The Buck Showalter era will always be special to Baltimore Orioles’ fans. This much we all know, and can probably agree. There were lots of moments during that time period which were special. But is there one to which we can point as the “signature moment” of the entire era?
That’s all a matter of opinion. And as I said, there are quite a few from which to choose. Buck loading the bases to match up in game three of the ALDS in 2014 might be up there. So might the numerous Machado gold glove-caliber plays at third base. Again, this is all a matter of opinion.
But I’ll give you mine. If I had to pick one singular moment that personified the Buck Showalter era in Baltimore, it would be Delmon Young‘s bases-clearing double in the 2014 ALDS. The O’s of course had taken game one against Detroit the previous night in fairly easy fashion. Fast-forward to game two the following afternoon. The Birds trailed Detroit 6-3 in the middle innings…
…but they slowly chipped away at the lead. Before anyone realized what was going on, the O’s had cut the lead to 6-4 in the last of the eighth with the bases loaded. Buck summoned Delmon Young to pinch hit, in hopes of continuing the rally.
But it wasn’t a rally that was occurring. It was a donnybrook. Young swung at the first pitch, sending a line drive into the left field corner. From the outset you could see that at least two runs would score, tying the game. But as J.J. Hardy rounded third and headed for home, you knew there was a chance that the O’s could take the lead.
And as Hardy slid into home plate (kicking up a cloud of dust), he was immediately ruled safe, giving the Orioles a 7-6 lead. Twenty minutes later the game was over, and the O’s went to Detroit with a 2-0 series lead. That turned into a 3-0 series sweep.
I’ve always felt that moment got overlooked just a bit because the O’s were swept in the subsequent ALCS. However the sheer drama of the moment itself isn’t why I put it forward as “the moment” of the Buck Showalter era. I suppose that’s a part of it, however to me it was all about the crowd reaction. Believe me when I say that I’ve NEVER heard ANY stadium that loud. And I attend a lot of games – both as a writer covering the O’s, and as a fan in other sports. That was the most electrifying moment I’ve ever experienced in a stadium.
And that in and of itself personifies the Showalter era. While his was a name that was well-known and so forth, most Orioles fans probably just assumed that he’d end up another failed manager in Baltimore. But when it became obvious that wasn’t going to be the case, people bought all in.
And that moment was the fans buying all in. You would have been hard-pressed to argue that the O’s weren’t going to go all the way that year when that occurred. Again, that didn’t happen. But I digress; in my view it’s “the moment” of the Showalter era. I’d love to hear about other moments about which you all feel similarly.