Quick to hire deposed Cubs skipper Dusty Baker over the winter, ESPN was just as swift to cut ties with the former three-time NL Manager of the Year Thursday, canning him after only one-hour on the job.
During the first Baseball Tonight taping of the spring, Baker was asked by anchor Karl Ravech to dissect a fifth inning hit-and-run from the Orioles-Marlins Grapefruit League game. Several seconds of uncomfortable silence ensued before he was able to answer.
“Damn dude, I knew you were going to ask me that,” said a confused Baker. “Honestly, I’ve never seen that play before in my life. Let’s move on to something easier.”
While Ravech tried to steer the show toward more novice baseball concepts like the bunt and the walk, Baker continued to struggle mightily, insisting the analysts break down an eighth inning double-switch that brought in Orioles’ reliever Danys Baez and outfielder Freddie Bynum, a Baker favorite from his days with the Cubs.
“When I was in Chicago, I called for the double switch at least seven times a game. That’s more my speed,” said Baker. “And that Bynum is a heck of a player, but he’s not quite Lenny Harris just yet.”
Following the show, Baker was informed of his dismissal by ESPN’s Executive Vice President Mark Shapiro.
“Man, I just don’t get it, there’s got to be some kind of conspiracy,” said Baker. “I guess I’ve got plenty of time to spend with little Darren now.”