Review: Why Dusty Baker’s win was so sweet

Editor’s note: Terence Moore is a national sports columnist and commentator based in Atlanta. CNN sports contributor and visiting professor of journalism at Miami University in Ohio. Follow him on Twitter @TMooresports and subscribe to his YouTube channel. The opinions expressed in this comment are his own. Read more reviews on CNN.


Before the 2022 World Series, I sent a text to someone I’ve worked with for 45 years as a sports reporter, first as a Major League Baseball player, then as a coach and manager. Over the years, the relationship has turned into a friendship.

My text read, “Go Astros! I won’t be physically at the World Series, but I will be there mentally and spiritually cheering on Dusty Baker, along with all other like-minded people.”

Answer? “Thank you brother. Full of dust”.

No thanks you, Full of dust You are an icon, with your forever toothpick in your mouth and bracelets on both arms, oozing charisma with just your breath.

With your Astros’ 4-1 win Saturday night at Minute Maid Park in Houston, you wrapped up this World Series in Game 6 against the Philadelphia Phillies, and showed over the years (and years and years) that the answer to those who struggle is perseverance. .

And you proved that a team can win when led by a leader with a positive attitude and humor, and maybe with the help of a great bullpen, great defense and a slugger like Yordan Alvarez, hitting pitches to the other side of the sun. the system

In reality, Alvarez’s three-run homer in the sixth inning traveled only 450 yards over the giant structure behind the center field fence, known as the “eye of the bat.” That pushed the Astros from a 1-0 deficit to a 3-1 lead en route to Baker’s first world championship in his 25th season as a major league manager.

No manager in baseball history had won as many games (2,093) as the 73-year-old perennial optimist, but until Saturday’s victory, Baker had never earned a World Series ring.

He is the only manager to have led five different teams to back-to-back division titles: the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals and Astros. Most of those Baker-led teams ended the postseason in disaster. The worst was 2002, when Baker’s Giants took a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the 7th in Game 6 of the best-of-seven World Series against the Anaheim Angels, but somehow the Giants didn’t win the championship.

But this time, Baker was standing with others in the Astros organization over the win, with the fans still cheering, when someone asked Baker over the PA system if everything had hit yet.

“Oh, that felt good,” said the oldest manager to win a World Series, his face lighting up with an infectious smile. “That ball that Alvarez (Alvarez) hit over the moon hit me as soon as it hit the moon over there. Then it happened to me.”

Baker is a devout Christian, and surely knows that the Bible is full of verses that counsel patience. When he signed his first Major League contract to play the outfield for the Atlanta Braves in 1967, Hank Aaron was officially inducted by future Baseball Hall of Famers.

Among other things, Aaron asked Baker to attend church regularly, eat well and never do anything as a high-profile black man. Baker told them in the foreword to my book, “The Real Hank Aaron: An Intimate Look at the Life and Legacy of the Home Run King,” published earlier this year.

The late Aaron would have been proud of Baker, and so would his parents, Johnnie Baker Sr. and Christine Baker.

“My mom and dad taught me perseverance and that you have to believe in yourself,” Baker told Fox Sports after the game.

In 2017, the Astros won their only other World Series — an accomplishment marred by a sign-stealing scandal. Major League Baseball officials slapped the franchise with a $5 million fine two years later and stripped them of the draft. The Astros tried to clean up their front office and clubhouse afterward. As part of that effort, they hired Baker, who went from leading the Astros to the American League Championship Series in his first season to a second-place finish in last year’s World Series — a ring that wasn’t tainted.

Baker reflected on his fans before the World Series (including a fellow sports reporter), saying, “Everywhere I go, there were people of color, and people of color. Hey, man. We’re all family.”

Yes we are.

He just sent another text to Bac: “Congratulations! Finally!”