It is not a surprise Chicago made the jump into the NLCS last year and the World Series this year when they hired Joe Maddon.
Forget his mistakes in Game 7. The pressure is greater than any one person can plan for. The job Maddon and Cleveland’s Terry Francona did to reach that point is remarkable.
Managing is harder than plugging in a lineup and yanking a pitcher at the right time. Maddon’s team-building exercises drive people crazy, but he got more out of the Tampa Bay Rays and Cubs than he should have based on his faith in team.
Is Dusty Baker his equal? No.
As good as Baker is with Washington, and as attached as the players are to him, he is not on the elite level of Maddon, Francona and San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy. Baker has been in the game all his life, learning from the likes of Tommy Lasorda, but is not a big game winner.
Although Baker can win a title, the best chance in the next few years will come from a younger manager with the ability to handle the clubhouse and the stress. Better than Davey Johnson and Matt Williams, Baker is a tremendous short-term manager.
Chicago went long term with Maddon and the result was a ring. If Baker cannot go further, Washington’s next skipper needs to be a man who wants to stay five years or more.