Why The 2022 World Series Is Very Personal For Houston Astros Manager Dusty Baker

The 2022 World Series features a face-off between two baseball powerhouses, the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies. Each team has ambitions for taking home the Commissioner's Trophy, having each won this honor only a few times –- once for the Astros in 2017 and twice for the Phillies in 1980 and in 2008. The Astros, however, have a bit of a cloud hanging over them from their 2017 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers, per the Sporting News.

The Astros were caught up in a cheating scandal that came to light after the series, and it led to the eventual firing of the team's manager A.J. Hinch, and their general manager Jeff Luhnow (via The New York Times). And it was in the wake of this scandal that Dusty Baker stepped into the role of manager in 2020. He led the team to an American League Championship Series win in 2021 against the Boston Red Sox, but the Atlanta Braves put an end to their dreams of a World Series victory that year. A win at the 2022 World Series would be an even sweeter accomplishment for Baker on both a personal and professional level.

Baker started out as a player

Born on June 15, 1949, in Riverside, California, Dusty Baker had an impressive career on the field long before he became one of baseball's longest-lasting managers, per the MLB. He started out his career with the Atlanta Braves in 1968 before moving to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1976 where he had a chance to shine. Baker was named MVP in 1977 for the National League Championship Series, and he earned two National League Silver Slugger awards. Perhaps the crowning glory of his career was winning the World Series in 1981. He finished his playing days as part of the Oakland Athletics in 1986.

Baker made his move to the managerial side of the sport in 1988, joining the San Francisco Giants as a first base coach (via Premiere Speakers). He worked his way through the organization as a hitting coach, and he became its manager in 1993. With the Giants, Baker won manager of the year three times, according to CBS Sports. He later worked with the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals as manager. After leaving the Nationals in 2017, Baker was a manager without a team for a time, and he interviewed with several organizations for the 2020 baseball season, including the Philadelphia Phillies.

Baker took on the team that rejected him in World Series

Much to Baker's dismay, the Philadelphia Phillies decided to hire Joe Girardi as their manager instead of him (via MLB). He had been deeply upset by being rejected by the Phillies, according to the Phillies Nation site. Baker had been a finalist for that job along with Girardi and Buck Showalter. The 2022 World Series has presented Baker with the perfect opportunity to show the Phillies exactly what they missed out on when they passed over him. And in a weird twist of fate, the Phillies actually fired Girardi earlier that same year.

In addition to getting a bit of revenge on the Phillies, the World Series also offered Baker a chance at an honor that has escaped him as a manager. He came close in 2021 to earning his first World Series win, but the Astros couldn't quite clinch the title. Baker was already having a banner year in 2022, earning his 2,000th win as a manager that May, per CBS Sports. He is the first African American manager to reach that accomplishment and the 12th manager to do so in the history of the sport.