Miami celebra el título de los Heat

Miami Heat celebra con un desfile en las calles de Miami el título de la NBA.

Miami Heat Victory Parade And Rally

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 25: The Larry O'Brien Trophy sits on display during a celebration for the 2012 NBA Champion Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on June 25, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Miami Heat Victory Parade And Rally

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 25: Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat rides in a victory parade through the streets during a celebration for the 2012 NBA Champion Miami Heat on June 25, 2012 in Miami, Florida. The Heat beat the Oklahoma Thunder to win the NBA title. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Miami Heat Victory Parade And Rally

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 25: Fans cheer as Miami Heat players pass by in a victory parade through the streets during a celebration for the 2012 NBA Champion Miami Heat on June 25, 2012 in Miami, Florida. The Heat beat the Oklahoma Thunder to win the NBA title. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Miami Heat Victory Parade And Rally

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 25: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat celebrates during a rally for the 2012 NBA Champion Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on June 25, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Miami Heat Victory Parade And Rally

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 25: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on during a rally for the 2012 NBA Champion Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on June 25, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Miami Heat Victory Parade And Rally

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 25: Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat celebrates during a rally for the 2012 NBA Champion Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on June 25, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Matchup of overachieving rivals when Jets visit Dolphins

FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2017, file photo, New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96), Leonard Williams (92) and Demario Davis (56) react during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets and Dolphins face off on Sunday in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)

Matchup of overachieving rivals when Jets visit Dolphins

FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2017, file photo, Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase talks to reporters during a news conference, in Davie, Fla. The Dolphins rank last in the NFL in half a dozen major offensive categories and have been outgained by 363 yards this season, yet because they keep winning close games, only three teams in the AFC have a better record. The Dolphins take on the New York Jets on Sunday. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Construction Worker Dead After Falling Off Miami Beach Building

How he fell is under investigation.

Construction Worker Dead After Falling Off Miami Beach Building

How he fell is under investigation.

Construction Worker Dead After Falling Off Miami Beach Building

How he fell is under investigation.

Construction Worker Dead After Falling Off Miami Beach Building

How he fell is under investigation.

Jose Mourinho insists criticism of Manchester United is his fault – because people are used to him winning titles 

Jose Mourinho believes he is a victim of his own success and that his sea of silverware has led to him being judged more harshly than many of his peers. The Manchester United manager also reacted to recent criticism of his team’s defensive approach against Liverpool and Benfica by indicating that it is “difficult” for his side to play expansively in all matches. Mourinho arguably received more criticism for a goalless draw at Anfield last Saturday than Chelsea’s Antonio Conte and Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger incurred after respective defeats to bottom club Crystal Palace and Watford. But as United prepare to face Huddersfield on Saturday afternoon hoping to record their 11th win in 13 matches this season, Mourinho believes he is paying the price for a gilded 17-year managerial career, during which time he has won 25 leading trophies across four countries. “I think it’s my fault, because people are used to my teams getting good results and winning titles,” he said. “Other people have more time than I have. Other people have different standards than I have and that’s not a problem for me at all. We are going to lose matches, that’s obvious, and I can imagine we are going to have even more criticism than we have now, but honestly, [it’s] no problem.” Asked if the criticism was born of jealously, Mourinho said: “I don’t care about what it is. I simply don’t care.” Mourinho has said he know his side cannot score four goals in each game Credit: REUTERS United have scored four goals in half of their past 12 fixtures, but whereas Pep Guardiola’s free-scoring side will look to play on the front foot in all matches, Mourinho was adamant he will adopt a more cautious mindset when necessary. “I know my team cannot score four, five or six every match. I know that, especially with a certain profile of matches, it is difficult for us to score a lot of goals,” he said. “We have to try to find balances and I’m really happy with what the team is doing. Critics - no problem.” Although Marcus Rashford is fit to face Huddersfield after being substituted with a knee problem against Benfica, United remain without Eric Bailly, Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Luke Shaw could also be missing against Huddersfield after neither reported at the Lowry hotel with the rest of the squad on Friday.  Zlatan Mourinho said he expects Ibrahimovic to return before the end of the year but again claimed he could not put a timescale on when Pogba would be back. The France midfielder is currently in Miami recovering from a serious hamstring injury that has kept him out for over five weeks. “I have no idea [when he will be back],” said Mourinho, who added that he is only a “moaner” when it comes to fixture issues and not injuries. “If you ask if he can play next week against Tottenham then I don’t know. I’m not telling you no, then he plays, and then you say I lied. I really don’t know. I expect Eric Bailly to be back next week. I cannot tell you about Fellaini or Pogba.” Asked why Pogba was in Miami and not continuing his rehabilitation in Manchester like Ibrahimovic, Mourinho said. “You will have to ask Dr [Steve] McNally. He is responsible for that. I’m not happy or unhappy [about it]. It’s not my responsibility. I’m in control of the players who are available.”

