Dusty Baker eventually gets his World Series celebration after 2,144 wins.

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By Creative Media News

Even if a toothpick is performing somersaults in your mouth, you can have a smile as wide as a Texas highway.

Dusty Baker has chewed minty sticks as a healthier alternative to chewing tobacco for the majority of his illustrious managerial career, led teams to the postseason, but has not won the World Series. You can now eliminate that last sentence.

Baker has been one of baseball’s most popular people for decades, which was a major factor in his hiring by baseball’s least popular franchise. However, his management career was notable more for the absence of a single accomplishment than for his many triumphs.

Dusty baker eventually gets his world series celebration after 2,144 wins.
Dusty baker eventually gets his world series celebration after 2,144 wins.

Now no longer Saturday’s 4-1 triumph against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Six clinched a 4-2 World Series victory for the Houston Astros over the Philadelphia Phillies, and he bounded up the dugout steps at Minute Maid Park to join the on-field celebrations.

The retirement of Tony La Russa makes Baker, who is 73 years old, the oldest manager in the big leagues and the oldest manager to ever win the World Series. This was his 12th playoff appearance as a manager and sixth consecutive appearance (with the Cincinnati Reds in 2012-13, Washington Nationals in 2016-17, and Astros in 2020-22).

Nonetheless, he is regarded as a tragicomic protagonist: a victim of ill luck and terrible decisions, a kind guy who comes in second place. This story dates back twenty years when Baker’s San Francisco Giants were eight outs away from winning their first World Series since moving to the Bay Area.

Dusty baker
Dusty baker eventually gets his world series celebration after 2,144 wins.

He removed the outstanding pitcher Russ Ortiz with a 5-0 lead in the seventh inning, and the Giants blundered and lost 6-5 to the Anaheim Angels, who subsequently won Game Seven to clinch the championship. Ortiz had just surrendered back-to-back doubles and thrown 98 pitches; yet, Baker was blamed and his contract was not renewed.

As Ortiz went off the mound, Baker handed him the ball as a souvenir. This act of compassion was later misconstrued as an act of contempt that fueled Anaheim’s anger, but, as NBC Sports noted in 2020, no one at the time seemed to believe so.

In the 2003 National League Championship Series, the Chicago Cubs were on the verge of defeating the Florida Marlins until a fan named Steve Bartman interfered with a potential catch. Baker demonstrated his characteristic empathy for Bartman, who went into hiding and required police protection.

Last season, the Astros advanced to the World Series and had a better-looking roster, but they were defeated by the Atlanta Braves, who completed a 4-2 series victory with a humiliating 7-0 victory in Houston.

Thus, there was a certain theatrical neatness, an ironic closing of the circle, in how Saturday’s match was decided: the opposing manager made a questionable call. In the sixth inning, with the visitors leading 1-0, Rob Thomson withdrew his ace, Zack Wheeler, who had only allowed three hits and thrown 70 pitches.

Yordan lvarez promptly launched his first home run in 42 at-bats against José Alvarado, a three-run, 450-foot Tyrannosaurus-sized blast. The Phillies’ enthusiasm was shattered as the Astros scored another run in front of a boisterous but agitated crowd.

Even the Phillies’ power hitter Kyle Schwarber, who had given his team the lead with a home run against the otherwise great starting pitcher Framber Valdez, was discombobulated enough to attempt a bunt with two strikes and no one on base. So the Astros became the first club to clinch on home soil since the 2013 Boston Red Sox, while Philadelphia missed out on two trophies in one night as the Philadelphia Union was defeated in the MLS Cup final on penalties.

Baker, who was born in California and survived prostate cancer and a mini-stroke in 2012, appeared in three World Series as a player, winning in 1981 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Over the course of 19 years and 2,039 games as an outfielder, he made his Atlanta debut in 1968. The Astros are his fifth team since beginning his managerial career with the Giants in 1993.

He now ranks fourth all-time with 51 postseason victories, behind Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, and La Russa. He is the third African-American manager to win the World Series, following Dave Roberts in 2020 and Cito Gaston in 1992-93, and he did so in a championship game in which neither club had any US-born Black players for the first time since 1950. “Many people were pushing for me,” Baker told reporters, “, particularly people of color.” I certainly feel this aspect. I hear this daily.”

After losing the Phillies job to Joe Girardi, Baker was hired to succeed AJ Hinch in Houston in January 2020. Hinch was fired in the wake of the sign-stealing controversy that erupted in late 2019, tarnishing their 2017 World Series victory and ensuring that their persistent greatness draws as much anger and mistrust as it does respect and adoration outside of this region of Texas.

Baker believed his management career was done before the Astros contacted him. He told the New York Times in 2020, two years after being sacked by Washington, “I didn’t even receive a phone call.”

Baker noted that he inherited a fairly strong team. A team that lost shortstop Carlos Correa to free agency this year replaced him with Jeremy Pea, a rookie who was awarded World Series Most Valuable Player. Álvarez and Kyle Tucker have blossomed. And Justin Verlander, who will age 40 in February and missed the entirety of 2021 due to Tommy John surgery, finally won when it mattered, breaking a bizarre World Series losing run with a Game Five victory.

Three seasons with at least 106 defeats between 2011 and 2013 afforded Houston the financial flexibility and good draught picks necessary for future success. Then they preserved it through rigorous and technologically smart scouting and development. And recruiting Baker has proven to be both an on-field masterstroke and a savvy PR move for a tarnished brand. Individuals are motivated by his support, which is as generous and astute as that of your favorite high school teacher.

With 2,093 regular-season victories, he is not lacking in experience, but he appears to be something of a throwback in an era when baseball is enamored with analytics and places a premium on cold data over gut instincts. Saturday night, he stated, “I feel like I’ve been picked for this.”

Still, it would be an exaggeration to claim that Baker has rebuilt Houston’s reputation: among opposing fans, hatred of the Astros appears to be an everlasting commodity. This could be because some of the players were remarkably unrepentant about the cheating scheme. In addition, their continued success has left the baseball world with little room for a deliberate detachment from José Altuve and company.

With the club in its fourth World Series in six seasons after six consecutive trips in the American League Championship Series, this Astros team seems connected to the 2017 vintage, even though only five players remain from that squad. If, for example, the New York Yankees were in the midst of such an impressive run, the term “dynasty” would be utilized more frequently.

“I’m exhausted by hearing it. “He does neither of these things,” the statement reads. Baker stated in the Fox post-game broadcast, “I only heard what I cannot accomplish.” “However, my parents taught me tenacity. And you must persevere and have faith in yourself.”

He is no longer under contract. What’s next, pondered an interviewer on a hastily erected infield dais after the smoke from the fireworks had cleared and confetti fluttered over the diamond like a swarm of fireflies? Baker grinned, “It’s a party!” No one in Houston intended to inquire about this call.

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