Love or hate the Houston Astros, you’ve got to be happy for manager Dusty Baker. Unless you don’t like him, either, in which case we don’t know what to tell you.
Baker, 72, is back in the World Series and still aiming for his first world championship as a manager. Perhaps he needs that accomplishment to become the first Black skipper in the Hall of Fame, though he probably doesn’t. Baker is 12th on the career list for wins, a three-time Manager of the Year and the only manager in major league history to win division titles with five different clubs.
Still, he badly wants both the championship and a plaque in Cooperstown. For his father. For his late big brother-like figure, Hank Aaron. For late friends Joe Morgan, Bob Watson and so many others. And for himself.
“As an African American, most of the time they don’t really say that you are of a certain intelligence,” Baker said after the Astros vanquished the Red Sox in the American League Championship series. “That’s not something we usually get, and so I’ve been hearing a lot of this stuff most of my life. …
“But like I tell [my players], you don’t have anything to prove or show anybody. The only entities that you have to satisfy are God, family and yourself. And then the other people? They can see you later.”
Eventually, they can see him in Cooperstown. And maybe, a little over a week from now, in the mother of all champagne celebrations.
Here’s what’s happening:
Manchester United vs. Liverpool (10:30 a.m., NBCSN)
Add Cristiano Ronaldo to the mix for Man U, and this rivalry with mighty Liverpool — the fiercest one in English soccer — gets kicked up a few more notches.
Washington at Packers (noon, Fox-32)
Man, we can’t wait to see Washington QB Taylor Heinecke roll right, fake a throw to the end zone, race to the near pylon, take a hit, spring to his feet after scoring and shout at the Lambeau Field crowd, “I still own you!” Wait, has he even faced the Packers before?
Chiefs at Titans (noon, Ch. 2)
The Chiefs are running out of time to convince us they’re still, you know, the Chiefs. A loss would drop Patrick Mahomes and Co. below .500.
Bears at Buccaneers (3:25 p.m., Ch. 2)
Tom Brady is at Michael Jordan’s level when it comes to finding special motivation to make an opponent suffer. Yes, you’d better believe Brady sees this as a payback game for last year’s Bears win.
Red Wings at Blackhawks (6 p.m., NBCSCH, NHL)
One of these nights, the Hawks are going to take the ice and at least vaguely resemble an NHL team.
Dodgers at Braves, Game 7, if necessary (6:30 p.m., TBS)
It’s hard to imagine anything more gut-wrenching than blowing a 3-1 NLCS lead against the Dodgers two years in a row, but here the Braves are.
Bulls at Raptors (6:30 p.m., NBCSCH)
A fourth straight game against an opponent projected as a non-playoff team? Somebody slip the schedule-maker an extra $20.
Saints at Seahawks (7:15 p.m., ESPN)
All of Seattle is calling this a must-win for the 2-4 Seahawks. Shall “The Geno Smith Game” live forever in football lore?
World Series, Game 1 (7:09 p.m., Fox-32)
Those aren’t “boos.” They’re “Altuuuuves.” Or maybe they’re boos.
Maple Leafs at Blackhawks (6:30 p.m., NBCSCH)
Not to tell Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe how to do his job, but we’d consider giving redhot goalie Jack Campbell a well-deserved night off.
Knicks at Bulls (7 p.m., NBCSCH)
Old pals Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau return for a visit. Just wait until the game starts and they find out about all the new players the Bulls have.
Packers at Cardinals (7:20 p.m., Fox-32, NFL)
Don’t look now, but Arizona might be the best team in the NFL. OK, fine, you can go ahead and look.
Blackhawks at Hurricanes (6 p.m., NBCSCH)
Last time the Hawks played at PNC Arena, they won on an Alex DeBrincat goal in overtime. They’ve still lost seven of their last nine in Raleigh, but let’s not get into the weeds.
Michigan at Michigan State (11 a.m., Fox-32)
It’s hard to top the 7-0 Wolverines against the 7-0 Spartans. How rare and glorious to have a Big Ten game this gigantic that doesn’t involve Ohio State.
Florida vs. Georgia (2:30 p.m., Ch. 2)
The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs are running out of hurdles as they try to get to the SEC title game with a perfect record, but you can throw out the records when these mega-rivals get after it — 40,000 fans in red, 40,000 in blue — in Jacksonville.
Penn State at Ohio State (6:30 p.m., Ch. 7)
Just a hunch after watching the Nittany Lions’ nine-overtime debacle against Illinois: coach James Franklin won’t be going for two unless it’s absolutely necessary.