For 24th time as a manager, Houston Astros' Dusty Baker heads home without a title

HOUSTON -- Dusty Baker, a 24 year-old manager in big leagues, recorded the final out in Game 6 of 2021 World Series. Another team won the season's final game.
The Houston Astros' manager then sat down in the dugout to take a moment and jot one more note on the pad. He capitulated his pen and allowed himself to glance up long enough to see the Braves jump into each other's arms. Then he ducked into the tunnel to get to the clubhouse.

He has seen so much that he feels the need to stew in defeat. Even though it was a motivating exercise, watching another team celebrate has lost its appeal.

The manager cannot control so much of what happens during a baseball game. Baker cannot control whether Luis Garcia’s slider to Jorge Soler in third inning backed up towards his bat or behaved as it should. Baker can't get Cristian Javier's fastball from Dansby Swanson to Dansby in the fifth inning down low or away. It traveled over the center plate belt-high and was rudely turned into a two-run homer. He can't force the guys he relied on all season to continue hitting because it's the World Series.

Dusty Baker Jr. is not a believer in the powerless manager theory. He believes in the power of omens. He believes that positive energy can be shared. He believes that baseball teams, just like schools of fish, can learn how to become one by sharing positive energy.

To improve his team's mood, he moves around the dugout. He swears that it works when it does. He ignores it if it doesn't work. He is baseball's dugout sage, and everything he sees in the game is just as real as it is to us.

He said, "I believe in miracles." "I believe in miracles. I have had quite a few of these happen to me. I have some health issues and I'm not sure how I managed to get out of fast cars without getting in an accident. I have had a lot of life issues that made me realize there is someone who can help us.

While he was managing the Giants in 2001, he survived prostate cancer. In 2012, he suffered a stroke while directing the Reds.

Baker has spent 40 days in the desert, but not without his miracles. Baker is the only manager who has taken five teams to the postseason. However, his other World Series team, the 2002 Giants, lost in seven games to the Angels. He used to tell us that his goal as a manager was to be in the Hall of Fame because of his playing career. After 28 years, 24 managerial season and 1,983 wins, his only empty box is a World Series victory.

After Game 6, he stated that "you get over it", as the Braves were smoking cigars and their hair was strewn with metallic confetti. It's not something that other people will let you forget. Other people won't let you get over it."

Baker suggested that Baker might have sensed the presence of people in the room and said, "It is OK. We'll return."

However, there is no guarantee. Baker is currently without a contract and, despite Baker's and management's desire to see it happen, it may not. Baker, a 72-year-old energetic man, is well respected by baseball's bench coach Joe Espada (46). Espada is expected to be ready to manage the Astros in Houston in 2022.

Carlos Correa, Astros shortstop and free agent, said that Dusty should be back. He also expressed hope after the game. He's a great manager and a great person. I loved playing for him. Every moment was special to me."

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BAKER HAS GOED THROUGH A LOT: The manufactured controversy of giving Russ Ortiz a ball in Game 5 in 2002 World Series, and then removing him with a 5-0 lead in Game 5; the NLCS/Bartman fiasco at Chicago; the image rehab he did with the Astros in 2020 after the sign-stealing scandal that cast doubt on their 2017 World Series victory; and the image rehabilitation he performed with the Astros.

This was a clever move. Bring in a well-respected and respected man to deodorize the franchise. It wasn't an easy task. Baker was charged with keeping a talented team from falling into the ashes of vitriol and boos that followed them all across the country. Baker led them to the ALCS last season, one win away from winning the World Series. This year, he won the American League pennant. Baker's value can be measured by his role in giving many reason to root against the Astros. Baker was a human ethical dilemma.

Correa stated, "He's an amazing one." Dusty is the manager but you see him as a friend. That's what I think makes Dusty special. We have his back, he has ours."

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This sentiment is shared beyond the walls of the clubhouse. Baker treated everyone who asked him questions in a news conference, even though he was restricted by COVID-19, during baseball's second consecutive impersonal postseason. Baker gave a squizzical look to a reporter who asked him a late-series question. Baker acknowledged that it was strange, and she replied, "I'm trying get weird with you."

He summoned the wisdom and experience of Sadaharu Oh, a Japanese baseball legend -- just as he has summoned the wisdom and experiences of many philosophers over the years such as actor Scatman Croothers or musician John Coltrane. Baker recalls Oh telling him once, "You need to have the desire to succeed in you heart but the coolness to control your mind."

As you might expect, he can share his unique philosophy. He said that, prior to Game 6, he answered a question regarding the Astros' youth roster by saying, "No matter your age or how young you may be, this is a men's game and you have to play it like one."

The trials started early as Game 6 progressed. Baker reacted angrily to Soler's three run homer that cleared the stadium wall in the third inning, giving the Braves a 3-0 lead. Baker's head bobs, even with a mask on, were easily identifiable as a three-syllable expression of disgust. This was an ongoing theme in a series that had no theme, an expressive man protecting the world with his expressions. Baker spent the majority of the night crouching in the corner in the dugout. His vantage point was three feet above the playing fields, making him a lonely man in a large crowd.

After Swanson's two-run homer in the fifth against Javier, it was 5-0, Baker walked up to the mound. The former ballplayer's light feet are still evident at 72. Baker took the ball and slapped Javier twice. He then flipped it into the air, caught it with his latex gloved hand, and waited for Blake Taylor. Taylor arrived and Baker punched the ball in the glove of the left-hander, then slapped Taylor on the back.

Three batters later, he was back on the field to retrieve Taylor's ball, which had given Freddie Freeman an RBI double, and to give it to Phil Maton. The ceremony of transferring the ball from Taylor to Baker to Maton was much more controlled. There were no shoulder slaps or ball flips. As confidence gave way, all that was left was the forceful placement of the ball in the glove.

Baker stated that he feels terrible because he isn't ready to return home. "I haven’t been home [to Northern California] in the past two months since my February departure, so I know that I must love these guys as well as what I do."

CANDLESTICK PARK, 1993. Baker was in his office in the early part of his first year as big league manager. Baker paused midsentence as he smelt something bad in another room. He said, "Give me some time," to those in his office. "I have to take care."

He walked out of the clubhouse and stood there, the sad sounds of broken pickup trucks and poor choices reaching deep into his heart. "What's that?" He asked and answered his own question. "I'll tell ya what it isn't, it aint hittin music."

He made his way to where the music was changed and Bob Marley was asking for help. Within seconds Dusty was walking back from his office with a smile on his faces and his feet following the beat.

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He said, "Now that's hittin music."

Do stories like these represent something more than just folklore? Are they able to accumulate to the point that they can be considered an identity? Is cool transferable? Before Baker became the Giants' manager, they lost 90 games. They added Barry Bonds to their roster and won 103 games in 1993, but didn't make it to the playoffs. It won't happen again. In 1995, when baseball was back in the postseason, the wildcard was created. Baker believes it's always something.

"What are you going to do? Take a shower and figure out how you will win next year." After Tuesday's Game 6, he stated that he was done. He said after Tuesday's Game 6. That's progress, I suppose.

He wasn't convinced. He's seen too many things to take comfort from his good effort. His team was down three to one with Game 5 just hours away. He was asked if he was disappointed by the situation. His team was on the verge of being eliminated, and his manager had managed only one other World Series.

He said, "No, I'm no disappointed at all." "I mean, I would be disappointed if it was 20 years later. You know what I mean?"

He also lost the World Series to his previous team, which was followed by the loss of his job. He will he be able to get over the disappointment? In the gloom of this moment, Tuesday night's answer was the same as so many other aspects of his occupation: totally out of his hands.