Jose Mourinho insists criticism of Manchester United is his fault – because people are used to him winning titles 

Jose Mourinho believes he is a victim of his own success and that his sea of silverware has led to him being judged more harshly than many of his peers. The Manchester United manager also reacted to recent criticism of his team’s defensive approach against Liverpool and Benfica by indicating that it is “difficult” for his side to play expansively in all matches. Mourinho arguably received more criticism for a goalless draw at Anfield last Saturday than Chelsea’s Antonio Conte and Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger incurred after respective defeats to bottom club Crystal Palace and Watford. But as United prepare to face Huddersfield on Saturday afternoon hoping to record their 11th win in 13 matches this season, Mourinho believes he is paying the price for a gilded 17-year managerial career, during which time he has won 25 leading trophies across four countries. “I think it’s my fault, because people are used to my teams getting good results and winning titles,” he said. “Other people have more time than I have. Other people have different standards than I have and that’s not a problem for me at all. We are going to lose matches, that’s obvious, and I can imagine we are going to have even more criticism than we have now, but honestly, [it’s] no problem.” Asked if the criticism was born of jealously, Mourinho said: “I don’t care about what it is. I simply don’t care.” Mourinho has said he know his side cannot score four goals in each game Credit: REUTERS United have scored four goals in half of their past 12 fixtures, but whereas Pep Guardiola’s free-scoring side will look to play on the front foot in all matches, Mourinho was adamant he will adopt a more cautious mindset when necessary. “I know my team cannot score four, five or six every match. I know that, especially with a certain profile of matches, it is difficult for us to score a lot of goals,” he said. “We have to try to find balances and I’m really happy with what the team is doing. Critics - no problem.” Although Marcus Rashford is fit to face Huddersfield after being substituted with a knee problem against Benfica, United remain without Eric Bailly, Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Luke Shaw could also be missing against Huddersfield after neither reported at the Lowry hotel with the rest of the squad on Friday.  Zlatan Mourinho said he expects Ibrahimovic to return before the end of the year but again claimed he could not put a timescale on when Pogba would be back. The France midfielder is currently in Miami recovering from a serious hamstring injury that has kept him out for over five weeks. “I have no idea [when he will be back],” said Mourinho, who added that he is only a “moaner” when it comes to fixture issues and not injuries. “If you ask if he can play next week against Tottenham then I don’t know. I’m not telling you no, then he plays, and then you say I lied. I really don’t know. I expect Eric Bailly to be back next week. I cannot tell you about Fellaini or Pogba.” Asked why Pogba was in Miami and not continuing his rehabilitation in Manchester like Ibrahimovic, Mourinho said. “You will have to ask Dr [Steve] McNally. He is responsible for that. I’m not happy or unhappy [about it]. It’s not my responsibility. I’m in control of the players who are available.”

Miami's Gameplan vs Syracuse

#8 Miami won its last two games by a combined five points. Insider Ryan Bass details how the Hurricanes are preparing to take on Syracuse after the Orange upset #2 Clemson last week.

Miami's Gameplan vs Syracuse

#8 Miami won its last two games by a combined five points. Insider Ryan Bass details how the Hurricanes are preparing to take on Syracuse after the Orange upset #2 Clemson last week.

Miami's Gameplan vs Syracuse

#8 Miami won its last two games by a combined five points. Insider Ryan Bass details how the Hurricanes are preparing to take on Syracuse after the Orange upset #2 Clemson last week.

Miami's Gameplan vs Syracuse

#8 Miami won its last two games by a combined five points. Insider Ryan Bass details how the Hurricanes are preparing to take on Syracuse after the Orange upset #2 Clemson last week.

