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Archive for Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Cubs cut ties with manager

October 3, 2006

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— Dusty Baker is out as the Chicago Cubs' manager following a last-place finish and a failure to take the team to the World Series in his four years.

The Cubs made the announcement Monday, a day after team president Andy MacPhail resigned and the club finished with a 66-96 record.

"I wish we could have gotten it done but we didn't," Baker said. "You see four years come to pass very quickly."

Baker was in the last season of his $14 million-to-$15 million deal and had hoped to resurrect the franchise that hadn't been in the World Series since 1945 and hadn't won one since 1908. The Cubs got within five outs of the Series in 2003, but never came close after that.

He compiled a 322-326 record during his time in Chicago.

Baker said he talked to the players Sunday.

"I just urged them yesterday just to learn from some of the things that they might have understood, and some of the things that they didn't understand," he said. "Just retain it and perhaps some day they can use it on being better ballplayers, and being, you know, better family men and just being better people, period."

General manager Jim Hendry said it was a tough day for the team, but that it was time for a change.

"History was almost changed for good in 2003 ... although we've been down this slippery slope the last two years," Hendry said.

He also said finding a new manager will be his first priority, but he offered no timetable.

Known for his toothpicks and wristbands while managing from the dugout, Baker was popular with his players and in his 14th season as manager.

Baker left the San Francisco Giants after leading them to the 2002 World Series, and almost guided the Cubs there in 2003.

With Mark Prior on the mound in Game 6 of the NL championship series, the Cubs blew a three-run lead in the eighth inning against Florida.

The Marlins scored eight times, helped when Cubs fan Steve Bartman touched a foul fly ball before Chicago left fielder Moises Alou had a chance to catch it. It will easily be the most-remembered inning in Baker's tenure in Chicago.

The next night, the Cubs lost Game 7 with Kerry Wood pitching.

They came back the next season and led the NL wild card by 11â2 games, only to stumble again on a final homestand and not make the postseason.

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