CHICAGO -- Reds manager Dusty Baker attended Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night at the United Center, and it had an impact on his perspective of his own team and his sport's championship.
"It really gives me the motivation to get to the World Series," Baker said. "You see the energy, you see the precision. I'm impressed by the skating ability and the precision of those guys, the hockey players. The speed of the game, the speed of the puck."
Cincinnati doesn't have a hockey team (the Blue Jackets play in Columbus, Ohio), so Baker's fanhood for the Chicago Blackhawks -- who beat the Boston Bruins in triple-overtime on Wednesday -- has carried over from when he managed the Cubs from 2003-06. Baker said his son even regularly wears the jersey of Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.
"I left after regulation, beat the crowd, went home and watched the rest of it on TV," Baker said. "I missed like one minute of overtime. Then I tried to stay awake to see the end of it, and I was just about to turn it off and find out who won on SportsCenter when they scored the goal."
Baker said he took outfielder Donald Lutz with him, and came away with an even better understanding of the game, and greater appreciation for a sport that's much different from baseball.
"I'm asking them, 'Why is that a penalty? What'd he do wrong right there?' They crash into the wall with somebody, and I'm like, 'Man, that ought be a penalty,'" Baker said. "It was fun, though, I'll say that. Man, it was fun."