Fluid, Potential Election Field Points to Chaotic U.S. Soccer Presidential Campaign

Rarely have we seen a week in the American soccer landscape when there has been as much back-channel chatter as this one. “It’s the Wild West,” said one of the two dozen U.S. soccer insiders I spoke to over the past seven days.

The reasons are simple: The U.S. failed to qualify for World Cup 2018, producing the most embarrassing moment in the history of U.S. Soccer, and everyone is jockeying for position ahead of what could be a chaotic and nasty campaign for U.S. Soccer president culminating in an election on Feb. 10 in Orlando. Each official candidate for that election will need at least three formal nominations from delegates by Dec. 12.

This is an ongoing story, of course, and in the coming weeks we’ll take a closer look at a number of topics, including: The debate over what needs to change in U.S. soccer; how power works, formally and informally, in American soccer and in the U.S. Soccer federation; who votes in the election; and the chain of command and responsibilities of the various positions at U.S. Soccer.

But for now, here's what we are able to surmise as of Friday about potential candidates for U.S. Soccer president:

WHO HAS ANNOUNCED THEY’RE RUNNING AND SAYS THEY HAVE THE REQUIRED THREE FORMAL NOMINATIONS?

Steve Gans

Who is he? A Boston-based lawyer who has been in soccer for more than 25 years, Gans has been involved in the playing, legal, management and consulting sides of the sport.

Supporters would say: That Gans has an ethical reputation and is right when he criticizes the judgment of Sunil Gulati, the incumbent, over some of his most prominent decisions on national team coaches (including the pre-2014 extension of Jurgen Klinsmann’s and keeping him in the position of USMNT coach for too long).

Critics would say: That Gans isn’t a big enough presence for a position that needs one and doesn’t have enough of the respect needed to make big decisions on the technical soccer side.

Paul Lapointe

Who is he? A Western Massachusetts-based regional director of the UPSL, a national amateur league. Lapointe told SI.com on Thursday that he has the necessary nominations to be an official candidate.

Supporters would say: That Lapointe has some intriguing ideas on things like proposing promotion and relegation in U.S. club soccer for every tier below MLS, but not including MLS.

Critics would say: That Lapointe is taking far too big a leap from the UPSL to become the president of U.S. Soccer.

WHO IS LIKELY TO RUN?

Sunil Gulati

Who is he? The incumbent who has been U.S. Soccer president since 2006. Gulati has not announced whether he is running again, but he is expected to do so.

Supporters would say: That Gulati has presided over 11 years of immense growth in U.S. Soccer, including a 2015 Women’s World Cup title, two USWNT Olympic titles, two knockout-round berths in the men’s World Cup and the establishment of U.S. Development Academies for men and women. He has also increased the power of the U.S. inside FIFA.

Critics would say: That Gulati shouldn’t be rewarded with four more years as U.S. Soccer president after the disaster of missing World Cup 2018; and that U.S. Soccer leadership under Gulati has moved too far in the direction of administration and money and too far away from the soccer itself.

Eric Wynalda

Who is he? One of the greatest forwards the U.S. has ever produced. An outspoken critic of Gulati and many other facets of U.S. Soccer, Wynalda has worked in recent years as an NASL coach and in the media for Fox Sports and SiriusXM. He is expected to announce his candidacy as early as this weekend.

Supporters would say: That Wynalda is the charismatic figure of sweeping change that U.S. Soccer needs who could ride a Trump-like wave of anger toward the current regime to victory. As someone who knows soccer, Wynalda would certainly be an anti-establishment candidate open to instituting promotion/relegation and creating a more open market in the United States.

Critics would say: That Wynalda doesn’t have the temperament to be U.S. Soccer president and doesn’t have enough experience in management.

WHO IS CONFIRMED TO BE CONSIDERING RUNNING?

Landon Donovan

Who is he? One of the greatest players in U.S. soccer history.

Supporters would say: That Donovan cares deeply about the sport and has the hardcore soccer background to re-balance the soccer and business sides in U.S. Soccer. It’s also likely that Donovan could gain the support of the MLS-based voters who would be uncomfortable supporting any of the other candidates.

Critics would say: That Donovan hasn’t demonstrated any previous ability to hire coaches or manage an organization.

