Buck and Baker are up to their old tricks

Buck and Baker are up to their old tricks

Mets manager Buck Showalter. (Photo: AFP)
Mets manager Buck Showalter. (Photo: AFP)

Of current New York Mets manager Buck Showalter it's been said: "He's the best manager never to win a World Series."

Houston Astros skipper Dusty Baker, meanwhile, has taken five different franchises to the post-season -- including two World Series -- but has yet to win it all.

The same case could be made for Baker being the top manager with nary a Series title.

Each has turned numerous floundering ballclubs around before failing to win it all in the post-season.

Showalter first made a name for himself when he managed the New York Yankees in the mid-1990s.

The Yanks were then a hapless group that had missed the post-season for over a decade. But Buck managed to steer them to a spot in the play-offs in 1995.

The Yanks were eliminated early in that post-season. And rather than fire most of his coaches, as ordered by tempestuous team owner George Steinbrenner, Buck quit as manager.

But he had set the table for new skipper Joe Torre to then lead the Bronx Bombers to three World Series crowns in the next four seasons.

Later, Buck took over three other bottom-of-the standings ballclubs -- the Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles -- and quickly turned them into post-season ballclubs.

But again, because Showalter had failed to win a World Series, he was let go. No matter that he had overseen a tremendous turnaround in each location.

Talk about: "What have you done for me lately?"

Now Buck is up to his old tricks with the formerly woe-begotten Mets.

In his very first season with them, he has taken a ballclub that hasn't been to the post-season since 2016 and was 77-85 a year ago to first place in the National League East.

Showalter's win total as an MLB manager, at present, is more than 1,600.

This could finally be Showalter's breakthrough Series-winning season.

Baker, meanwhile, has become the first skipper to win MLB division titles with five different teams.

In his four previous stints before joining the Astros, Dusty engineered near last place-to-first type performances by his ballclubs.

With the San Francisco Giants in 2002, Baker came within two outs of securing that precious World Series title, only to see the Los Angeles Angels rally to win the MLB title.

Baker was let go by the Giants soon after. Nearly the same thing occurred at Baker's other three MLB managerial stops.

He oversaw remarkable turnarounds by the then-downtrodden Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals.

Then, after each team had made it to the post-season but failed to advance to the World Series, Baker was scapegoated and let go.

All three clubs then proceeded to plummet to the bottom of the standings after Baker was deep-sixed.

This season, Baker passed the 2,000 win mark as a manager.

Ten of the 11 other skippers who reached that plateau are in the MLB Hall of Fame (recently-retired Bruce Bochy, the other manager to win that many games and not be in the Hall, is not yet eligible by voting rules).

Then, in 2021, Baker's Astros fell to the Atlanta Braves in the World Series.

But now, the chances of Baker and Showalter meeting in the 2022 MLB grand finale and one of them finally notching that elusive first Series crown are extremely good.

Showalter's Mets have the second-best record in the National League (only the Los Angeles Dodgers have won more ball games).

Baker's Astros, meanwhile, top the American League in victories.

There's a very good chance the two ballclubs will meet up in this year's fall classic.

When Wiggins' World informed him of the quote about Showalter being the best manager to never win a Series, Buck was taken aback.

After several awkward seconds, a somewhat flummoxed Buck responded: "Um, who are the others? Is there such a thing as the worst one?"

Upon taking a few more seconds to collect his thoughts, Showalter added: "No, I don't even think about it. It's a blessing just to see the sun come up every morning, you know what I mean?

"I don't dwell on it, it's not gonna define my life."

When WW asked Baker about HIS World Series title drought, Dusty replied: "Nah, I don't worry about that. I've had a good career and a good life. I'm looking forward to an even greater finish."

It goes without saying, then, that a 2022 World Series title would represent just such a finale for either Dusty Baker or Buck Showalter.

Contact Wiggins' World at davwigg@gmail.com

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