Dusty Baker was about as down as you will see him after the Washington Nationals dropped Game 5 of the NLDS to the Chicago Cubs.
Heading into his ninth postseason as a manager, Baker talked about the possibility of finally winning a World Series, one of the few things he hadn’t accomplished in a long career in the game.
“There's not much I've missed in life, period,” Baker told reporters.
“Missed being big man on college campus because I signed out of high school, and loving grandparents because they died before I was born; and then, I know there's a championship coming. I know it's already written. All you've got to do is believe it and then act it.”
When he finally realized the Nationals weren’t going to win it all, after the Game 5 loss, it appeared to hit Baker hard.
“It really hurts, you know, to lose like that,” Baker said, “especially after what we went through all year long, and that was tough.”
“It's very disappointing,” Baker added. “Not to be going to L.A., not to go home see my family, and play in Dodger Stadium, and go to the next step.
“You know, it was just a tough game to lose.”
Baker led the Nationals to a second straight division crown, their fourth in six seasons, but the first time they’ve won in back-to-back campaigns.
Baker, in 2017, became one of seven managers in major league history to lead teams to nine postseason appearances (and the other six managers are in the Hall of Fame), and also became, “... the 12th manager in MLB history to win 90 or more games on 10 or more occasions,” as the Nationals noted in their Season in Review.
But will he be back on the bench in the nation’s capital next season? He signed what was reportedly a 2-year/$4M deal with the Nationals in November of 2015, but that deal expired at the end of the 2017 campaign, and in spite of the fact that both sides said they wanted to get a deal done, they didn’t during the season and will have to work something out now, if the Nats’ brass intends to bring Baker back.
According to a report in the Washington Post this week, by columnist Barry Svrluga, “... [i]n the middle of the season, the Nationals and Baker had worked toward an extension of his original two-year deal — two years that resulted in two division titles. But Baker expressed some frustration about not having the deal done to The Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes, and that story displeased the ownership group of the Lerner family, and negotiations sputtered.”
Are they talking again? Will they announce a new deal after the World Series ends? Do you have any idea where the Nationals would turn if they didn’t bring Baker back or any suggestions?
FanRag’s Jon Heyman wrote this afternoon that he’d heard Baker would, “... love ‘another crack’ with this Nats team and is just awaiting final word from the team.”
“‘It’s up to [the Nats],’ one person familiar with the situation said,” Heyman noted, and though there are possible sticking points in negotiations, considering how things went for Washington in previous seasons and negotiations, including the team’s talks with Bud Black, which reportedly fell apart, and led to Baker’s hiring.
According to what Heyman is hearing, “... people close to Baker believe that what’s foremost in his mind now is getting another chance with a team that seems ready to win.”