Programming alert: Watch SportsNet Central's October Quest, giving you everything you need to know before and after Game 1 between the Giants and Reds on CSN Bay Area. Coverage starts at 5:30 p.m. and picks up after the final out.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The newold division series playoff format has many scratching their heads, especially Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker.Higher-seeded teams, such as Baker's Reds, are "rewarded" with only one guaranteed home playoff game and have to open the playoffs with two games on the road."It doesn't feel like I have the home field advantage at all," Baker said before Saturday night's series opener against the Giants. "This is similar to '97, when we played the Florida Marlins down there, and I was with the Giants here and we played them down there and they beat us the first two games and we came out here and we had one game and they ended up being the world champions. So it kind of reminds me of that."You would rather have the 221 format, but they say that's next year."Hard to believe its been almost 10 years since J.T. Snow saved a three-year-old Darren Baker at home plate during the World Series, right?But there was a 13-year-old Darren Baker sitting at his father's side during the pregame media conference when the elder Baker was asked about the rule banning such young children serving as batboys. A ruling of which the manager was not too fond.REWIND: Dusty isn't San Francisco's story anymore
"I just think that they took it a little bit too far, as far as the young men and women that, at that age, most of them either have their own games or they have lost interest in the game," Baker said. "I'm proud that two of my bat boys at that time, Ellis Burks' son is about to go to college or possibly get drafted.Juan Lopez, one of the bat boys, (is) playing with Kansas City and Shawon Dunston's son is playing with the Cubs. This is how you perpetuate the games by letting these young men and woman come around the field to be around their fathers."When I think about him and I think about back in the day when it looks like there were Boones everywhere. There were so many out there -- Are you a Boone? Yeah, I'm a Boone."Laughter erupted."Then look at the Bells, Griffey, Barry Bonds and all the guys that are playing then and now because they were out there with their fathers, you know what I mean?" Baker said. "To my knowledge, the lawyers got involved and they said it had something to do with the child labor laws and, you know, the laws got us."Baker opener AT&T Park, then called Pac Bell Park, in 2000. So forgive him if he gets a little nostalgic about facing the Giants in the playoffs."Well, yeah, I mean, we helped put some bricks in this stadium here," Baker said."We came over from Candlestick when the new stadium was built, and it meant a lot to us. It looks the same, well preserved, and anytime you come back to your own home, it means a lot.Coming out of the other stadium it always seemed a little weird, but I'm getting used to it."Baker is 16-14 as a visiting manager on the shores of McCovey Cove, going 7-6 with the Chicago Cubs and 9-8 with the Reds.The Reds have lost their last seven playoff games, dating to Game 3 of a division series sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995. Cincinnati was swept in four games by the Atlanta Braves in the 1995 NLCS and was then swept by the Philadelphia Phillies in three games of an NLDS in 2010."I didn't know that number," Baker said. "I swear I don't know any of these numbers.What's important is today, you can't do anything about the last 17 years, whatever it is.Let's have a game today and then we won't be talking about it, we will talk about the next time. My son asked me, 'Is this the first time the Reds have ever played the Giants (in the playoffs)?'"Okay, it is.All right." Cincinnati's last playoff win came on Oct. 6, 1995, when David Wells beat Hideo Nomo, and Bret Boone, Mark Lewis and Ron Gant all homered at Riverfront Stadium in that 10-1 Reds victory over the Dodgers.More numbers for Baker to chew on: with playoff appearances in two of the past three years, Baker is only the third manager in Reds history to lead Cincinnati to the playoffs more than once, joining Bill McKechnie (1939 and 1940) and Sparky Anderson (1970, 1972, 1973, 1975 and 1976)Cincinnati, along with the Washington Nationals, Athletics and Baltimore Orioles, made history as it was the first time four teams finished with at least 90 victories a year after finishing under .500.