If there was a time for the stench of cheating to come off the Houston Astros only World Series title then the time appears to be right now.
Dusty Revives The Integrity
Nearly five years removed from the elation and embarrassment that fell onto the Houston Astros organization after being outed by Major League Baseball for creating an unfair competitive advantage during the 2017 World Series by cheating, the Astros find themselves poised for another run at baseball’s biggest prize.
The American League West division champs have flown under the radar while excelling under the steady, cool leadership of Dusty Baker for the last two seasons.
All Baker has done is restore the credibility of an organization that simply went rogue to win the world championship.
He came in and put them in a position to win another one, guiding them to the playoffs in the pandemic shortened season in 2020 and running it back this season.
Kevlar In The Dugout
Baker has been the kevlar which has protected the team and the franchise with the same understated brilliance that marked his career as a player.
Behind his cool demeanor there is the fight of a warrior and the heart of a champion.
Those are attributes that helped him lead the San Francisco Giants to the 2002 World Series and his Chicago Cubs team teased the fans on the north side of Chicago in 2003.
Baker has massaged complex personalities such as Barry Bonds, while dealing with the character assaults and PED suspicions that followed Bonds as he was breaking baseball’s all-time home run mark.
He helped end the myth that fans would only show up at Wrigley Field to have a good time and watch the Cubs flop, by vaccinating them from a disease call losing. He’s also never threatened Steve Bartman, so Dusty is also a gentleman.
Still he’s underappreciated, and the question remains why?
All Baker has done is win everything but win the big one. Heading into this postseason it would appear that it’s the only thing keeping him out of the conversation of greatest skippers of all-time. He’ll surely make the Hall of Fame without a ring as a manager.
Hall of Fame Worthy
His critics still question his acumen after decades of success, regarding in game strategy and how he works his bullpen, especially during the postseason.
That’s why his contract apparently wasn’t renewed in D.C. and Davey Martinez was handed a championship team that was groomed for its magical run by players who had been under Baker’s stewardship.
The Astros haven’t re-signed him for next season so it appears he may be managing for his baseball life.
"That was the hardest but greatest year ever for me."
— MLB (@MLB) October 1, 2021
Davey Johnson and Billy Martin have managed four different teams to the playoffs while Tony LaRussa – his foil in the AL Division Series – has managed three with this year being his second time around with the Chicago White Sox.
All that separates Baker and his 1983 career wins from them on the credible reverence meter is a World Series ring.
At 71, and having said that Houston was the last stop on his fantastic voyage, this may be the final chance for Dusty to join fellow MLBbro managers Cito Gaston and Dave Roberts as the only Black Knights of managing to win the World Series.