The Houston Astros bats woke up on Wednesday night and they’ve evened the World Series against the Braves at 1-1.
“They knew that we needed that game,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “The difference between this group and some of the others I’ve had is the fact that this group is always looking for something good to happen…They expect it.”
For Baker this is his second trip to the Fall Classic. He guided the San Francisco Giants there 19 years ago.
Baker has been an excellent manager at every stop. He managed the Cubs to a division title and within a win of a pennant. He took the Reds and Nationals to first-place finishes. Five of Baker’s last eight seasons have ended with his team winning their division.
He is one of only nine managers to win a pennant in both the American and National leagues.
Dusty Baker joins an elite group with tonight's win. pic.twitter.com/rVcnK04JIt
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) October 23, 2021
Simply put, he makes teams better. It’s an undeniable fact.
He also has the most wins (1,987) of any manager without a World Series title.
A win with the Astros in this World Series would be especially sweet for Baker. He’s 12th all-time in managerial wins and a title would likely cement his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
But possibly winning it all with the Astros would be special. The Astros are the league’s resident supervillains, thanks to the cheating scandal. Baker was brought in to clean up the mess and be a human shield as people moralized the ills of cheating.
He did that and more, as they’re back in the World Series, and Baker is as big a reason as any.
“When you can identify with the people that you’re with, no matter what age they are, it’s easier to get along and identify the struggles that they’re going through,” BAKER SAID. “And like I said, I feel very fortunate to have this group of guys and to be in this position.”
Then, of course, there is the fact that if Baker wins the title, he would become only the third Black manager in MLB history to win a World Series.
Dave Roberts won it last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, joining Cito Gaston, who led the Toronto Blue Jays to back-to-back titles in 1992 and 1993.
In a sport that has had trouble connecting with the Black community, this would be significant.
In an era where baseball is often defined by spreadsheets, probability, and analytics, Baker is a throwback, preferring instead to follow his “gut” and almost 30 years of managerial experience.
Although he has softened on analytics over the years, he blends the numbers with his feel for the game.
Baker has outmaneuvered some of the best managers in the game in Tony La Russa and Alex Cora this postseason. Further solidifying that he himself is one of the all-time best.
He is three wins away from finishing the job and claiming the one thing missing from his Hall of Fame managerial résumé. This is his moment.