We don’t have a clear picture of how the sports world will look in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, but Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker thinks one staple of sports might fade away once the games return.
Baker, along with former Los Angeles Dodgers teammate Glenn Burke, is often credited with helping to create the high five in 1977. Now, Baker thinks that the pandemic may mean the end of that act due to its potential to spread disease.
“The high five is probably going to be no more,” Baker told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
It’s too soon to really know for sure. Obviously, no one is going to be high fiving right now, and maybe not when sports returns. Assuming there is a successful vaccine at some point, that may be the catalyst needed for things like this to come back and return to prominence like they were before.
Hopefully a return to normalcy will also mean that Baker’s acts of kindness return, too.
Dusty Baker is one person who is widely loved, including by the acting world.
During an appearance this week on the popular web series “Hot Ones,” Zac Efron, the actor of “High School Musical” fame, told a great story about the Houston Astros manager. Efron, who has a large collection of autographed baseballs, talked about how he got one signed by Baker, then the manager of the Giants, as a kid growing up in the San Francisco area.
You’re gonna want to hear @ZacEfron’s Dusty Baker story
— Cut4 (@Cut4) April 3, 2020
“He drove by and he was on a motorcycle so he didn’t have a window he could roll up,” said Efron. “There was a couple people waiting for him, and I ran up with a baseball. I had a blue pen and a sweet spot of a brand-new ball and I showed it to him and Dusty was like, ‘I can’t right now, I gotta go to church.’ And that just means usually ‘don’t have time’ right? He’s like ‘I’ll be back in 30 minutes.’ He left and I thought I was never gonna see him again.
“45 minutes later, the motorcycle came roaring in, and I was like, ‘No way,'” Efron went on. “And he literally pointed right at me and was like, ‘Come over here.” And I walked over and he was like, “You still got that ball?” and I was like, “Yeah, thank you sir.” And I handed it to him and he signed it. So that one meant a lot to me just because Dusty Baker, like, doubled back from church. Who knows what he did? But it was pretty awesome. It was just really cool. Like, I had bleached hair. I was a little kid. Just awesome.”
Efron was born in 1987, and his childhood coincided with Baker’s tenure in San Francisco from 1993 to 2002. The three-time Manager of the Year has had four skipper jobs since then, including his hiring by Houston in January.
The awesome story is a nice change of pace because it is usually Efron who is the one doing cool things for sportspeople.
Dusty Baker is in the somewhat awkward situation of managing the team that everyone hates right now while simultaneously having nothing to do with the reason they’re hated.
Baker is trying to manage the Houston Astros to success amid the backdrop of their prior cheating and the open anger at the organization as a result. That means Baker has seen his players on the end of a lot of criticism, and some pitchers have even suggested Astros hitters may be thrown at for their role in the scandal.
Baker wants Major League Baseball to put a stop to that talk right now.
“I’m depending on the league to try to put a stop to the seemingly premeditated retaliation that I’m hearing about,” Baker said Saturday, via Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. “In most instances in life, you get kind of reprimanded when you have premeditated anything. I’m just hoping that the league puts a stop to this before somebody gets hurt.
“It’s not good for the game. It’s not good for kids to see it. I think both: stop the comments and also stop something before it happens.”
Baker’s words come on the heels of multiple pitchers suggesting the Astros might get thrown at for their blatant cheating and general lack of contrition. Baker probably has a point that this kind of rhetoric isn’t good for the game. Critics would also argue correctly that the Astros’ inept attempts at apology aren’t good for the game, which is something the commissioner has already hinted at.
Dusty Baker was formally introduced as the new manager of the Houston Astros on Thursday, and the 70-year-old made one thing very clear to the media — the sign-stealing stops here.
As expected, Baker was asked several questions about the cheating scandal in Houston. He said he knew taking the job would be a challenge given the circumstances, but he also guaranteed there will be no illegal sign-stealing as long as he remains manager.
