Former Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker is worried that the game has moved on. He still feels like he can be an effective manager, but believes teams are leaning more on education over experience when choosing coaches these days.
Because of that, Baker doesn’t think he’ll be considered for future openings, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
“Today’s game isn’t any different than it was before,’’ Baker says, “but it’s a different time in our country. There was always race discrimination to a degree, but now there is age discrimination, and salary discrimination, and intellectual discrimination.
“I had people ask what school did I go to? I was like, ‘What difference does that make at this point? I’ve got 50 years in the game.’ But all I hear about in baseball are people going to these Ivy League schools, and this and that, so that’s what I mean by this certain amount of intellectual discrimination. It’s like you’re penalized if you didn’t go to an Ivy League school.
“Experience doesn’t really seem to matter anymore. Winning doesn’t seem to matter either. It really doesn’t matter what you do if they want you gone.’’
Baker has been a punching bag among stat analysts for his treatment of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior when he was with the Chicago Cubs. Since 2003, however, Baker has made adjustments, and deserves credit for changing with the game. While his on-field moves will always face more scrutiny than most managers, there’s plenty of evidence that Baker is fantastic in the clubhouse and a strong leader.
Baker’s not far off on many of his points. Front offices have been filled with Ivy League graduates in recent years. Those executives are trending toward hiring new managers who are more willing to follow the front office’s wishes. The days of baseball lifers staying in those roles are dwindling.
In some cases, that’s fine. Some managers couldn’t adapt as the game changed. But Baker doesn’t belong in that group. He led the Nationals to two straight postseason appearances. And after the Matt Williams fiasco, that wasn’t a lock to happen.
It’s tough to know what the future holds for Baker. As he mentions, his phone barely rang after he was fired by the Cincinnati Reds. After his success with the Nationals, he wasn’t considered a candidate for any of the other job openings last winter.
It’s possible another team will give him one more chance at a World Series win, but it doesn’t seem likely considering the way things are trending.
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