PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – There is only one thing that Dusty Baker needs to do in order to statistically cement his legacy as one of the greatest managers the game has ever seen: win a World Series. He’s already established his value among the greatest skippers, and he’s said time and again that a World Series win would be sweet, but it doesn’t make or break his legacy or his feelings about an illustrious career that has lasted decades.
After pulling off a 3-2 win against the New York Yankees in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, the Astros have a commanding 2-0 series lead heading to the Bronx. Now they are only two wins from returning to the Fall Classic, which would be their fourth time in six years.
If the Astros hold on and win this series, it will be Baker’s third World Series appearance in his managerial career, with this season being the second straight crack at a ring. Baker has done everything you can ask a manager to do. He has led five different teams to division titles, he is only one of nine managers to win pennants in both leagues, one of 12 to have at least 2,000 managerial wins, and has won the manager of the year in the NL three times.
His influence on the culture and spot in Cooperstown is secured when he decides to call it quits, but the ring is still vital to his resumé so that his career can be kept in proper historical perspective moving forward.
When people argue who the greatest of all-time is, not just for best MLB manager, but for participants in any pro sport, the ones who are always in that conversation all have rings, because at the end of the day, championships are the number one thing anyone looks at over any statistic.
Of course, there are plenty of all-time greats that have never won it all, but they are never considered to be the greatest since they were never able to help bring a team to the promised land. So that is the historical conundrum that Dusty Baker finds himself in right now.
Baker definitely will be considered an all-time great, but he will not be a contender for greatest of all time.
If there was any team that could finally help Baker get over that edge, it would be the 2022 Houston Astros. They are playing a Yankees team that had a very underachieving second half of the season, and the Astros are in command of the series. If the Stros do advance, then they would face a sub-90-win NL pennant winner and would be huge favorites in that series.
But all of what happened in the regular season does not matter. The teams that are successful in October are the ones who are hot at the right time. But the best part for Baker is, he’s not leading a team that’s just hot, he’s leading a team that is absolutely scorching, as they have not lost in this postseason yet.
If he just wins one championship, just one, whether it is with the Astros, or another team in the future, then he will get his seat at that exclusive table of the greatest managers of all time. If he doesn’t, he’ll have to settle for being a living legend whose contributions to the game and baseball culture are equaled by few, if any.