Charlie Stillitano

Who is he? The chair of Relevent Sports, which organizes International Champions Cup summer preseason games for top European soccer teams in the United States. SI.com has called Stillitano “the best-connected American in European soccer.” He also hosts a show on SiriusXM.

Supporters would say: That Stillitano is a soccer guy who knows the biggest names in the sport and also know how to stand up to the U.S. Soccer establishment, having clashed with them for years over his summer tournaments; and that Stillitano would make sweeping changes without being as potentially volatile as Wynalda.

Critics would say: That Stillitano wasn’t successful as the GM of the MLS MetroStars and has too many antagonists in U.S. Soccer to get things done.

WHO ARE POTENTIAL REALISTIC CANDIDATES WHO ARE CONFIRMED TO NOT BE INTERESTED IN RUNNING?

Joe Cummings (current consultant, former head of National Soccer Coaches Association of America, former member of New England Revolution leadership).

Julie Foudy (two-time World Cup winner, former USWNT captain, former president of Women’s Sports Foundation, current ESPN journalist).

Nelson Rodriguez (Chicago Fire general manager)

Claudio Reyna (NYCFC sporting director)

Brad Friedel (U.S. men’s Under-19 coach)

Rocco Commisso (owner, New York Cosmos)

Rishi Sehgal (NASL interim commissioner)

John Motta (president, U.S. Adult Soccer Association)

Angela Hucles (member of U.S. Soccer Athletes Council, two-time Olympic gold medalist, former president of Women’s Sports Foundation)

Mia Hamm (two-time World Cup and Olympics winner, part-owner LAFC)

Kyle Martino (former USMNT player, current NBC Sports analyst)

Dave Checketts (former owner Real Salt Lake, former NBA GM)

Alexi Lalas (former USMNT World Cup player, current Fox Sports analyst, not interested in U.S. Soccer presidency “despite the undeniable fact that I would be awesome. Besides, they can’t afford me.”)

WHO ARE QUALIFIED, POTENTIAL CANDIDATES WHO HAVE YET TO DENY OR ACKNOWLEDGE INTEREST?

This is a fluid list, and the lack of confirmation is connected to different factors that include an inability to reach them. The list of potential Major League Soccer/Soccer United Marketing nominees are people who the MLS/SUM power structure might turn to at some point if they feel they want a favorable candidate who isn’t Gulati.

Tim Leiweke (former AEG chair, currently working to confirm David Beckham’s MLS team in Miami)

Mary Harvey (management consultant, World Cup and Olympics winner, served on U.S. Soccer board for 12 years, former FIFA director of development)

Potential MLS/SUM power structure nominees (Portland owner Merritt Paulson, Seattle owner Adrian Hanauer, Dallas owner Dan Hunt, Soccer United Marketing president Kathy Carter, New England owner Jonathan Kraft)

Ali Curtis (former New York Red Bulls sporting director)

Chris Klein (LA Galaxy president)

Garth Lagerwey (Seattle Sounders president of soccer)

WHO ARE SOME INTERESTING SUGGESTIONS I HAVE HEARD FROM TOTALLY OUTSIDE THE SOCCER WORLD?

Mark Cuban

Condoleezza Rice

Jerry Colangelo

Mitt Romney

(One person suggested the creation of a GoFundMe page for a member of the American Outlaws supporters group. The fund would support the member if they won the presidency, which is an unpaid position.)

The Nationals Invite Chaos Yet Again by Letting Manager Dusty Baker Go

Another high-profile manager has bitten the dust. On Friday afternoon, the Nationals announced that they would not be bringing back Dusty Baker, who has been their skipper for the last two seasons, putting him on the unemployment line alongside Terry Collins (Mets), Brad Ausmus (Tigers) and John Farrell (Red Sox). But unlike those firings, the Nationals’ dismissal of Baker feels like an unfair move and an unforced error for a Washington team that seems to reject organizational stability like a bad organ transplant.

Baker, whose contract expired after the season, was coming off his second straight NL East title in the nation’s capitol, having led this year’s Nationals to 97 wins. The sheer awfulness of the rest of the division helped Washington secure that crown—second-place Miami finished 20 games back—but Baker was also forced to contend with several big injuries. He lost starting centerfielder Adam Eaton for the season in April, was without shortstop Trea Turner for months, and didn’t have the services of Bryce Harper for virtually the entire second half. He also had to deal with a horrible bullpen that torched several games in the first half, necessitating a full-blown relief corps makeover at the trade deadline.

