by Alex Poletti
Photo by Alex Brandon/Associated Press
Two weeks after the firing of former manager A.J. Hinch, the Houston Astros have found their new coach in Dusty Baker, who most recently coached the Washington Nationals back in 2017. Baker told The Second String on Thursday that he is ready for the challenge of leading this team, but he’s most excited to bring cocaine back to Houston.
“Houston has been a cocaine-free town for too long,” the former Dodgers player says. “Hopefully, with my leadership and the young talent we have on this team, we can bring coke back to Houston, and more importantly back to baseball.”
While Baker has an impressive managerial record with a 2002 National League pennant to show for it, he is still perhaps best known for his part in the Pittsburgh drug trials, which sw the suspension of 11 players for the use of cocaine. Though Baker was not one of the 11 to be formally suspended or reprimanded by the league, his involvement has followed him for his entire career.
“Back when I was playing, blow was a huge no-no,” Baker recalls. “But times are changing. Baseball is a different game now. I think if there is ever a time to bring back coke, it’s now.”
Baker will coach in the American League for the first time in his career, having previously served as the skipper for the Giants, Cubs, Reds and Nationals. Though Baker’s status as a traditionalist puts him at odds with the sabermetric-minded Astros front office, Houston didn’t have many other options, given the circumstances of their search.
Manager A.J. Hinch was fired outright by Houston after being handed down a one-year suspension by the commissioner for his role in the Astros cheating scandal, which sullied both their 2017 World Championship and their 2019 AL pennant. With many of the top managerial candidates off the market, Baker was the best choice for the team.
“I’m glad that the Astros are already so steeped in scandal,” Baker says. “Because there’s a lot more where that came from, baby. If MinuteMaid Park isn’t a full-on money laundering scheme by the end of the 2020 season, then I haven’t been doing my job right.”
While the players are still unhappy that Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow are gone, they hope that playing under Baker will be a positive experience.
“I’m gonna miss Hinch for sure,” All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman says, “but if Dusty can help us win, I’m for it. I don’t know if snorting coke is going to be as good for my at-bats as having a camera in centerfield telling me what pitch is coming next, but I’m willing to try anything to succeed as long as it’s an egregious violation of the rules of Major League Baseball.”