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."
After day off, Frazier regains power stroke
CHICAGO -- Todd Frazier suspected this power surge was coming. The third baseman got a day off on Monday, and was asked by his manager to study pitchers and their release points, thinking it would help Frazier discover some of the power that had been missing for the last month or so.
"He's a good student," Dusty Baker said. "And he studied, and he then applied it."
After going without a homer since April 24, Frazier went yard in back-to-back games, including a go-ahead solo shot in Wednesday's 2-1 win. He has nine RBIs in 12 games against the Cubs this year, and went 1-for-3 with a walk in Thursday's 6-5 loss in 14 innings. But he knew the drought was growing longer as the team traveled to Wrigley Field this week.
"I knew it was gonna turn around," Frazier said. "It's gonna turn around. … I'm trying to get some hits, trying to help the team. Do I want to hit home runs? Of course. But at the same time, I'm trying to get my average up and we're trying to win. I know at the end of the year, I'm going to have my numbers.
"It felt really good, and now it's time to keep taking off."
Frazier said he tried to pick up pitches in the dugout with hitting coach Brook Jacoby, trying to figure out what the pitcher was throwing.
"I don't think he missed one," Frazier said. "I was trying to pick it up and he finally told me. We've got smart coaches here. The staff knows what they're talking about."
Frazier has eight homers and 36 RBIs through 63 games, after hitting 19 and driving in 67 in 128 games last season, and finishing third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting.
• Baker said he understands what Cubs manager Dale Sveum is going through, as Sveum tries to jump-start the Chicago offense.
"Oh yeah, I've been through it," Baker said. "Any manager that's been around has been through it. Everybody's like, shake up the lineup. You shake it up, you've still got the same stuff. … It's very frustrating. You're not sleeping much. You're trying to figure out something that you've already figured, and it's hard to accept, that maybe you're not good. Sometimes you're not good. You've got some good players but you might not be good overall."
• The Reds had a 12-game winning streak at Wrigley entering Thursday, a record for an opponent the ballpark. The last Major League team to win 12 straight games at an opponent's park was when the Phillies beat the Padres 13 in a row at Petco Park from Aug. 17, 2008-April 20, 2012.
• This year's Reds team is the fastest to reach 40 wins (in 66 games) to start the season since the 1995 club, which won its 40th in the 63rd game of the year. That team went on to win the division and lost in the NLCS.