Plenty of baseball fans, especially Giants fans, are in a tough spot right now.
Nearly everybody outside of Texas is rooting against the Houston Astros in the playoffs. Rooting against Astros manager Dusty Baker, however, feels like a crime against the game. Baker represents everything that's right about baseball, and always has been one of its most respected men.
Giants CEO Larry Baer won't exactly say he's rooting for the Astros by any means, but he sure would love to see Baker finally win a World Series.
"I'm super happy for Dusty," Baer said Thursday on KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks" show. "Super happy for Dusty."
Baer helped form the ownership group that kept the Giants in San Francisco instead of moving to Tampa, Fla. in 1992, and then helped hire Baker as the team's manager ahead of the 1993 season. Baker spent 10 seasons as the Giants' manager. He won 840 regular-season games in San Francisco and led them to the 2002 World Series, which they lost to the Los Angeles Angels.
But the Giants didn't renew Baker's contract after the 2002 season. Despite Baker's strained relationship with then-owner Peter Magowan, he and Baer stayed close. Baker even served as a special assistant to the Giants in 2018 and 2019.
In fact, Baer even helped Baker become the Astros' next manager when Houston was hiring over the offseason.
"I personally spoke with the Astros owner when he was looking for a manager," Baer said. "Dusty was a special assistant to the Giants last year, but obviously wanted another shot at managing. My own feeling was they couldn't have gone in a better direction given all that they were gonna have to deal with than someone like Dusty, who is the ultimate communicator with players and has such an amazing presence."
Former Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired in January by owner Jim Crane after MLB suspended Hinch and Luhnow one season following a sign-stealing investigation. An MLB investigation confirmed Houston cheated using a camera-based, sign-stealing system in the 2017 regular season and playoffs when they won the World Series. They continued the system during part of the 2018 regular season.
Around baseball, Baker seemed like the perfect hire to help restore respect within the organization. Baer clearly agrees with the sentiment, and also understands why many people could have a hard time rooting for the Astros, even with Baker as their manager.
"On a lot of levels, I think you have a lot of people in Northern California and around the country who are very happy for Dusty, for sure," Baer said. "When you take Dusty, and you just look at Dusty, it's wonderful that he has a chance at a ring."
This is Baker's 23rd season managing in the majors. He still is chasing that prized World Series ring, and is eight wins away from becoming a champion.