"And All Our Yesterdays Have Lighted Fools the Way to Dusty Death"
Dusty Baker's two weeks in limbo finally ended yesterday as the San Francisco Giants announced that he would not return to manage the team in 2003 just before his contract was set to expire. It comes as no surprise, but it leaves me wondering how it all got to this point. The relationship between the Giants and Baker has detriorated more as the team's success has grown apparently. As I'm sure you heard, "Baker became the first manager in nearly three decades to leave a team right after reaching the World Series."
So where does that leave Baker? The Mariners have reduced their list down to four finalists and, sorry, are not accepting new apllicants. Sure, when Jim Riggelman and Buddy Bell are clamouring for a job why go after the manager of the NL champs? For the record, Riggelman is 486-598 (.448 PCT) lifetime as a manger and has had only two winning seasons in seven tries (but one 3-game sweep of a wild card appearance). Bell guided the Rockies to a 6-16 start this year before getting bleeding demised and is 345-462 (.428). He has one winning season (82-80 in 2000) in five full.
The Cubs seem to be awaiting Baker with open arms. It is a step in the right direction for a team that has not had a decent manager since Leo Durocher three decades ago (Zimmer was OK in his time, too.).
But what if the Cubs end up passing on Baker? With the no minority hires in this off-season and a highly qualified candidate available, this would be a real blackeye for baseball. While clubs conduct their token interviews of the Willie Randolphs and Chris Chamblisses, they end up hiring re-hashed, demonstrably inferior (a .428 winning percentage!) candidates who just happen to be white. It seems that baseball has created a glass ceiling for minorities in the sport. But why worry? Baker will certainly be hired by the Cubs. With a reasonable percentage of minorities still in managerial positions baseball need not review its policies and all is white, er, right with the world.