But for all the good Baker wrangled out of that group, he and the Nationals were once again defeated by the familiar foe that is the Division Series, losing in five games to the Cubs. Unlike 2016, when they blew a 2–1 series lead to the Dodgers, this year’s Nationals dropped two of the first three, then forced a Game 5 after Stephen Strasburg’s terrific (and oddly dramatic) start. But despite taking an early 4–1 lead at home in the finale, Washington collapsed in horrifying fashion, throwing the game and series away (literally, at times) in a painful 9–8 defeat that finished them and Baker.

“I’m surprised and disappointed,” Baker told USA TODAY Sports after his firing, noting that the Nationals had let him twist in the wind for over a week. “I really thought this was my best year…. It’s hard to understand.”

You can make a case for cutting ties with Baker. The Division Series loss wasn’t a strong effort, marred by his questionable decision to pull Max Scherzer in Game 3 and the circus surrounding Strasburg’s start in Game 4. Consecutive first-round postseason exits for a team with championship aspirations isn’t a point in his favor; just ask Farrell, who was dumped after Boston’s dispiriting loss to the Astros despite being the owner of a World Series ring. Baker, meanwhile, is a man who has struggled to adjust to baseball’s new era. His lineups were static and archaic; his bullpen strategy was anything but flexible; and his starting pitcher management harkened back to an older time. If any other organization had pulled the plug, this move might be questioned, but it wouldn’t seem out of line.

But the Nationals haven’t earned that benefit of the doubt. Baker is the seventh manager they’ve had in just 13 years of existence. The man he replaced, Matt Williams, nearly tore his team apart through mismanagement both on the field and in the clubhouse but was kept for two full seasons. And Baker wasn’t even Washington’s first choice to take Williams’ place when he was finally fired in 2015: Now-Rockies manager Bud Black accepted the gig, but negotiations fell apart after the Lerner family—which owns the team—lowballed him with a one-year, $1.6 million offer. After he backed out, the Nationals brought in Baker (who had already been told that he’d been rejected for the job) on a two-year, $4 million deal, or roughly half of what he’d made as the manager of the Reds in 2013.

That drama aside, Baker proved to be the right hire. Long heralded as a players’ manager, he was brought in expressly to help re-unite an unhappy roster, and by all accounts, he did that—and he also won close to 200 games and two division titles in two years. He brought a semblance of calm to a team that had thoroughly lacked it. But even with general manager Mike Rizzo reportedly in his corner, that wasn’t enough to save him. It likely didn’t help matters that, back in June, he vented to the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes about his frustration over not getting a contract extension—a move that apparently angered the Lerners and likely sealed his fate.

It’s hard to understand exactly how the Nationals plan on doing better than what Baker already accomplished, or how canning a popular and successful manager will sit well with the players. Most important will be the reaction of Harper, who will enter the final year of his contract under his fourth manager in seven seasons. The former NL MVP will hit free agency in 2018 looking for the biggest payout in the history of the game and will have baseball’s two richest and most rock-solid franchises—the Dodgers and Yankees—eager to lavish him with cash. How much of a chance will a tight-fisted Nationals organization that burns through managers like George Steinbrenner in his prime stand against them? How eager will he be to stay in Washington, where the only constant is change?

Here, then, is the task before whomever the Nationals hire. Win over Harper. Keep a clubhouse full of veterans who liked your predecessor happy. Win the NL East, then the Division Series, then ideally the pennant and, if possible, bring home a World Series for the first time in franchise history. Do all of this despite an ownership group that won’t commit to anything long-term and will pinch pennies the entire way. And know, in the back of your mind, that anything but this level of success will likely be met with an unceremonious departure.

The Nationals could have chosen to stay the course with Baker and made one last run with this group—one good enough to win the World Series if everything shakes out right. Instead, they’ll court chaos and throw a new man into the fold with a one-year window and a superstar who is probably counting the days until he can leave for an organization where dysfunction doesn’t rule the day. The Lerners may talk of doing better, but all they’ve guaranteed by firing Baker is more instability and volatility when they least needed it.

