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Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

A nod to Dusty Baker

Ty Welch
Fans cheer on the Astros in a regular season game in 2020. Dusty Baker has served as manager for the Astros from the beginning of the 2020 season to the end of the 2023 season.

What will life be like without the charismatic manager that invented the high-five?

As the Houston Astros prepare to head into their first season after the retirement of Dusty Baker, I’ve been reminded of how great he was for the team.

So many fans talk about the end of his career with the focus of all the calls he should’ve made, the starting lineups he should’ve used and the players he should’ve subbed. But they should be reflecting on his career and all the great things he did for the Astros. Instead of fixating on the amount of times he played Martin Maldonado instead of Yanier Diaz, fans should think about the four consecutive ALCS appearances he brought the team. Instead of criticizing why Baker put Jon Singleton in as a pinch hitter in a critical moment in the ALCS, fans should remember the great things he did for the reputation of a suffering team. Instead of questioning his end-of-career plays upon the news of his retirement, fans should celebrate his successes throughout the span of his career.

On the Three Penny Press Instagram, 66 students were asked if they thought Dusty Baker retired at the right time. Pictured are the poll’s statistics, with 41 votes yes and 25 votes no. (Avey Gannaway)

The bottom line is that Baker was the right manager at the right time for a team still reeling from a scandal.

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Baker was called to manage the Astros after former manager A.J. Hinch was fired in 2020 when the Houston Astros were exposed for illegally sign-stealing with video footage. At the time, the Astros received hate from fans of every other MLB team. The team was ostracized and the achievements the team had reached were undermined. During a time in which the Astros had been seen in an almost entirely negative light, Baker’s long-standing good reputation benefitted the suffering organization.

As a fan, I saw all of the hate. Players were angry. Many of our players were hit by pitches in our first few games back—an act of revenge from those who were impacted by our cheating. Fans were angry. Social media comment sections were flooded with reminders of the dishonest acts of the team. Even our genuine successes, like our honest, yet phenomenal plays, were undermined.

I found it disheartening to be a fan. While I had been a fan since my early childhood, it was hard for me to knowingly support a team that cheated everyone else in the league. The people I looked up to as a little girl broke all the principles I thought they once represented. It felt like an act of betrayal. The accomplishments of the team paled under the lens of the truth—that the Astros needed to cheat to succeed.

Upon hearing the news of the scandal, I lost my trust in the team. The team won the 2017 World Series after Hurricane Harvey, and fans across the city were empowered by this accomplishment in the wake of disaster. After Houston as a community lost so much during Harvey, we also came together in strength and solidarity.

To have such a prominent Houston team thrive and outplay every other team in the league served as a symbol of strength for the city itself – while this disaster momentarily made us weak, we came out stronger. I was inspired by this resilience, and to find out that all of it was on the basis of dishonesty crushed me. It felt like our symbol of strength was a facade of fraud. The team looked weak and it made it seem like we couldn’t win honestly.

Yet I still watched the games. I still rooted for the team. I watched because of the new dedication to honesty that Baker brought to the team. I watched because we thrived under Baker. I watched us thrive despite the removal of our previous dishonest tactics.

On the Three Penny Press Instagram, 66 students were asked if they thought Dusty Baker was a good manager. Pictured are the poll’s statistics, with 55 votes yes and 11 votes no. (Avey Gannaway)

He reminded me of why I grew to love the team in the first place.

Baker prioritized rebuilding the team’s relationships across the league, which helped the team to be received in a more positive light. No matter how harsh the criticism and hate became, he interacted with other teams and individuals in a manner of utmost respect. He kept his communication open and made sure to openly carry the team with honest values. This was necessary to rebuild trust between not only the team and the league, but also in rebuilding trust between the team and its fans.

Baker’s commitment to honesty was more than necessary in order to bring back disappointed fans and reconcile our relationships within the league.

Baker openly condemned cheating in interviews with the press. He made sure to highlight the importance of integrity in the sport — to his players and to the baseball world itself. He helped the Astros return to the credible and honest organization that it once was while still winning big in the playoffs. It reinforced my comfort in being a lifelong Astros fan by showing me we had the capability to win big — even without cheating.

The team’s successes and my personal investment in the team became heightened throughout the span of Baker’s career as manager. His bright and loud personality made him a charismatic figure that I wanted to root for. I no longer doubted the team’s honesty and I enjoyed watching the Astros thrive in both the regular season and postseason under Baker.

Baker picked up the Astros at their lowest and turned them around to produce not only playoff wins, but a World Series win. So instead of critiquing the pitching calls he could’ve made, his career should be commemorated as one of the greatest in MLB history.

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