The real purpose here is to recall the summer of 2002, when the rotting corpse otherwise known as the Cubs’ 25-man roster sold Don Baylor down the river and got him fired, which was absolutely a blessing without disguise.
Now we’re not suggesting current manager Dusty Baker will be or should be fired, but there are some parallels.
In mid-May 2002, as talk centered around Baylor, Cubs president Andy MacPhail denied the manager was in trouble.
In mid-May 2005, as talk centers around Baker, Cubs president Andy MacPhail denies the manager is in trouble.
Said MacPhail of Baylor on May 15, 2002: “We remain supportive. We know better days are coming.”
That was after 37 games.
Said MacPhail of Baker on May 18, 2005: “He’s got my complete confidence.’’
That was after 37 games.
The Cubs in early 2002 were decimated by injuries.
The Cubs in early 2005 have been decimated by injuries.
By the end, Baylor clearly was hoping to get whacked because it wasn’t worth the risk to his health.
Already, Baker sounds like he could do without the headache, and many of his friends — though not Baker himself — have suggested he wouldn’t mind a vacation.
In mid-May 2002, Baylor had one year, 4¨ months left on a very expensive four-year deal, and everyone said there was no way the Tribune Co. would eat that contract.
In mid-May 2005, Baker has one year, 4¨ months left on a very expensive four-year deal, and everyone says there’s no way the Tribune Co. will eat that contract.
MacPhail on Baylor in May 2002: “One thing that distinguishes Don … is that we were the most improved team in the National League last year.’’
MacPhail on Baker in May 2005: “(People) forget that we won more games in ’04 than we won in ’03.”
MacPhail on Baylor in May 2002: “We had 88 wins (in 2001) with a team that, fairly evaluated, was about the most you could have hoped for.’’
MacPhail on Baker in May 2005: “People forget that in ’04, despite a series of significant injuries early on, we hung around and went 13-3 in the first part of September.’’
MacPhail on Baylor in May 2002: “He did a good job the last two years.’’
MacPhail on Baker in May 2005: “You have to go back to World War II before you can find a manager who strung together two seasons with as many wins as we enjoyed the last two years.’’
In May 2002, MacPhail gave Baylor a vote of confidence.
In May 2005, MacPhail has given Baker a vote of confidence.
In April 2002, when it was suggested that Baylor might not make it through the season, MacPhail denied it, saying it’s “not worth the ink that’s needed to print this sentence.’’
Baylor was fired July 5, 2002.
Baker’s team has a much better record and much better talent — and much greater expectations.