Dusty Baker Retires from Managing, Citing Online Criticism and Health Concerns
Public criticism is an inevitable challenge that every notable professional athlete and coach must face. For former Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, this criticism played a significant role in his decision to retire after 26 seasons as an MLB manager.
In a recent appearance on TNT’s “The Steam Room” podcast with Charles Barkley and Ernie Johnson, Baker revealed that the online Astros fans and media were excessively harsh towards him, as reported by the Houston Chronicle:
“We had a lot of success here, Ernie and Charles, and then the last couple of months here weren’t very pleasant, because we weren’t 10 games ahead,” Baker said. “You spoil people. They think you’re supposed to win this every year running away, and it’s not like that. Every year’s different. There was a whole bunch of criticism from 30-year-olds and bloggers and tweeters that I’m not doing this and I don’t know that, and I told my wife, ‘You know, I’m kind of tired of this and tired of the scrutiny, and if I could go manage and show up at say 6:30 for a 7 o’clock game and leave 30 minutes after the game, don’t do the [pregame and postgame interviews], I could manage for another four or five years.’ You know what I mean? After a while, you just get tired of answering questions.”
Baker also hinted at feeling mistreated by members of the Houston media during his retirement news conference. He mentioned that a couple of instances and articles played a role in his decision.
However, online criticism was not the sole reason for Baker’s retirement. He also considered his health at 74 years old. Additionally, Baker expressed a strong interest in following his son Darren’s career in the Washington Nationals organization.
Baker joined the Astros in 2020, stepping into a managerial vacancy created by the firing of AJ Hinch following the infamous cheating scandal that tarnished the team’s reputation and their 2017 title. The Astros needed a manager who could restore integrity to the organization, and Baker proved to be the perfect fit.
During his tenure, the Astros achieved remarkable success. Under Baker’s leadership, the team recorded a 320-226 regular-season record, reached the ALCS in all four seasons, and ultimately won the World Series in 2022. Simultaneously, Baker found an opportunity to return to baseball after being let go by the Washington Nationals, joining an organization with enough talent to consistently compete for the championship.
However, Baker’s reputation as the last true old-school manager, in contrast to the previously stats-obsessed Astros, may have contributed to the scrutiny and criticism he faced. Fielding questions from the media before and after games is an integral part of a manager’s job, and it is a task that few, if any, managers enjoy.
Ultimately, for a seasoned and accomplished manager like Baker, the constant scrutiny and demands of the job became tiresome, providing a compelling reason to choose retirement.