After missing the playoffs in 2015 and a bad ending in the field and the dugout, the Nationals needed a strong hire to replace the departed Matt Williams. In Dusty Baker, it looks like the club has done just that.
Baker has won everywhere he's been, and he's been a lot of places. In an MLB Network production airing tonight at 9 p.m., Baker talks about the opportunity he has with the Nats after a lifetime in baseball.
"The Nationals, they’ve never had a championship," Baker said. "Why not now, and why not me?"
Drafted in 1967, Baker has seen enough baseball to last many lifetimes. He's been up close for some historic moments, arguably nothing more incredible than being in the on-deck circle when Hank Aaron blasted his record breaking 715th home run. But in previously managing three teams (Giants, Cubs, Reds), Baker has never hoisted the World Series trophy as a manager. With Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer and a strong Nats squad, maybe Baker can finally do that in D.C.
The show - Dusty: A Baseball Journey - paints the picture of Baker as a complex man with passion for much more than just baseball. An advocate and businessman that works in vineyards and solar power, the show details the combination of time and place that molded Baker into the man he is today. A strong father and mother played a large role in his childhood, as did a stint playing in Atlanta and learning about deep-rooted racism in the old south 40 years ago.
When the Braves drafted Baker in 1967, it took a promise from Aaron to Baker's mom to get him to join Atlanta organization. And even then, Baker's father did not agree, suing the organiztion to withhold Baker's signing bonus.
Every step along the way for Baker has been interesting - whether it's being drafted or hanging out with Jimi Hendrix. The documentary shows it all, and with pitchers and catchers heading to Florida soon, it's one that Nats fans won't want to miss.
In the opening segment, Bob Costas called Baker "the quintessential baseball lifer." While that's true, it seems Baker is also much more.
Ed. Note: MLB Network provided CSN with an advanced screening of the documentary.