Monday, October 23, 2017

Did Dusty Baker Deserve to Get Fired...Again?

Dusty Baker was fired as manager of the Washington Nationals two days ago. It was Baker's fourth managerial position, the tenures of which span 22 years. The Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, and the Cincinnati Reds all fired him too.

Baseball Hall of Fame writer Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News, thinks that Baker is, once again, getting the shaft.

I'm inclined to agree with him.

The rap on Baker used to be that he wore out young pitchers' arms, something that could hardly be said of him in Washington, where he and the Nationals franchise seemed to baby Stephen Strasburg.

I'm neither a Baker defender nor detractor. But he has had a lot of success in 22 years. He has a lifetime .532 win percentage.

On the face of it, that might not seem overwhelming, but he's gone to four franchises that were in rebuilding mode and on each stop, he achieved success.

By way of comparison, Sparky Anderson, who won at Cincinnati and Detroit and is covered in glory, had a .545 lifetime win percentage, not that much higher than Baker's. Joe Torre, one-time Yankees manager (who also managed the Mets, Braves, and Cardinals) was .538.

The difference between Baker and those managers is that he hasn't won a World Series. Very few managers or players ever do, of course. But that seems beside the point to Washington's ownership or, according to McCoy, many other owners these days.

The Nationals organization, formerly the Montreal Expos, has been a largely hapless franchise through the years. Baker managed them to two consecutive appearances in the post-season after 97- and 95-win regular season campaigns. But ownership obviously decided that their talent-rich roster should have been in or won this year's World Series.

According to USA Today, Baker stayed in Washington nine days before heading to his off-season home in California. He waited so that he could sign a new contract with the Nats. That didn't happen, but when he left DC, he still seemed certain that he would be re-signed. After he left town, he was notified that his services would no longer be needed.

It's a cliche to say it, yet I think it's true: It's a lot easier to fire a manager than it is to get rid of players. Baker seems to be a casualty of that fact.

On the other hand, I may not have any idea what I'm talking about.

[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

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