As I watched the press conference following the Red/Giants game I couldn't help but feel sorry for Dusty Baker. The Cincinnati Reds blew a 2-0 lead in the series and Baker was left asking questions about the epic collapse. His despondent demeanor told the whole story and the expression his face was one of dejection and despair. His team wilted under pressure and it wasn't the first time this happened to a club he managed.
While managing San Francisco in 2002 the Giants had a 3-2 lead in the World Series and let it slip through their fingers. While managing Chicago in 2003 the Cubs also had a 3-2 lead in the NLDS before the infamous Bartman play started an avalanche of bad luck. Baker has been on the wrong end of those tragedies far too often and after a while it starts to take its toll on a person. The criticism escalates and questions about your ability to get the job done intensify.
If it happens once you can live with it. If it happens twice you start to wonder what the problem is. If it happens three times the manager has to take the blame. The stakes are too high and winning is too important when you are the leader of a major league ball club. There are no excuses and no explanations at that level.
The unfortunate part is Dusty Baker has become synonymous with losing. No one remembers he played 18 seasons and was a two time all star. No one remembers he was a member of the 1981 World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. No one remembers he was the manager of the year 3 times. It's all about what have you done for me lately and lately Baker has come up short when it mattered most. At this point he is known more for his failures than his accomplishments. I hope the Reds give him a chance to change that.