— Leopoldo (@DeportesRBZ) January 30, 2020
It shouldn’t be that challenging for Baker to prevent his players from using electronics or other illegal means to steal signs. The Astros know they’re going to be under a microscope going forward, so they would have to be insanely arrogant to try something shady again. And if they did and got caught, the punishment from MLB would be even harsher, including potential player suspensions this time.
Baker is an old-school manager who has a track record of winning. While he had some issues with his bosses during his time with the Washington Nationals, he also has a ton of experience and has navigated teams through many ups and downs. He’s a smart and safe choice for the Astros, who still have a talented enough roster to contend for a championship in 2020.
- Dusty Baker
The Houston Astros will reportedly be getting their top managerial target.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Astros have reached a short-term deal with Dusty Baker to make him the team’s new manager. A press conference is reportedly scheduled for Thursday.
The Houston #Astros and Dusty Baker have reached agreement on a short-term deal to become their new manager
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 29, 2020
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Baker will sign a two-year deal.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 29, 2020
Baker had been reported to be the Astros’ top choice, but they had to work out a contract. The short-term deal makes sense, suggesting that the Astros will ultimately seek out a manager who fits in more with the organizational philosophy, but right now they’re more focused on steadying the ship.
Baker is perfect to do just that. His old-school tactical mentality is an odd fit for the Astros and their modern, sabermetric approach, but that’s secondary right now. The franchise is embroiled in a cheating scandal, and there will be major distractions early in the season. Baker, one of the best clubhouse managers in the lead, is the perfect manager to guide them through that.
The Houston Astros will have more than a few distractions to deal with as they head into spring training and the 2020 season, and they are reportedly hiring an experienced manager to help navigate them through it.
Dusty Baker is expected to be named the next manager of the Astros, a person familiar with the hiring told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The deal had not been finalized as of Tuesday morning, but an agreement was in place.
Baker is a three-time National League Manager of the Year who is widely respected throughout baseball. He won three division titles in the last five years he managed with the Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds. The 70-year-old has plenty of experience dealing with scandals, as well.
Baker was the manager of the San Francisco Giants when Barry Bonds set the single-season home run record with 73 moonshots. Bonds, of course, was wrapped up in the BALCO scandal at the time. Nightengale also reminds us that Bonds and Jeff Kent did not get along and once fought in the dugout, and Baker was able to keep the team together despite that.
If the Astros are going to contend in 2020, they will need to lean Baker’s experience. Baker recently spoke highly of the team and sounded like his interview went well, and apparently Houston executives are confident he is the man to lead the team during the most tumultuous time in franchise history.
Baker has a regular-season record of 1,863-1,636 and a playoff record of 23-32 in stints with the Nationals, Reds, Giants and Chicago Cubs.
Dusty Baker is a hot name for various unexpected manager openings around MLB, but the one he seems most likely for is the Houston Astros job.
Baker arrived in Houston on Sunday and spoke with reporters ahead of his interview with the Astros. Baker spoke highly of the Astros, calling them a “good team” and saying it would be an “honor” to manage them.
Dusty Baker arrived in Houston on Sunday ahead of his interview with the Astros: “They got a good team. They’ve always had a good team and I’ve enjoyed watching them to play and it would be a privilege and an honor to be the manager of this team.”
Much more from Baker: pic.twitter.com/K7Hh9ZJQ6m
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) January 20, 2020
In addition to the Astros, the Red Sox and Mets have manager vacancies after parting ways with their respective skippers over their involvement in the Astros cheating scandal. Baker says he has not heard from the Red Sox or Mets.
Dusty Baker said he hasn’t heard from Mets or Red Sox and is focused on Astros: “Everybody likes to feel like they’re wanted and I talked to Mr. Crane and he made me feel that I was wanted here.” pic.twitter.com/J9WbZjUk5U
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) January 20, 2020
Baker is 70 and viewed as an old-school manager, so leading the Astros — a forward-thinking and analytics-oriented organization — seems like it would be an odd fit on the surface. But Baker went 192-132 in his last stop with the Washington Nationals and is 1863-1636 overall as an MLB manager. In other words, he’s a proven winner, and that may be what Houston wants.