Friday, June 29, 2007

Ex-Cubs Skipper Dusty Baker Waits for Opening

As nearly a dozen MLB managerial jobs hang in the balance, former Cubs manager and now broadcast analyst Dusty Baker will take advantage of a loophole in his two-year contract with ESPN to terminate his deal should any team choose him as its next skipper.

Baker had the clause woven into the pact expressly for this purpose when he signed with ESPN five months ago.

Baker is eager to return to field management as he feels his disappointing tenure in Chicago was more the result of bad circumstances than ineffective leadership. He was all but tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail after his final two injury-plagued season with the Cubs.

Baker, 57, has a 1,162-1,041 record with nine winning seasons in 14 years with the Giants and the Cubs. Baker guided the Cubs to the National League Central Division title in 2003 and was named manager of the year three times, a resume that makes him a top candidate for virtually any managerial vacancy, Cubs notwithstanding.

In a game in which only some eight percent of players are black, he is a something of a rarity as an African American and a prized icon of racial diversity.