For Baker, meanwhile, this move is just plain sad. No manager in baseball history has ever gotten as close to the mountaintop and never reached it as many times as he has. His career will be defined by Game 6 of the 2002 World Series, Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS and all other the clinching games his team couldn’t finish. Maybe he’ll get one more shot with a veteran team and one more chance at that elusive World Series ring. But if this is the end for Baker—he’s said he won’t retire, but at 68, his future on the bench is up in the air—then he deserved better.

The Nationals Invite Chaos Yet Again by Letting Manager Dusty Baker Go

Another high-profile manager has bitten the dust. On Friday afternoon, the Nationals announced that they would not be bringing back Dusty Baker, who has been their skipper for the last two seasons, putting him on the unemployment line alongside Terry Collins (Mets), Brad Ausmus (Tigers) and John Farrell (Red Sox). But unlike those firings, the Nationals’ dismissal of Baker feels like an unfair move and an unforced error for a Washington team that seems to reject organizational stability like a bad organ transplant.

Baker, whose contract expired after the season, was coming off his second straight NL East title in the nation’s capitol, having led this year’s Nationals to 97 wins. The sheer awfulness of the rest of the division helped Washington secure that crown—second-place Miami finished 20 games back—but Baker was also forced to contend with several big injuries. He lost starting centerfielder Adam Eaton for the season in April, was without shortstop Trea Turner for months, and didn’t have the services of Bryce Harper for virtually the entire second half. He also had to deal with a horrible bullpen that torched several games in the first half, necessitating a full-blown relief corps makeover at the trade deadline.

But for all the good Baker wrangled out of that group, he and the Nationals were once again defeated by the familiar foe that is the Division Series, losing in five games to the Cubs. Unlike 2016, when they blew a 2–1 series lead to the Dodgers, this year’s Nationals dropped two of the first three, then forced a Game 5 after Stephen Strasburg’s terrific (and oddly dramatic) start. But despite taking an early 4–1 lead at home in the finale, Washington collapsed in horrifying fashion, throwing the game and series away (literally, at times) in a painful 9–8 defeat that finished them and Baker.

“I’m surprised and disappointed,” Baker told USA TODAY Sports after his firing, noting that the Nationals had let him twist in the wind for over a week. “I really thought this was my best year…. It’s hard to understand.”

You can make a case for cutting ties with Baker. The Division Series loss wasn’t a strong effort, marred by his questionable decision to pull Max Scherzer in Game 3 and the circus surrounding Strasburg’s start in Game 4. Consecutive first-round postseason exits for a team with championship aspirations isn’t a point in his favor; just ask Farrell, who was dumped after Boston’s dispiriting loss to the Astros despite being the owner of a World Series ring. Baker, meanwhile, is a man who has struggled to adjust to baseball’s new era. His lineups were static and archaic; his bullpen strategy was anything but flexible; and his starting pitcher management harkened back to an older time. If any other organization had pulled the plug, this move might be questioned, but it wouldn’t seem out of line.

But the Nationals haven’t earned that benefit of the doubt. Baker is the seventh manager they’ve had in just 13 years of existence. The man he replaced, Matt Williams, nearly tore his team apart through mismanagement both on the field and in the clubhouse but was kept for two full seasons. And Baker wasn’t even Washington’s first choice to take Williams’ place when he was finally fired in 2015: Now-Rockies manager Bud Black accepted the gig, but negotiations fell apart after the Lerner family—which owns the team—lowballed him with a one-year, $1.6 million offer. After he backed out, the Nationals brought in Baker (who had already been told that he’d been rejected for the job) on a two-year, $4 million deal, or roughly half of what he’d made as the manager of the Reds in 2013.

That drama aside, Baker proved to be the right hire. Long heralded as a players’ manager, he was brought in expressly to help re-unite an unhappy roster, and by all accounts, he did that—and he also won close to 200 games and two division titles in two years. He brought a semblance of calm to a team that had thoroughly lacked it. But even with general manager Mike Rizzo reportedly in his corner, that wasn’t enough to save him. It likely didn’t help matters that, back in June, he vented to the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes about his frustration over not getting a contract extension—a move that apparently angered the Lerners and likely sealed his fate.

