Major League Baseball Manager Dusty Baker has seen a lot of things over his 6 decades in the sport. From 1968 to 1986, he played in the majors for 4 different teams, hitting 242 home runs and winning a World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981. Baker also somehow won a Gold Glove that same year despite posting -0.7 dWAR in left field.
With his playing days done, Baker started managing the San Francisco Giants in 1993, and over the past 19 seasons with 5 different clubs, he has won the Manager of the Year Award three times despite winning just a single pennant (2002). Currently, Dusty is the manager for the Houston Astros, and that really has gotten us thinking about the man’s ethical and moral integrity.
To start: Baker managed Barry Bonds in San Francisco from 1993 to 2002, and Bonds is well known to have been using illegal performance-enhancing drugs from at least the 1999 season forward (see Game of Shadows). Baker was clearly okay with this, as he kept putting Bonds on the field regularly in order to win an elusive World Series title for himself as a manager, Bonds as a player, and the Giants as a franchise (at the time).
Why? Everyone knew Bonds was cheating, even in the moment, long before the exhaustively research book above was published. What did Dusty have to say about it then? Not much, but in the years since, there is quite the trail of ridiculousness from Dusty.
- February 2004: “Because I was the manager, does that mean I know what guys are doing when they get away from the field? Does that mean I’m supposed to know everything in every situation in every town about everything? Nobody knows that. I’ve never even seen steroids. I don’t even know how you take it. How am I supposed to know who’s doing this and who’s doing that?”
- March 2006: “Everybody saw the physical change. You didn’t know if Barry was [just] lifting weights, because he lifts all the time.”
- December 2007: “In the past, Baker has implied that reports of baseball steroid use were overblown, and he has likened the concerns to a witch hunt. But Baker discovered from his light-hitting outfielder Marvin Benard that there was truth to some of the steroid use allegations surfacing after the BALCO raids in 2003. Benard, a Nicaraguan, was a Baker favorite during his seasons in San Francisco. Benard admitted to Baker that he had used steroids. Baker kept the information to himself and didn’t pass it up the chain of command.”
- January 2019: “Well you know something, everyone talks about the PED use. I was there and I don’t know, and I don’t think other people know either because when I was a kid I used to say you were innocent until proven guilty. Has Barry ever been proved guilty like any of these guys? Did some of the guys get through the cracks that were guilty? I’m sure, but I mean, you look at these numbers and Barry Bonds is one of the greatest players of all time.”
What we see here is a person willing to look the other way despite obvious evidence. In that February 2004 interview, Baker also claimed to “hate steroids” because he “knew Lyle Alzado.” It’s an interesting man who claims to hate the very thing that his star player is using to win games right under his nose, even though it killed his friend. There is no ethos, logos, or pathos there at all.
Furthermore, Baker went on to manage the Chicago Cubs starting in 2003, with suspected PED user Sammy Sosa on the roster as well. While Sosa wasn’t publicly exposed until 2009, there were cheating incidents during Baker’s time in Chicago that everyone was aware of at the time.
Baker, therefore, has managed some of the biggest cheaters in the sport and refused to condemn them as a manager. So, of course, in light of the Houston Astros’ recent issues, they went and hired … Baker—known to be okay with cheating.
Here is what Baker has had to say about his current team, its players, and the dishonest past:
- February 2020: “I’m depending on the league to try to put a stop to this seemingly premeditated retaliation that I’m hearing about. … I’m just hoping that the league puts a stop to this before somebody gets hurt.”
- April 2021: “How many in the stands have never done anything wrong in their life? We paid the price for it. How many people have not cheated on a test or whatever at some point in time? I mean, it’s easy if you live in glass houses, but I don’t think anybody lives in glass houses. I think that sometimes we need to look at ourselves before you spew hate on somebody else. It’s a sad situation for America, to me, when you hear things – I mean what are the kids supposed to think in the stands? And some of them are kids that are following their parents. It’s sad to me. People make mistakes. We paid for ours, and I wish they’d leave it alone.”
Dusty has been in MLB for 6 decades, and he knows how it works when people break unwritten rules, like the Astros did in cheating to win the World Series. But he still begs off the long-standing tradition, because he won’t condemn what his new team did before he got there.
We’re not really sure how to parse this second quote, but here we go. First, Dusty, there’s no price paid for it; the Astros still have their individual awards and the World Series title. So, explain what price was paid. Second, using the false analogy to compare professional cheats to school kids is asinine and illogical, even to a kid tempted to take crib notes into an exam.
Third, Baker’s use of Christian forgiveness is pathetic, putting forth religiosity and spirituality as a shield for criminality. Fourth, the use of the passive voice—”people make mistakes”—really deflects individual responsibility there in a Ronald Reagan sort of way. Finally, wishing everyone would “leave it alone” really tells you there is no regret anywhere for the actions.
So, our take on Dusty Baker: Three strikes, and this vile person is out. We hope every fan in every opposing stadium never lets up on the Astros, or Baker. They’ve earned the derision for all eternity.