Baker Named NL Manager Of Year

Singer Billy Joel speaks to the press during the Super Bowl XLI National Anthem Press Conference at the Miami Convention Center on February 1, 2007 in Miami, Florida. GETTY IMAGES/Evan Agostini

After winning the National League Manager of the Year award for a record third time Thursday, Dusty Baker thought about the San Francisco Giants' failure to win the World Series.

"Nothing balances losing, especially when you wanted to go all the way and the fans and everybody else wanted you to go all the way," he said. "It's been an emotional roller coaster, sort of. You go from being real good one week then real bad the next, then a couple of weeks later back to good again."

Baker, whose team lost to the New York Mets in the first round of the playoffs, received 30 of 32 first-place votes, one second and one third for 154 points in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Tony La Russa of the St. Louis Cardinals was second with 59 points, getting one first, 16 seconds and six thirds.

Bobby Cox of Atlanta was third with 41 points, followed by Bobby Valentine of the Mets (16) and John Boles of Florida (15).

San Francisco went 97-65, finishing 11 games ahead of second-place Arizona, the largest margin among the six division winners. The Giants then lost 3-1 to the Mets.

"We just want to continue this excellent run that, hopefully, we're in the beginning of," he said.

Baker also won the award in 1993 and 1997. In the American League, La Russa is the only three-time recipient, winning with Chicago in 1983, and with Oakland in 1988 and 1992.

Baker said he really couldn't enjoy the accolades.

"Not until we have a championship in San Francisco," he said. "It's cool. But team things are cooler."

After the playoff loss, Baker signed his fourth two-year contract with the Giants, a $5.25 million deal that made him one of baseball's highest-paid managers.

As late as July 1, the Giants trailed Arizona by 6 1/2 games. But in their first season at Pacific Bell Park, the Giants pulled ahead in the second half and finished with a 55-26 home record, matching the Mets for the best in the major leagues.

"These guys believed in me, and I believed in them and they believed in each other," Baker said. "Without them I wouldn't be sitting here."


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