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Cincinnati (AFP) – Dusty Baker was fired as manager of the Cincinnati Reds on Friday, three days after the team was eliminated from the Major League Baseball playoffs.

The 64-year-old former star player spent six seasons guiding the Reds, who were beaten 6-2 at Pittsburgh on Tuesday in the National League wildcard playoff game.

Baker had one year remaining on a two-year contract.

“This was a very difficult decision to make,” said Reds president of baseball operations and general manager Walt Jocketty. “Dusty played an important role in the recent success of this organization and we thank him for his contributions during his time here.

“We feel a change is necessary, however, if we are to continue to move the organization forward.”

Cincinnati reached the playoffs three times in the past four years under Baker, winning National League Central division crowns in 2010 and 2012, but never advanced to the next round.

Baker, a manager since 1993 whose other teams included the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants, ranked second among active managers with 1,671 wins, against 1,504 defeats, and was a three-time Manager of the Year with the giants in 1993, 1997 and 2000.

But he has never guided a World Series champion, coming closest in 2002 when his Giants lost to the Los Angeles Angels in seven games.

Baker went 509-463 with the Reds, going 91-71 in 2010 to put the Reds in the playoffs for the first time since 1995. Last year, the Reds were one game from advancing before the Giants won the last three games to take the series.

AFP Photo/Jared Wickerham

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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