HOUSTON – As many of the Houston Astros celebrated their World Series championship at Minute Mead Park on Saturday night, there was little, if any, celebration near the home dugout. It was where the coaches and players piled on manager Dusty Baker, who won his first World Series championship in 30 years with a 4-1 Game 6 win over the Phillies.
In the end, the winning equation was simple: Framber Valdez threw six dominant innings. Jordan Alvarez hit a three-run homer in the sixth to give the Astros the lead. Their supremacy is bullshit. Perhaps, after all that, Baker had already weathered the rough patch.
The Astros ended a remarkable two-game postseason streak on their way to their second title in six years — the first of which forced them to purge their coaching staff after a sign-stealing scandal. They want a manager who can weather the storms of succession that may come. . . . Jeremy Pena, He had 10 hits and three RBI in 25 at-batsHe was the first starting position player to be named World Series MVP.
Whether this victory is worthy of redemption The Astros’ 2017 title It’s a question for the collective baseball consciousness, which can rarely agree on much. But one thing he does agree on is Baker, a beloved presence around the sport. He is not a perfect manager. He’s not a perfect man, something he’s brought up many times since taking up his position here. The Astros say they made a mistake. But everyone who cheers them on has it, too.
Fortunately, baseball does not reward perfection. It rewards persistence. It brings out the truth. And the truth about Baker, three decades into his managerial career, is that few people in this game are more universally respected — consistently, relentlessly, graciously.
While the rest of the industry flocked to him, Baker trained himself not to seek a title. It was agreed with a legacy that did not include; He doesn’t make anyone feel like a failure, not with 2,093 regular-season wins to his name — ninth all-time, trailing only Hall of Famers.
But he didn’t take on new jobs again and again, to put himself in a position to be fired, to answer questions for every decision, it is said that he does not have enough analysis to control this information-driven period. No, Baker always felt that fate had a role in it, that something bigger was at work. And for years he left hoping that whatever had happened would eventually lead him here. Baker became the oldest manager to win a World Series title at age 73 when Kyle Tucker hit the final out on Saturday night.
Baker hasn’t been on the brink of such a title in 20 years. The Astros never won a title last season. But on Saturday he did his usual routine of shaking hands with friends and celebrities, adding country star George Strait to his long list of famous friends. He was leaning on the mound during the Astros’ batting practice, and as usual, many people started making their way to support him.
And he admits to having feelings. He looked nervous at times in his pregame news conference. At other times, such as when he described the support he felt from African Americans around Houston and the sport, when he talked about his role as the most famous black manager in baseball history, he never questioned it.
He spoke about the souls before him. Each season, he’s seen friends and loved ones leave, young men have left the sport or died, he’s seen the game go through a period where he sometimes thinks it has no place. Before this postseason, Baker estimated he had “10 to 12 more years” left, and he meant not just in the sport, but on Earth. He was never far from mortality. But he never let the dream of the World Series die.
His son Darren was a 3-year-old Batboy when he first got this opportunity, too young to know what was going on, much less for Giants first baseman JT Snow. To get out of harm’s way In one of the most iconic images of recent baseball history. Darren was there on Saturday, just long enough to take part in the champagne celebration – long enough to know exactly how much this is.
Baker started hunting for the title before Darren was even born. He learned 10 years before reaching his first World Series. That was 20 years ago, when Baker wondered if his decision to pull starter Russ Ortiz in the decisive Game 6 was his World Series legacy. The Giants’ bullpen couldn’t hold the lead Baker gave him.
Valdez was born a few weeks after Baker completed his first season as manager in 1993. Baker might not have the title without him. The left-hander entered Saturday’s start having allowed three total earned runs in three postseason starts this year. He left Saturday after allowing four earned runs in four postseason starts this year. At one point, he hit the first five batters in a row in the Phillies’ order, the second lefty in World Series history to do so. Another was a man named Sandy Koufax.
But Phillies starter Zach Wheeler matched him every step of the way. Both entered the fifth without allowing a runner to advance to third, let alone score. In fact, it was Valdez who flashed first when he allowed a no-doubt homer to Kyle Schwarber in the sixth. Then the Astros put two men on in the bottom of the inning. It was now Rob Thomson, who had to decide how best to lead In a potentially crucial World Series game — stick with Wheeler, who has been dominant, or go to high relief and cross his fingers.
And it was Thompson who was left wondering what could have been for years to come, as the first batter Jose Alvarado faced was Jordan Alvarez. Alvarez hit a three-run homer 450 feet to center field. Baker had nine outs.
As Alvarez returned to the dugout, Baker dropped far short of home plate. Alvarez made his way down, climbed the stairs, and shared a high-five with Baker that might have been harder than either man had ever shared in his life. Legend has it that Baker invented that move when he played. A bakery’s life has never been short on legend. In fact, most of it wasn’t short — save a World Series win as a manager.
The curse got his promising Cubs in the 2003 NLCS. His Reds weren’t complete enough. The Nationals twice pushed the division series streak to five games on the clock, but either hit or made a play or both.
For the second time in 2017, ownership did not sign a contract extension before the game. later In the 5th game, the national team lostHe waited a few days to finalize the deal. It didn’t happen. So he flew to California, thinking it would be there instead. The phone rang. It is not a contract. And so, at age 70, he found himself out of a job, torn from the team he thought would finally get him the title he wanted. Two years later, one of his friends, Dave Martinez, Instead, lead them to him.
A week ago, Nationals owner Mark Lerner called to congratulate him, to wish him well. This is Baker’s experience in a sport he loves, until it’s respected, sidelined by the demands of a changing sport. But that dynamic has given the Astros one last complicated opportunity as they look for a fresh start. And as fate would have it, that last chance is one of the most successful organizations in the sport. If the citizens hadn’t fired him, if the scandal had never happened… well, Baker learned a long time ago that what he wants isn’t always what he gets, nor is it always what he wants.
But on Saturday, Baker got the title he wanted, the one he said everyone needed. The mission that consumed most of the latter’s adult life was complete. But Baker always insisted that if he won one World Series, he would win two. After all this, he will be happy to have the opportunity to test his theory.