With the Major League baseball season heading into its final two weeks, the possibility of something rare and historic is becoming very real. There are only two Black managers in baseball, one in each league. They also have the distinction of heading the team with the best record, setting up the possibility that this year’s World Series would be the first with two Black managers opposing each other. That both are also former players only adds to both the similarities in their stories and the significance if their teams end up in the World Series.
For Dave Roberts, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, this year so far has seen him vindicated for his pre-season predictions that the Dodgers would easily win their division.They entered last weekend with the majors’ best record at 104-47. They were the first team in the National League to clinch a playoff spot, and they have a whopping 21 game lead on second place San Diego in their division. Roberts, who played for five different teams during his 10-year career and was a coach with San Diego prior to taking the Dodgers’ managerial spot in 2016, Roberts, who was on the 2004 World Series winning Boston Red Sox team, has already won one World Series title in 2020, but knows that sone devalue that one dye to the COVID-shortened season. He definitely wants to add another one to his impressive resume.
Over in the American League, Dusty Baker has led the Houston Astros to a 99-53 mark and best record there going into the weekend. Baker also was on a World Series winning team as a player, and had a far more glittering record than Roberts. Baker played 19 years for four teams, and with the Dodgers won two Silver Slugger and one Golden Glove award, as well as being the first player to win the Natiobal League Championship Series M P award in 1997.
But he’s had an even more impressive career as a manager with five teams. -He’s done almost everything as a manager, taking five different teams to the playoffs. He has helped restore the competitive image of the Astros after the cheating scandal, and they overhauled the Yankees for the best record despite trailing by a large margin early in the season. But the one criticism that continues to dog Dusty Baker is the fact he’s won more games than any other manager who’s failed to win the World Series.
At 72, this may well be Baker’s last shot at getting the elusive World Series title. If either his team or the Dodgers win the World Series, that manager would join Cito Gaston as the only Black manager to win multiple titles.
Neither team is guaranteed a shot, though both will at least avoid playing in the opening wild-card series. But the playoffs can be heartbreaking, as Baker’s found out many times. It will indeed be interesting to see which teams wind up in the World Series, and whether the historic confrontation between Dave Roberts’ Los Angeles Dodgers and Dusty Baker’s Houston Astros actually happens.