A veteran and smart baseball man who might have turned around the Baltimore Orioles in a season or two expressed the industry-wide assessment a month ago, "Why would I go there just to be neutered?"
Then, sure enough, the prospect of hiring a new general manager in Baltimore proved elusive – winding through many candidates, interviews, near misses, offers, withdrawals and various other tedium.
This was an organization that hadn't had a winning season since 1997, that had been run from the top by a seemingly stubborn and (understandably) foul-tempered majority owner, Peter Angelos, and run from the field by an officious manager, Buck Showalter, presumably leaving little room for much managing, general or otherwise.
Andy MacPhail, the club's president of baseball operations for five dreary seasons, announced last month he would not return.
So, on Sunday, the Orioles hired Dan Duquette.
Nine years after he was let go by the Boston Red Sox, seven years after the Red Sox team he helped stock won a game-changing World Series, and about three years since people stopped asking, "Hey, whatever happened to Dan Duquette?", Duquette got a job not a lot of others seemed to want.
Fifty-three years old and nearly a decade out of the game, however, Duquette was hot again. He'd interviewed with the Los Angeles Angels, whose Arte Moreno-Mike Scioscia masthead gave off an Orioles Lite feel.
Duquette didn't get the Angels job, which was the better of the two. Jerry Dipoto, who'd interviewed well with the Orioles and might have had his pick of the organizations, did. And Duquette wasn't the Orioles' top choice. Dipoto might have been, and then Tony LaCava, the Toronto Blue Jays assistant GM, was offered the job (he declined), and at least two others – De Jon Watson and Allard Baird – removed themselves from the process.
And yet we stand here today thinking, Duke is back!
We're also thinking: Um, OK then.
Duquette comes into a franchise that hasn't had 70 wins since 2006, whose attendance has fallen well under two million and has lost traction in baseball's toughest division – and in its city.
Whether Duquette reports to Showalter or vice versa is irrelevant. And maybe that's what made Duquette the right man for a job that looks damned near impossible. When you're reworking your resume and can't decide which to highlight from the past decade – president and owner of the Pittsfield Dukes or director of the Israel Baseball League – a distinct chain of command would seem a low priority. A regular paycheck and a foothold back into the league – even at the bottom of the American League East – would seem a high priority.
What I remember of Duquette's time in Boston was that the Red Sox were a grim bunch, that Fenway Park seemed a grim place, that Duquette was cold and aloof.
Turned out, however, they also were on their way to a World Series championship. And then another. Duquette had to have something to do with that.
Or maybe he'd been the guy standing in the way of it the whole time.
The guess here is, few will accuse him of that in Baltimore, no matter how long he stays.
Other popular stories on Yahoo! Sports:
• Les Miles goes by the book in LSU's crucial win over 'Bama
• NBA owners give players drop-dead offer to end lockout
• Joe Frazier diagnosed with liver cancer