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Eight years after Great American Ball Park opened, the home clubhouse was about to get soaked for the first time.
"There's nothing like it," said Bruce, receiving eye-stinging sprays from bottles of champagne and 24-ounce cans of beer.
Across the clubhouse, owner Bob Castellini cradled a box of cigars in his left arm and a bottle of champagne in his right hand, blinking away errant drops of spray.
"We're not finished, but it doesn't get any better than this," Castellini said.
It was an emotional night for Baker, who won his fourth division championship as a manager.
He joined Bill McKechnie as the only managers to take three NL teams to the playoffs. Nine have taken three different teams to the playoffs overall -- McKechnie, Johnson, Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Billy Martin, Lou Piniella, Joe Torre and Dick Williams also did it.
Baker's father, Johnnie, died last November after a long illness and was never far from his mind on Tuesday.
"It's really special for me this year because I think about my dad a lot," he said. "Last year was very difficult. Every midnight call I got I thought was about my dad. He wasn't supposed to live past the All-Star break, then he wasn't supposed to live until August, then he wasn't supposed to live until September. He lasted until I got home.
"So I just knew when the season started that my dad was with me big-time."
The Reds won't be a postseason favorite, given their inexperience and their struggles against other top teams. They've gone 58-28 against losing teams, only 30-41 against those with .500 or better records.
For them, just getting there was a soppy breakthrough.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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