For the third time in the last five years, the Houston Astros will play in the World Series. For manager Dusty Baker, it’s his first World Series since 2002. He’s 13 victories away from 2,000 regular season wins as a manager, but doesn’t have a championship to show for it.
That could change in the next few weeks as the Astros will play either the Braves (the team who drafted him in 1967) or the Dodgers (the team he won a World Series with as a player in 1981) in the Fall Classic. Baker was hired to manage Houston in January 2020 following A.J. Hinch’s dismissal as a result of the Astros sign stealing scandal investigation.
It’s easy to forget that Baker was a finalist for the Phillies job just a few months earlier. When Gabe Kapler was fired, the Phillies made it known that they were looking for a manager with extensive major league experience. Baker, Joe Girardi and Buck Showalter were the three known finalists for the job.
Baker was invited back to town for a second round of interviews, but the Phillies hired Girardi. Following the Astros’ series-clinching victory in Game 6, Baker reflected on his journey and mentioned getting rejected by the Phillies.
“At the beginning of this journey, you know, I didn’t even have a job, and I interviewed with the Phillies,” Baker said in his press conference after Game 6 of the ALCS. “They went with Joe Girardi. And then my son told me in his infinite wisdom, he goes, ‘Dad, maybe that job wasn’t yours, and this is a better job.’ I hate that A.J. Hinch lost his job in the manner that he did, but I inherited a good team, much like Sparky Anderson inherited the Big Red Machine.”
Baker referenced his son Darren, a 22-year-old prospect in the Washington Nationals organization. In a profile on Baker for The Athletic, Claire Smith went into detail on how Darren helped Dusty get through his disappointment after missing out on the job in Philadelphia.
“He said perhaps I wasn’t supposed to have that opportunity, that perhaps it wasn’t the best place for me,” Baker told Smith. “I mean, that’s my son telling me what I’ve always believed, that maybe I have to wait to be where I was meant to be. That’s my son, with his beautiful knowledge and wisdom. He said maybe God’s got a better job, a better plan for me. A week later I was called by the Astros.”
In two seasons with Houston, Baker’s Astros made deep postseason runs. The offense had the second-highest OPS in baseball during the regular season in 2021 and the starting rotation recorded the fifth-lowest ERA in the majors. From top to bottom, the Astros have a much better roster than the Phillies. It’s hard to say whether or not the Phillies would be a better team with Baker at the helm as opposed to Girardi, but it is obvious that Baker was ultimately put in a better situation to succeed in Houston.
Many around baseball still detest the Astros for the 2017 sign stealing scandal, but there are plenty who are also rooting for Baker to get his first World Series ring as a manager. His former player Bryce Harper is one of them.
“I mean, he’s done so much for this game as a manager and as a player as well,” Harper told Smith before the end of the regular season. “Of course he wants that ring so bad, and I think that’s why he keeps going back to the game. Most of all, though, he just wants his teams to have success. He’s been so close so many times. He’s had an opportunity. The teams just haven’t been able to do it. We’ve all wanted it for him. He’s such a great manager, he deserves it. As an opposing player, if we’re not there, I’ll definitely be rooting for Dusty.”
MORE FROM PHILLIES NATION
- Bryce Harper’s Top 5 Home Runs Of 2021
- Dodgers ‘Opener’ Corey Knebel Could Be A Fit For The Phillies
- Trevor Story Might Be Best Big-Ticket Target For Phillies This Winter
- Preston Mattingly Is Inheriting A Mess. Can He Turn Around The Farm System Before It’s Too Late?
- J.T. Realmuto Could Have Been A Pro Athlete In Many Sports, According To His Former Coaches
- MLB Trade Rumors Releases Arbitration Projections For 9 Phillies
- Phillies Nation Top 20 Prospects: September 2021
- The Phillies Will Once Again Look Elsewhere For A Closer
- Bryce Harper Isn’t Worried About Wasting His Prime In Philadelphia
- Phillies 2021 Walk-Up Songs