WASHINGTON — In case general manager Mike Rizzo or Washington Nationals’ ownership needed a pep talk on signing manager Dusty Baker to an extension, they got one from the TBS studio crew before Game 1.
Casey Stern (who has had some other hot Nats takes this week), kicked off the contract by calling Baker’s contract situation “a travesty.” It got more contentious from there.
“He can’t make them hit in Game 1,” he said, referring to the Nationals’ shortcomings from Friday. “But he’s going in not knowing if he has a contract. Now, look, knowing Dusty like we all do, he’ll be fine. But that’s a joke.”
Pedro Martinez echoed his colleague’s thoughts but almost wrote off the topic as unnecessary, considering how good everyone knows Baker to be.
“Yes, but we don’t need to argue on behalf of Dusty. The numbers are there,” Martinez explained. “Everybody’s watching; there are 30 teams watching the Nationals play.”
Over his first two seasons in Washington, Baker took a team that was floundering under former manager Matt Williams and turned it into back-to-back division winners. The Nats were so dominant in division play this season (47-29) that they helped lock up the division early.
Martinez noted that Baker’s impact was more than just X’s and O’s.
“The most important thing, I think, that Dusty did was unite the Nationals together. Because the Nationals were falling apart when they were under Matt Williams. All of a sudden, Dusty gets in, the team plays better, the team is having success.
“The fact that the team hasn’t performed in the postseason doesn’t have anything to do with the way that Dusty approaches the game.”
While continuing to speak on Baker’s behalf, Martinez continued to insist that he didn’t need to speak on his behalf.
“I don’t need to actually become [an] agent for Dusty, even though I would love to,” Martinez joked. “Dusty doesn’t need anybody to tell the Nationals how special he is. I think Dusty’s pedigree, the way that he goes about his business, and the players–most importantly–are the ones who are going to speak on behalf of Dusty.”