Big League Stew

Dusty Baker expresses desire to manage U.S. at future World Baseball Classic

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(USA Today)

Though he fully realizes Tony LaRussa is the next logical candidate to manage Team USA at the World Baseball Classic, Cincinnati Reds skipper Dusty Baker still made it known on Saturday he'd like to follow in the footsteps of Tommy Lasorda, Davey Johnson and Joe Torre to manage the team once his days as a full-time manager are through.

Here's his exact quote on the subject, courtesy of MLB.com's Mark Sheldon:

"I would like to manage it when I'm through," Baker said Saturday. "I don't want to do it now."

Of course there's no guarantee Baker would even be ready to call it a career by 2017, so everything would seemingly point to the 2021 WBC if Baker were to make himself available and be selected. He would be 71 years old then, or as Dayn Perry of Eye on Baseball points out, about one year younger than Joe Torre was while handling the reigns this year.

If for some reason you think age contributed to Torre seemingly forgetting how to run a baseball team, Baker's candidacy may be a concern. Personally, I think it had more to do with a manager not having any type of feel for the talent around him, which tends to happen when a team basically gets thrown together at the last minute. And his hands were also tied by restrictions and strict routines for certain pitchers.

I don't think Baker could do much worse under those circumstances, so if he's serious about it and able to do it at that point in his life, I say why not. It could even be fun with an older Dusty in the dugout making Dusty decisions with his pitching staff while chewing through his toothpick.

Honestly, the only thing I didn't really like or agree with when I read of Baker's interest in the job was his comment on how he perceives American players approach the tournament and view the game as a whole.

"It hurts me to see, not the elimination part, but the fact that most of our best players didn't play," Baker said. "Not to take anything away from the guys there, but there were a lot of players that canceled out for whatever reason. You look at the other countries, there were a lot fewer that canceled. It kind of shows that I don't know if this is as much as American of a game as we'd like to think."

Dusty, it will always be an American game. Make no mistake about that. It's just the American dream is to reach the major leagues and win a World Series championship. That's the creme de la creme, and it's going to take a long, long time (and perhaps significant financial incentives) for that mentality to change. In fact, it may never change unless Bud Selig's grand vision of a true 'World' Series comes true.

I do understand Baker's frustration though, and appreciation his passion for the game and for the World Baseball Classic. Based on that, he has my vote of confidence.

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