SAN FRANCISCO -- It would hit Dusty Baker when he woke up Thursday morning, then not again. Fleeting, he would say. Sort of like the starting stint by the Anaheim Angels' Jarrod Washburn in Game 5 of the World Series Thursday night.
The San Francisco Giants built a 6-0 lead against Washburn after two innings and went on to a 16-4 embarrassment.
The Giants now need one more victory to provide Baker with the champagne for a possible farewell party.
Is Baker leaving? Is his 10-year tenure at the Giants' helm about to end. Is the crazy managerial merry-go-round soon to stop at his door?
For now, there might be more clarity to a San Francisco fog bank.
For now well, the thought was there when he got up Thursday morning that Game 5 might be his last as the Giants' manager in Pacific Bell Park.
"After that, I just forgot about it," he said. "This is no time to get melancholy right now. This is a time for us to push to the finish line."
As the Giants draw closer, as one managerial option after another closes for Baker (would he really have found that fractious New York Mets' situation appealing?), as vacancies with the Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners (who may be unwilling to meet his price) seem the only possible alternatives to returning to the Giants and a potentially strained relationship with managing general partner Peter Magowan, it has become harder for Baker and club officials to avoid the issue.
Before Game 5, General Manager Brian Sabean, expressing annoyance at times, said what "nobody has been able to comprehend" is that the only reason Baker's status hasn't been resolved is because his own hasn't.
"Nobody's ever said that we didn't want Dusty Baker to manage this ballclub, including Peter Magowan," Sabean said. "It's just that in sports, especially baseball, why would you sign a manager long term if you didn't know who he's going to be working with? It's just not done. So until I'm resolved, either being here or going off in the sunset, the manager's situation" won't be.
Does he want to return? Does he think 10 years may be enough, as he suggested in a pre-Series interview? Does he think that his relationship with Magowan, exacerbated in the spring when Baker felt the owner created "undue pressure" by saying this was a World Series-caliber team, a team without holes, is beyond repair? Would he really consider sacrificing his Bay Area popularity, friendships and fishing holes for the Cubs?
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