Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker (left) and Chicago White Sox manager Tony LaRussa meet at Minute Maid Field in Houston on Thu Oct 7, 2021 for game 1 of the ALDS (file photo NBC Sports)
The Ultimate Baseball Face-off – Dusty Baker vs Tony LaRussa
That’s Amaury News and Commentary
By Amaury Pi-González
The American League Divisional Series is an attractive one. Two of the best hitting teams in all of baseball with very good pitching also. Manager Dusty Baker of the AL Western Division Champion Houston Astros, who will host Tony La Russa Manager of the Chicago White Sox Champion of the AL Central Division. Two excellent managers, who both return to the show after a few years of “unemployment”.
The two managers cut their teeth here in the Bay Area, Tony (The Hall of Famer) with the Athletics and Dusty (The Players Manager) with the Giants, they are two “old school” managers, not necessarily going by today’s super hyper stats of high-velocity pitches and hits, infield shifts, launch angle and all the other stuff which some media and fans overdose these days. Both not afraid of using the bunt, sacrifice, or as well as the hit and run or ‘run and hit’ and very much manage with their guts in-game situation.
Tony LaRussa is the active manager with the most wins ever 2,821, which places him second all-time behind the legendary owner and manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, Connie Mack who won a total of 3,731 baseball games.
Dusty Baker occupies No.12 in the all-time managers in wins with 1,987. Having covered both managers and traveled with them, there is a rivalry between both, the two oldest managers in baseball this season, Tony 77, Dusty 72.
They both speak conversational Spanish. In the 1980’s I recorded “El Show de Tony LaRussa” which was a three minute inside pregame show for radio. Tony would talk about the previous game with his take as a manager. With Dusty, many times I interviewed him including in the late 1990s when he was managing the Giants including 2002 when he won the National League Pennant and lost the World Series to the LA Angels.
This American League Divisional Series begins this Thursday, October 7 at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, who finished the season with 95-67 winning the West, while the Chicago White Sox ended with 93-69. This is the best-of-5 and Houston owns home-field advantage. Prediction: It will be a 5 game series. Houston is a much experienced postseason-proven team than Chicago. They didn’t clinch until the last week of the regular season.
Chicago White Sox won the Central Division (the weakest in baseball, second-place Cleveland Indians finished 13 games from Chicago). The Sox had their share of injuries, but they were never really challenged, they are a dynamic and mostly young ball club, which many critics believe (before the season) that LaRussa would be “too old” to win with this young group of players, but he proved those guys wrong and here is another Tony LaRussa team in the postseason.
Some great hitters for Houston in the series: José Altuve, Carlos Correa, Jordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Yuliesky Gurriel, who just won the league batting title with a .319 average, which today is the equivalent of hitting .340 decades ago, a breakthrough year for Kyle Tucker who was a First Round pick in the 2015 Draft, for the Astros and ended this season with his best numbers at 24 years of age, hit .294 with 30 home runs and 92 RBI. Their rotation is solid and a good bullpen to complete the game.
The Chicago White Sox can swing it with anybody. Tim Anderson, José Abreu, Yoán Moncada, Luis Robert, César Hernández, Eloy Jiménez, Yasmani Grandal, some of the names that can hit and hit for power. A very good pitching staff with Carlos Rodón, Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, Dylan Cease, and a very strong bullpen with Craig Kimbrel and Liam Hendricks to close the game.
I give the edge to Houston in 5 games, but if Chicago wins, they have the potential to run the table and go all the way and win the World Series.
About the Wild Card game: (Note) I never liked the Wild Card game, just one game to decide a season. The LA Dodgers won 106 games this year and finished second. The first team ever to finish with 106 wins and not win their division. The Dodgers play the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, Oct 6.
The winner advances, the other team goes home. Just image winning 106 games and getting eliminated in the first round of the postseason? Something is not right here. This is not the NFL. Solution? Wild Card should be the best of 3 games. Just reduce the season to 152 games instead of 162 to even the whole year schedule, so the World Series doesn’t end by Thanksgiving Day. Who really likes the ‘due or die games’? Fans and especially, television, who usually score very good ratings.
Amaury Pi Gonzalez call post season baseball on CBS Spanish radio and reported for Telemundo TV and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com