It’s hard to understand exactly how the Nationals plan on doing better than what Baker already accomplished, or how canning a popular and successful manager will sit well with the players. Most important will be the reaction of Harper, who will enter the final year of his contract under his fourth manager in seven seasons. The former NL MVP will hit free agency in 2018 looking for the biggest payout in the history of the game and will have baseball’s two richest and most rock-solid franchises—the Dodgers and Yankees—eager to lavish him with cash. How much of a chance will a tight-fisted Nationals organization that burns through managers like George Steinbrenner in his prime stand against them? How eager will he be to stay in Washington, where the only constant is change?

Here, then, is the task before whomever the Nationals hire. Win over Harper. Keep a clubhouse full of veterans who liked your predecessor happy. Win the NL East, then the Division Series, then ideally the pennant and, if possible, bring home a World Series for the first time in franchise history. Do all of this despite an ownership group that won’t commit to anything long-term and will pinch pennies the entire way. And know, in the back of your mind, that anything but this level of success will likely be met with an unceremonious departure.

The Nationals could have chosen to stay the course with Baker and made one last run with this group—one good enough to win the World Series if everything shakes out right. Instead, they’ll court chaos and throw a new man into the fold with a one-year window and a superstar who is probably counting the days until he can leave for an organization where dysfunction doesn’t rule the day. The Lerners may talk of doing better, but all they’ve guaranteed by firing Baker is more instability and volatility when they least needed it.

For Baker, meanwhile, this move is just plain sad. No manager in baseball history has ever gotten as close to the mountaintop and never reached it as many times as he has. His career will be defined by Game 6 of the 2002 World Series, Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS and all other the clinching games his team couldn’t finish. Maybe he’ll get one more shot with a veteran team and one more chance at that elusive World Series ring. But if this is the end for Baker—he’s said he won’t retire, but at 68, his future on the bench is up in the air—then he deserved better.

Running backs in spotlight as No. 11 USC visits No. 13 Irish

FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2017, file photo, Notre Dame running back Josh Adams heads for the end zone on a touchdown run during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Miami (Ohio) in South Bend, Ind. No. 11 Southern California visits. No. 13 Notre Dame for a showdown on Saturday night. The two quarterbacks are likely to play an important role, but the key players might be the running backs. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

Georgia Tech hosts Wake Forest coming off another tough loss

Miami place kicker Michael Badgley (15) waves to the crowd as he leaves the field after Miami defeated Georgia Tech 25-24 in an NCAA College football game, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Georgia Tech hosts Wake Forest coming off another tough loss

Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall, right, fakes a handoff to running back KirVonte Benson (30) during the first half of an NCAA College football game against Miami, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Georgia Tech hosts Wake Forest coming off another tough loss

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson talks with quarterback TaQuon Marshall (16) during the first half of an NCAA College football game against Miami, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Worker Killed In NW Miami-Dade

The worker is believed to have fallen between 30 to 40 feet.

Worker Killed In NW Miami-Dade

The worker is believed to have fallen between 30 to 40 feet.

Worker Killed In NW Miami-Dade

The worker is believed to have fallen between 30 to 40 feet.

Worker Killed In NW Miami-Dade

The worker is believed to have fallen between 30 to 40 feet.

In debito con Cleveland?

“Non devo niente a nessuno. Finché indosserò questa maglia, voglio essere d’ispirazione per questa gente”, ha dichiarato LeBron a proposito del suo trasferimento da Cleveland a Miami nel 2010. “The King” è tornato a Cleveland nel 2014, dove ha vinto il titolo NBA 2016. (foto Instagram)

Re James

Il soprannome di LeBron non è casuale: se lo è guadagnato sul campo, vincendo tre volte il titolo NBA (due con Miami, uno con Cleveland) ed essendo stato nominato MVP per 4 stagioni. (foto Instagram)

2 Dead In Multi-Vehicle Crash On Turnpike

Two people were killed in an early morning multi-vehicle accident on the Florida Turnpike Extension in southwest Miami-Dade.

2 Dead In Multi-Vehicle Crash On Turnpike

Two people were killed in an early morning multi-vehicle accident on the Florida Turnpike Extension in southwest Miami-Dade.

2 Dead In Multi-Vehicle Crash On Turnpike

Two people were killed in an early morning multi-vehicle accident on the Florida Turnpike Extension in southwest Miami-Dade.