Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Dusty Baker of the Houston Astros are the only two managers of African American descent in Major League Baseball.
Both men are leading their clubhouses and have their squads tied for most wins in the league.
The controversial 5-2 Astros came out the gates on fire, winning four in a row, but winning doesn’t permanently erase the past, as opposing fans find a vindictive joy in jeering the Astros because of their World Series cheating scandal, which was uncovered prior to the 2020 season.
The Astros hired Dusty after firing their manager A.J. Hinch who oversaw the cheating scandal. After a one year suspension, Hinch landed plushly at the helm of the Detroit Tigers. He was able to exit Houston and avoid the backlash that current manager Dusty Baker has to deal with, but Dusty’s experience, unrivaled leadership ability, and winning pedigree is why the Astros hired him in the midst of such a scandal.
He isn’t the 14th-ranked manager on the all-time MLB wins list for nothing. During the season opener in Oakland, fans booed the Astros during intros. During the sixth inning of Monday’s matchup against the Angels, fans took it up a notch by launching an inflatable trash can onto the warning track.
The blatant shenanigans was a dig at the team who infamously banged on cans to tip off opponents’ pitches during the 2019 playoffs. Moments later, fans hurled an actual trash can filled with bottles onto the field to make matters worse.
Baker informed the media of his frustrations with the fans and said that the parents were setting a terrible example for the younger generation.
He told the New York Post, “You can tell the amount of hostility and hatred in the stands.” He added, “We paid the price for it. It’s easy to live in a glasshouse, but I don’t think anybody lives in glass houses. I think sometimes we need to look at ourselves before we spew hate on somebody else.”
Baker, a man known for overcoming obstacles throughout his baseball career, is game for what’s coming his team’s way, and so are the fans.
On the other hand, manager Dave Roberts and his 6-2 Dodgers are cooking with fish grease. The World Champs torched clubs during a five-game winning streak, before eventually falling to the Oakland Athletics in extras.
After overcoming recent playoff letdowns, Roberts captured his first World Series championship last season, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in six games (4-2).
With the victory, he became the first manager of color to win the c’hip since Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston went back to back like Jordan and the Bulls in 1992 and 1993.
Although both managers made history last season, by reaching the championship series, Baker’s Astros fell to the Rays in a grueling 7-game ALCS.
If it weren’t for the pesky Rays defeating the Astros in seven games, Baker and Roberts would have had the first All-Black managerial World Series in baseball history, sparking the interest of Black and brown kids across the nation. Watching the journey of these two former players culminate in a World Series showdown would be a huge win for Black baseball.
Chris Archer wasn’t exactly kicking butts and taking names in his first relief appearance for the Tampa Bay Rays. The 32-year-old veteran gave up 3 runs, 4 hits in two innings of relief. It wasn’t the style of homecoming Archer had imagined.
Chris Archer picks up where he left off with the Pirates. Coming in for relief for TB, Archer gives up 2 runs.
Then again, prior to Spring Training, where he looked fabulous while surrendering just one hit and one run in 6.2 innings pitched, Archer hadn’t pitched in a major league game since August 2019 with the Pirates.
To make matters worse, Archer is a starter, who came in to relieve fellow starter Rich Hill as part of some tandem starter experiment the innovative and sometimes annoying Tampa Bay Rays front office constructed.
It was a tough situation for anyone making his first start in almost two years. Especially a pitcher, as they tend to be very regimented in nature. The good news is that the rotation is expected to return to normal for Archer’s next start, so we will actually ignore his 13.50 ERA right now and see what he does going forward.
Long Road Back To Brilliance
When Archer was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018, he left Tampa Bay one year removed from an All-Star appearance and was still considered an arm on the rise at 29-years of age.
Three years later, after a disastrous, injury-plagued stint, he’s back in Tampa on an incentive-laden, one-year $6.5 million contract, struggling to hang on after 10 years in the show.
The reunion works. The Rays needed to add an arm to their shortened rotation. While Archer needed to turn back the hands of time.
Archer who played with the Rays from 2012 to 2018, missed the 2020 pandemic-shortened season while recovering from surgery to relieve neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome abnormalities. Thoracic outlet syndrome affects the space between the collarbone and first rib (thoracic outlet).
During the recovering process, the two-time all-star also contracted COVID-19 in August while training for his upcoming reunion with the Rays. Besides being stuck in a five-star hotel without a balcony to quarantine, Archer said the virus was not too debilitating.
It took him off the scene for a season, but nothing can hinder his charisma
“It was more the fact that I had to stay in a hotel room. If you own a home, you can go outside and get some Vitamin D which helps with your mood, but I was stuck in a room with no balcony,” Archer explained.
He jokingly added that he was living at the Four Seasons and how it was a five-star hotel but being isolated gives you an appreciation of the small things in life, like sticking your head outside of a window that barely opens.
“You get time to yourself. Either you get distracted, or you can reflect, but there are a lot of things that I can be grateful for,” Archer said.
