Nobody doesn't love Dusty Baker, a baseball lifer who crossed all corners of the game during his remarkable playing and managerial career. That's what made it so difficult to see him don the Astros' colors and guide the back half of their dynasty.
The only silver lining of Houston's 2022 championship was that it secured Baker his first World Series ring, likely the final hurdle he needed to clear for Cooperstown consideration. After the Astros' Game 7 loss this past week, Baker announced that he was ready to walk away from baseball, eliciting an historically loud sigh of relief from all those who are sick of feeling a slight heart twinge while rooting wholeheartedly against Houston's machine.
Baker started in Atlanta by Hank Aaron's side, embracing him as Babe Ruth's record fell and the rest of the world refused to. He moved on to Los Angeles, where his bustle of bouncing hair barely fit under his stark blue cap. He finished his career in the Bay, where he ultimately earned his first managerial job with the Giants, taking them down to the wire in 1993, to the World Series in 2002, and probably to CC Sabathia's periphery as a Bay Area youth.
Sabathia paid tribute to Baker on Wednesday as the 74-year-old icon's retirement became official, thanking him for a lifetime of mentorship that began at the age of 13, when Vallejo was home and MLB was still a pipe dream.
Yankees icon CC Sabathia shows love to Astros' future Hall of Famer Dusty Baker
Sabathia will be eligible for Cooperstown six years after his playing days ended with the 2025 class. A group of managers and executives from the modern era is currently being evaluated, meaning their cycle will come up again for consideration with the Class of 2027 (pending another re-org, which literally always happens).
That means, if Sabathia enters the Hall in his third year of eligibility (which seems reasonable), the pair of old friends could be honored together. That would seem both extremely plausible and very fitting.
The only question remaining is ... which cap? I'll personally pay the Hall to make it Giants or nothing.