The Washington Nationals 2019 season has not gotten off to the start many had hoped for. Even with the loss of Bryce Harper in the offseason, the talented ballclub still commanded large expectations. Currently sitting at 15-22, filled with bullpen struggles and injuries, those expectations have not been met.
When that dynamic comes about, the first person to take a great amount of the heat is typically the manager. That's reigned true in Washington, as talks about whether Dave Martinez should stay or go become more prominent with every hiccup. And when fans who have become accustomed to a certain performance on the field are no longer satisfied, it sometimes becomes easier to look upon the past and ponder, "Can't we just go back to that?"
That's reigned true as well, as some will clamor for the return of Dusty Baker, who lead the Nationals to 192 wins and two postseason appearances in the two seasons he was at the helm.
It seems as if that feeling, however, is somewhat mutual.
"I get calls and letters from people who miss me, and quite frankly, I wish I was there too sometimes," Baker said in an interview with MLB Network Radio on Friday. "They'll never admit to making a mistake and bringing you back. You're really hoping for something that's not possible."
Though Baker went on to clarify that he is very happy with his time away from coaching as it allows him to take part in family events, the 69-year old still has a soft spot for the franchise.
"I enjoyed my time in D.C. and it was second only to my time in San Francisco," Baker said. "Those are two of the finest years that I've had living wise."
Considering how the Nationals decided to part ways with Baker and hire Martinez, one could understand if he felt a little bit of satisfaction in seeing things slump a little since his departure. However, that's not the case.
"You don't feel good. I still root for the players," Baker said. "You try not to feel anything cause you try not to let it really affect your life. It's nothing that you can do about it."
He does still root for players he had a close relationship with. Like Max Scherzer, who he hates to see struggle as he knows how much of a competitor he is, and Anthony Rendon, who he believes changes the dynamic of the team when he's healthy.
Baker has also examined the team in a much closer sense, following along with the team's broadcast and even taking in Triple-A games when he gets a chance.
"They still have outstanding talent," he remarked.
While he may not be a manager anymore, Baker is still one at heart, sometimes analyzing how he thinks the Nationals can break out of their rut. Specifically, offering advice on how Martinez should approach slumping young players like Carter Kieboom and the lack of fundamentally sound ball the team has had in recent weeks.
"You have to instill the importance of being a full-fledged player, not just a hitter," Baker said. "I always stress defense. Defense doesn't win you games necessarily, but defense can lose you games."
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