“It felt good to be back,” said Archer. He added, “I haven’t been healthy and on a mound in a stadium, in that setting, in a long time. So, it was nice.”
When Archer takes the mound for his first start of the 2021 season, it will be for the same manager (Kevin Cash) who traded him in 2018 for current teammates Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and pitching prospect Shane Baz.
Home Is Where The Heat Is
His career has come full circle.
In over 200 career games, Archer is 60-80 with a 3.86 ERA, ranking fourth on Tampa’s career wins list with 54, third in innings pitched with 1,065, second in starts with 177, and second in strikeouts with 1,148.
Archer’s season-high in wins is 12, which came in 2015. The Clayton, North Carolina legend hasn’t had a winning season since, but he’s hoping to change that with the support of the American League champs behind him.
During the transitional phase from Tampa to Pittsburgh and now back to Tampa, new players, coaches and staff have emerged.
“It’s a nice balance as some of the younger guys have some admiration for me, but I have a lot of respect for what these guys have done these last two years,” Archer who went 6-12 in 33 starts with the struggling Pirates said.
He also expressed how good it felt to move around during spring training without GPS as familiarity brings comfortability. Comfortability breeds success and Archer is chilling as he’s returned to the scene of his greatest success, with more left in the tank.
MLB could use the “old” Chris Archer right now. A return to respectability and visibility by the two-time All-Star can help bridge the gap between the mound and the next generation of Black and brown pitchers coming through the pipeline. In Archer, they see a mirror image. Same swag. Same skin tone. Same dream.
It’s the bottom of the 10th inning with runners on first and third. Real deal Akil Baddoo faces a 2-1 pitch count and rips an RBI single to right field to give the Detroit Tigers a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
This has been a week of firsts for the Class A baller who seemed to come out of nowhere, hitting an Easter Sunday homer on the first pitch he saw in his MLB career. The feat landed him in the Tigers history books as the ninth player to go yard in his first career at-bat.
He followed that performance with a two-out Grand Slam against the Twins on Monday afternoon, making Real Deal the only player in franchise history to homer in his first two career games.
After being showered by the team with a Gatorade ice bath, Baddoo, during his post-game press conference, said:
“Always stay ready. Be ready for your shot, be ready to shine and take advantage of it, and that’s what I did.” He added, “I was looking for something off-speed, I got it, and we ended up getting the dub.”
Real Deal Akil entered Tuesdays’ matinee as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the eighth inning. (Don’t ask us why he was on the bench, to begin with) which ultimately landed him in rightfield, where he later ended the game with one swift flick of the wrist.
“He’s been looking forward to these moments for his entire life, and he’s taking the opportunity and running with it,” said A.J. Hinch during the post-game press conference.
Hinch goes on to say, “One of the things we’ve talked about since day one is his maturity, his calmness, and demeanor. There’s so much to like about him in those moments, and clearly, early in his career, he’s showing he can step up pretty big for us.”
After Tuesdays’ heroics, he is the only player with two home runs and a walk-off hit in his first three career games since Clevelands Josh Bard in 2002. He’s also the first Tigers player with a walk-off hit within his first three career games since Gabe Alvarez did it in 1998.
Akil Baddoo hit the ground running with two homers in his first two career starts, including a grand slam on Monday. The unknown prospect has become an overnight sensation for the Detroit Tigers. @carrpediem21 is in the Three Spot today with A Bro You Need To Know. pic.twitter.com/wvxYGkLltT
Baddoo was an unknown prospect that never played above Class A until this season. He spent most of 2020 recovering from Tommy John’s surgery on his left (throwing) elbow, which derailed his 2019 campaign.
While formulating his comeback, Baddoo sought inspiration on film from some of the game’s most notable names, like Ken Griffey Jr, Barry Bonds, and Willie Mays, who are his three favorite players.
If he keeps raking like this, he too could be mentioned amongst the greats one day.
Next for the Tigers is the series finale against the Twins, with the first pitch scheduled for Wednesday at 1:10 p.m.
Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge haven’t been able to stay healthy enough to remain in the lineup together and be the force that the Yankees expected when they paired Stanton (fresh off an MVP and 59-homer season in Miami) with Judge, a phenom who hit 52 bombs to break the MLB rookie record.
2018 was supposed to be the return of Mantle and Maris at Yankee Stadium.
Fast forward three seasons later and Stanton has just seven homers since 2019 and Judge has just 3 homers. There hasn’t been much reason to #ALLRISE. This season, both Black Knights are healthy and looking forward to seeing what type of OD damage they can do together for an extended stretch.
Brandon Carr says Stanton is the man the Yankees can least afford to lose if one of these elite sluggers were to fall out of the loop again.
Akil Baddoo hit the ground running with two homers in his first two career starts, including a grand salami on Monday. The unknown prospect, who never played above Class A Ball, has become an overnight sensation for the Detroit Tigers.