What the coaches didn’t know was that Becker was calm because he was listening. He was listening to his late father, mother, late brother and late friends Don Baylor and Hank Aaron. Another belated friend, old fireball player JR Richard, was begging for a good slider or two for closer Ryan Presley on the ninth.
And when the last slider finally came in, Nick Castellanos back in a foul area and grabbed by Kyle Tucker, Baker found himself hanging on the side of the Astros’ bunker, shocked by his coaches as his players ran onto the field to celebrate. They jumped on him, hugged him and chanted his name, so badly that everyone forgot that he not only won his first World Championship title as a manager, but did so at the age of 73 – the oldest age he had ever done so.
“I was telling everyone, ‘Let’s not kill him,'” Espada said. “But we wanted to cuddle him.”
His players hugged him. Fans chanted his name. A fan on the right held a sign that read “Date with Dustiny,” and that’s probably exactly what it was. Because Becker later said he thought that after all he had been through, all the hiring and firing, so close to failure and the long wait, he had a feeling this was going to be the year, his third World Championship attempt, 20 years after the first.
“It’s not comforting,” Becker said. “It’s just joy and gratitude.”
In the end, the winning equation was simple: Framber Valdez threw six dominant runs. Jordan Alvarez hit Homer by three runs in sixth to give the Astros the lead. Oxes held them. The Astros completed the post-season as they lost two games en route to their second title in six years – they First since the signal theft scandal Which forced them to dismiss the coaching staff, which left them in need of a manager capable of withstanding the incoming inherited storms.
Whether this win qualifies as a salvation for The polluted 2017 Astros title It is a question related to the collective consciousness of baseball, which seldom agrees on much of anything. But one thing he does agree on is Baker, a beloved presence in the sport. He is not a perfect manager. He’s not a perfect person, he’s grown up a few times since he took over here. He says the stars made mistakes. But that’s what everyone who mocked them did, as well.
Fortunately, baseball doesn’t reward perfection. Flexibility rewards. reveals the truth. And the truth about Baker, after three decades of his managerial career, is that few people in this game are universally respected — as always, always, and so kind.
“He deserves this more than anyone else on the planet,” said his coach Dan Ferova.who had not had a major coaching job in the league when Becker picked him From his long coaching career in the Mexican League and added him to his team with the Washington team six years ago. He’s been with him ever since, all the way to the champagne-filled World Series Championship club in Houston on Saturday night.
After all the years of waiting, it took Baker some time to return to that club after the final exit. He was on stage while the crowd cheered for him. He joined the Fox broadcast team as he lit the field set and got big hugs from David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez and Frank Thomas. He went to the MLB Network site where he chatted with a few of his players until someone hit him in the back. His son, Darren, was three-year-old Pat Boy from Becker’s first World Championship ride with the San Francisco Giants 20 years ago. Then, Darren was the little kid who had to be pulled out of harm’s way at the home plate by the giants’ number one businessman, J.T. Snow. Currently, It is a secondary factor for citizensfully aware of what it all means.
“My son, my city, the world, there is a group of happy people for us,” Becker said when he finally joined the club’s celebration, which he carried with goggles and a bottle of champagne roughly the size of Darren in 2002.
Since that year, Becker has questioned whether his decision to pull first bowler Ross Ortiz from what would have been a crucial 6 game would be his lasting legacy in the World Championships. The Giants couldn’t keep the lead that Baker gave that year. His father then told him that he might not get another chance. He talks about it often. He said he prayed for the series to end in Game 6 on Saturday, to defeat his opponent.
But as it happened, Valdes did not force Becker to make a similar decision on Saturday. The left-footed entered Saturday’s start after allowing three winning games in three post-season starts this year. He left on Saturday after allowing four earned runs in four postseason starts this year. At one point, he hit the first five batsmen in the Phillies standings in a row, the second left-handed in World Championship history to do so. The only other person was a guy named Sandy Kovacs.
But Phillies writer Zach Wheeler matched him almost every step of the way on Saturday night. They both made it to fifth without allowing the runner to reach third base, let alone score. In fact, it was Valdez who blinked his eye first when Homer undoubtedly allowed Kyle Schwarber to the top of the sixth.
Then the Astros put two men at the bottom of the inning. so it was Phillies manager Rob Thomson who had to decide how best to take the lead In a potentially crucial World Championship match – stick with Boehler, who was dominant, or go to his best savior and cross his fingers.
And it was Thompson who would keep wondering for years to come what that could be, because the first hitter Jose Alvarado faced was Alvarez. Alvarez, one of baseball’s top hitters this season, has described how he has been conspicuously absent from attack since the Major League Series, hitting three runs 450 feet from center field.
When Alvarez returned to the dugout, Baker was finally far from home plate. He usually campes near the home plate, but when you’re battling crime, he heads the other way—”the place of injury,” as he calls it.
Alvarez worked his way up all the way, climbed the steps, and took part in a match of five with Becker which was perhaps the most violent of any of the two men in his life. Legend has it that Baker invented this move during his playing days. Becker’s life was not lacking in legend. In fact, it wasn’t much of anything – save winning the world championship as a manager.
“I thought about it a lot. I tried not to think about it, but I tried to have faith and perseverance and to know that with the right team and the right staff and everything would happen right,” Becker said. “If this had happened years ago, I probably wouldn’t be here. So it probably wasn’t supposed to happen so I could affect the lives of a few young people.”
A list of those who were influenced by Becker as long as a list of those he says influenced him. It may continue to grow. Baker is not under contract for next season, but says he wants management. He always said that if he won one world championship, he would win two.
“But you have to win one first,” Baker said Saturday night. “It was hell to get to this point. But it was worth it.”