Monday, June 11, 2012

Firing Dusty Baker, a first place manager?

There are and have been for some time now, several fans on Twitter, calling for the head of Reds’ manager Dusty Baker on a pike like they were some Lord from Game of Thrones or something. Some have said they have wanted him fired since the day he was hired, and some have just recently jumped on the bandwagon. After last night’s bullpen debacle on national television, tempers were flaring more than ever.

In a tight seventh inning situation and then into the eighth, Baker went to his bullpen which has been one of the best in the entire major leagues this season and called upon three of his most trusted relievers in Jose Arredondo, Sean Marshall and Logan Ondrusek, but they just failed to get the job done like everyone had been used to seeing. Is that really his fault? Oh, it is. Well if you say so.

Some were quite upset that Baker didn’t just skip straight to Aroldis Chapman to get out of the jam (and I admit I would have liked to see Chapman there), deeming it much more important than saving him for a normal save situation. Of course, Chapman went on to blow the save in the eighth anyways, allowing the Tigers to turn a 6-3 deficit, into a 7-6 lead. Baseball is funny that way. I still like you though, baseball.

Anyways, back to the point. It all got me thinking, "Has a manager ever been fired, while his team was still in first place?"

I did a little research and it turns out the answer is yes. It wasn’t as hard to find as I thought.

Now, I could be wrong but the only first place manager I could find to ever be fired in-season was former Reds Catcher Pat Corrales of the 1983 Phillies. (Corrales played for the Reds from 1968-1972. Thanks to @contraryguy for pointing that out to me.) He had managed them to a 43-42 record, which was good for first place in the National League East at the time he was let go. Guess who was the last team they lost to, before he was axed. That would be none other than the Cincinnati Reds who defeated the Phils on July 17th by a score of 5-2. Corrales was then replaced by Paul Owens who managed Philadelphia to a 47-30 record to finish the year in first place at 90-72. They won the National League Pennant, before falling to the Orioles in the World Series. The other fun fact about that 1983 Phillies team? Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, and Pete Rose were all a part of it.

Firing a manager, while your team is in first place or the hunt for first place just seems like a head-scratcher to me, despite the success of the ’83 Phillies. There is a reason it has only happened once.

Who is going to replace Dusty Baker? Unfortunately, Paul Owens passed away in 2003. His career managerial record was 161-158, plus he wouldn’t have done it anyways, as he never worked for a team other than the Phillies. A lot of people were calling for former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who was part of the ESPN broadcast team for Sunday night’s game. I don’t really see him wanting to jump right back into that easily, but then again, who wouldn’t want to manage this team? On another note, a lot of the players seem to like Dusty, and what’s one of the old clichés? You don’t want to mess with any chemistry or anything like that, right?

I’ve had my quarrels with Dusty, as we all have, but I’m willing to let it ride till the end of the season. If he doesn't have this team in the postseason he probably won't be back anyways, and he might not want to come back with all you meanies out there. He’s been close to the promised land before and this team is good enough to make this a special season.

After all, they are still in first place.

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