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On flip side of baseball drama stands Mauch-like Baker

In the hubbub of a postseason plethora of winners' drama and euphoria in which baseball fans vicariously and rapaciously indulge, certain so-called losers are shoved to the background but still stand out like Shakespearean characters whose place of business happens to be a dugout instead of a stage.

Think of Ron Washington, the former Oakland Athletics coach who has managed the Texas Rangers to the postseason in each of the past three seasons, including two World Series, one of which, last year, his team was one out away from winning, twice, but has yet to be declared champion.

Think of Buck Showalter, who was fired by the Yankees in the mid-90s just as they were to re-establish a pinstripe dynasty in New York, who was fired by the expansion Diamondbacks just before they were to win a World Series at the start of the new millennium and who this year took the longtime dormant Baltimore Orioles to within a win of playing for the American League pennant but still hasn't set foot in a World Series.

Think of Davey Johnson, who did win it all 26 years ago with the Mets, and who in the '90s took the Reds and Orioles into the playoffs (and who was fired by Baltimore after a spirited run in 1997, when he was voted manager of the year), and who, this year, closing in on his 70th birthday, gave Washington, D.C., its first postseason team since 1933 but was denied a return to The Show's biggest show.

But most of all, think of Dusty Baker.

It's only natural that Giants fans quickly got swept up in the excitement of the National League Championship Series. It's only human nature that Giants fans who considered themselves blessed to have seen the first World Series championship in the team's more than half-century of history in San Francisco just two years ago lusted after another title, at Baker's expense.

And it's regrettable but understandable that the concern for Baker's health seems quaintly more distant than just two weeks ago and empathy for his Reds' stunning loss to the Giants in the first round of the playoffs lasted about the time it takes Aroldis Chapman's fastball to reach home plate.

But think about Baker, whose remarkable longevity and success as a big-league manager might be overshadowed by his teams' legendary failures, Baker whose career is approaching Gene Mauch territory, a land nobody wants to visit, let alone reside.

Mauch's 26-year big-league managerial career included the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies, who blew a 6?-game lead in the National League with 12 games left, in the pre-division era in which only league champions went to the postseason.

Mauch's career also included the 1982 Angels, who blew a two-game lead over Milwaukee in the best-of-5 American League Championship Series.


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