Last season, when Dusty Baker and the Houston Astros took home the World Series championship, it was more than the franchise’s first title since 2017. It was a clearing of a dark cloud and cleansing of a reputation.
Baker was not the manager of the 2017 team that was caught in a cheating scandal that rocked the sport and stained championship history. Instead, his leadership brought back a reasonable level of respect for the franchise. Baker also became just the third Black manager in MLB history to win a World Series—Cito Gaston (Toronto Blue Jays) and Dave Roberts (Los Angeles Dodgers) being the others.
Now a prevailing question is how does the 74-year-old Baker’s resume stack up in the annals of MLB history if the Astros win the World Series again? Will another title elevate him into the conversation of the greatest managers of all time?
Based on what has happened throughout the course of this season and the latest of current events, if the MLBbro manager does pull it off, it would be content for a reality series.
Baker has been criticized heavily for peculiar lineups, most recently for not playing one of the Astros’ top players, center fielder Chas McCormick, due to a lack of consistency and weight concerns. Baker addressed the issue earlier this month.
“As far as my not liking Chas, I don’t understand where that’s coming from at all,” Baker said to Sports Illustrated. “It’s caused kind of a (expletive) out there which is unnecessary, totally unnecessary. It seems like if somebody has something against me, they ought to use it against me and not use my players against me. That is so wrong.
“As far as Chas not playing, you can ask Chas,” Baker continued. “I told him before he got hurt ‘Chas you can have this job if you want it. I’m not going to give it to you but if you want this job you can take it.’ Then he got hurt. He was out for 20 days. Twenty days. Imagine how many more at-bats he’d have then…
“I take care of my guys, and I appreciate it if people would stop trying to help me manage because I think I know what I’m doing,” Baker emphasized. “I take care of my players the same way they take care of me.”
To his credit, McCormick has not added fuel to the fire. He’s been a professional and plays when he’s called upon.
“Right now, we’re OK. It’s really all about winning each game here on out [with] no distractions. We’re good,” McCormick said.
Houston was 84-68 and in first place in the American League West when they faced the Baltimore Orioles on the road yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon. The Astros were .5 games ahead of the second place Texas Rangers (83-68).
Baker has had to deal with a plethora of challenges this season, including injuries to star players, a revolving door of pitchers and leaks of internal team matters to the media.
If the Astros win the division or earn a wildcard spot, Baker will be entering the postseason with an expiring contract for the third year in a row after signing a one-year extension in November. With contract negotiations likely to start at the end of the season, it is arguably the most tenuous of situations for any manager with as successful a run as Baker has had with the Astros.
Regardless of what the future holds, Baker has been one of baseball’s most significant figures over the past four decades. He has been a prominent voice in pointing out the lack of diversity in the sport, and staunch advocate for more opportunities for Blacks as managers and in executive roles.
He has proven to be one of the game’s best leaders on and off the field.