Potential future Hall of Fame manager Dusty Baker says that criticism from “30-year-olds” and “bloggers and tweeters” played a role in his decision to retire from the Houston Astros at the end of the team’s postseason run.
Baker, 74, shared that revelation during an appearance on “The Steam Room” podcast hosted by TNT NBA personalities Ernie Johnson and Charles Barkley.
“We had a lot of success here, Ernie and Charles, and then the last couple of months here weren’t very pleasant, because we weren’t 10 games ahead,” Baker said, according to the Houston Chronicle. “You spoil people. They think you’re supposed to win this every year running away and it’s not like that.
“Every year’s different. There was a whole bunch of criticism from 30-year-olds and bloggers and tweeters that I’m not doing this and I don’t know that and I told my wife, ‘You know, I’m kind of tired of this and tired of the scrutiny and if I could go manage and show up at say 6:30 for a 7 o’clock game and leave 30 minutes after the game, don’t do the (pregame and postgame interviews), I could manage for another four or five years.’ You know what I mean? After a while, you just get tired of answering questions.”
The Astros won their third consecutive division title under Baker’s watch, prevailing over the Texas Rangers despite finishing with the same 90-72 record thanks to Major League Baseball’s tiebreaker procedures. Baker nevertheless did face his share of second-guessing throughout the year, something that he addressed by referring to “a couple instances, a couple articles, a couple of things that kind of made up my mind late summer.”
Baker has not elaborated on which articles he was referencing, but several had surfaced suggesting there was tension between him and the front office over lineup decisions — most notably as it pertained to his choice of starting catcher. Baker preferred veteran Martín Maldonado, who was quantifiably in decline, while the front office wanted the better-hitting Yainer Díaz. The Athletic also published an article in September stating the front office was annoyed Baker was limiting Chas McCormick’s playing time due to his weight. “No, why (would) you even ask that?” Baker said in response to the allegation.
There’s no doubt that Baker served as a lightning rod throughout his 26-year managerial career, particularly from the analytically inclined crowd who questioned his strategies and predilection for veteran players. There’s also no doubt that some of the criticism was unfair. Given his track record — he won 54% of his games and led five different franchises to the postseason — you can understand if Baker felt he had earned more deference in his decisions.
For better or worse, though, receiving criticism and answering questions is part of the managerial job. If Baker found that to be untenable, then it sounds like he made the right decision to step aside and enjoy the next phase of his life.