont figure to be prolonged things.
Put another way, theres more error than margin here for everyone.
And put still another way, the nostalgia fest Sunday, in which all the ups, downs and all-arounds of the 2002 season are a lot like the history of World War I. The immediacy of a long and likely confusing playoff race is already beginning to take shape, with two natural standings breaks beginning to take form after the nine-hole (Arizona) and then after the 14-hole (Colorado).
It is not hard to imagine that those will hold and even widen as Colorado, Houston and Milwaukee drop out of contention, perhaps close enough to the trade deadline to make them sellers in an eager market. But it is equally fathomable that Miami and Philadelphia might get their acts and health together and join the top nine in a real contender pigpile, the kind that induces Bud Selig to broaden the playoffs every few years whether they need them or not.
So 2002 can hang. And while youre at it, fretting about Barry Zitos departure from the strike zone in the fourth and fifth innings is also yesterdays news, even though it is still today. Zito walked six of eight hitters in those two innings but was saved a righteous beating because of a strikeout of Latos to end the fourth and a line drive by Jay Bruce with the bases loaded right into Crawfords glove.
In other words, though you might not know it looking at his pitches out of context, Zito did meet his burden by giving the Giants a chance to win, just as Latos was insuring that they actually had no chance at all.
Not complaints about Sabean stacking the deck two years ago from Latos. No grumblings about the way 2002 ended from Baker. Latos had a win to enjoy, and Baker had some fish to subdue. In baseball, now and forever, nothing is as important as the here and now.