Results tagged ‘ Buck Showalter ’

Baltimore Orioles: Did the Birds win DESPITE Buck Showalter?

Former Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter was not hired by the Houston Astros this week. That distinction instead went to Dusty Baker. This off season Showalter interviewed with Philadelphia, the NY Mets, and now Houston. None of which offered him the managerial job.

Admittedly I’m surprised and disappointed in that development. I fully expected Buck to have a job this year if he wanted one – which the act of him interviewing says that he did. There are two “knocks” on Buck however as a manager. The first is that his insistence upon attention to detail can grow cumbersome.

And that may well have occurred in Baltimore. I know that it did in other places – such as Arizona, where he apparently threw a fit about the colors of the carpet in the clubhouse not matching up perfectly with the team colors. Speaking for myself, I’m somewhat detail-oriented myself. So I don’t have an issue with a manager who’s going to cover all of his bases to a T. That’s how it should be.

The other “knock” on Buck is that he doesn’t embrace analytics. Now not having been a player, I can’t tell you how analytically-driven Buck was or was not. However everyone has to use some sort of analytical approach in baseball. It’s part of the game. Buck’s point however is that you have to still have a feel for the game. And a lot of that is being lost with analytics.

So while I personally may be on board with Buck Showalter’s old school approach as stated above, did that potentially cost him a job? Furthermore, did the Orioles of the 2010’s win DESPITE Buck not embracing new age ways of operating? My personal view is that they won partly BECAUSE of Buck. And that opinion won’t change. But what do you think?

Baltimore Orioles: Buck Showalter interviewed with Houston

Former Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter interviewed yesterday with the Houston Astros earlier this week for their managerial job. Showalter of course led the O’s from August of 2010 through the culmination of the 2018 season. Showalter led the O’s to their first playoff birth since 1997 in 2012, and their first division crown in as much time in 2014. His contract was not renewed at the end of 2018.

Personally I think it would be a perfect situation for Buck. It would probably be the most talented team by far that he would have inherited in his career. It’s a championship-caliber team, that will probably have a chip on it’s shoulder given the scandal which has erupted. Buck’s probably just the type of manager who would be able to put a stop to the type of antics which got Houston into this mess to begin with.

The flip side of course is the Orioles. More specifically, the Orioles’ fans. While it would be tougher to see him go to Boston because they’re in the Orioles’ division, I think it would be hard for a lot of people seeing Buck manage another team. And I’m not going to lie, you can count this non-biased writer as one of them.

While I understood why the Orioles wanted to make a clean break and go in a totally different direction after 2018, I did feel that Showalter should have had the opportunity to come back if he wanted to do so. I still feel that way. It wasn’t just the fact that he put a winning product on the field for the first time in so many years, it was that he restored pride to an organization and a city that had searched for it for so long.

That’s Buck Showalter’s legacy in Baltimore. It’s simple, but poetic. He restored pride to the Orioles. And in large part to the fans as well. He often said that he “got Baltimore.” And that’s important; it’s a city that a lot of people find difficult to “get,” for one reason or another. So would it be tough to see him in another uniform? Absolutely. But that’s how this business of baseball works sometimes.

Former Toronto manager John Gibbons is also reportedly going to interview for the job. Which direction they go is another story, but ANY organization would be lucky to have Buck Showalter at the helm. With that said, Orioles fans shouldn’t blame manager Brandon Hyde for not being Buck. Yes, personally I believe that Buck should still be here. But that’s not to say that Hyde isn’t a good guy for the job, and that he isn’t doing a decent job.

For what it’s worth, Houston comes to Camden Yards for a three-game set on Friday, June 5th. If Buck Showalter’s in the third base side visitors’ dugout, my hope is that Baltimore turns out that night and that weekend and shows it’s appreciation.

Baltimore Orioles: Does swagger overcome skill?

Over the last decade I’ve covered some of the best Baltimore Orioles’ teams, as well as the worst. For the record, the worst team was probably the 2018 O’s. And that still has me scratching my head, incidentally. But the best? The 2014 AL East Champion Orioles.

About that 2014 team…in my view they were the best in baseball that year. Hands down. Justifiably, that should have been the franchise’s fourth World Series Championship. Not only were they a championship-caliber team, but they handled themselves as true professionals. As only a true Buck Showalter-led team can be.

The O’s of course were tripped up in the ALCS by a Kansas City Royals team that was on a mission. Professionalism was put on the back burner by that group, as their only focus was winning the game. And win they did. Again, I personally believe that the O’s were the best team in baseball that year. Yet a team with swagger, confidence, and joie de vivre defeated this power-hitting team by way of broken bat singles and hunts. The Birds were paper cut to death.

When I watched last night’s Ravens’ playoff game against Tennessee, I had flashbacks to that ALCS. Once again, Baltimore was the better team – on paper. Once again, you had an opponent who came in with a lot of momentum and a lot of swagger. And they somehow defeated a Baltimore team that they shouldn’t have. And if you look at Tennessee’s offensive numbers last night, they kind of paper cut the Ravens to death. (Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw for 88 yards last night – and two touchdowns.)

So…does swagger outdo skill? If you take the 2014 Orioles (and Royals) and the 2019 Ravens (and Titans), perhaps it does. Heck, look at the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles defeating the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Did anyone other than Philadelphia see that coming?

Look at a team near and dear to my heart, the current Maryland Terrapins’ basketball team. This is a team that’s loaded with talent. They were outdone the other night by an Iowa team that had noticeably less talent. But which did have swagger. The same is true of the Terps’ loss earlier in the season against Penn State.

This isn’t a recent phenomenon, incidentally. The 1969 NY Jets famously defeated the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl. You see the same thing there. A great team was beaten by a team less-skilled team who simply believed they could shove it down their opponents’ throats.

So if swagger wins games, why isn’t every team full of it? I’m not sure it’s quite that simple. You have to play with swagger and live with it. All of the teams I’ve mentioned totally threw caution to the wind. They so hated the concept of losing, they became unafraid of it. Outwardly that makes little sense, but again consider the 2014 Royals. If you look at the determination they had in their eyes to win, it almost looks like the Orioles were playing not to lose. The same is true of the Titans last night.

This attitude is merciless to opponents. Again, any break the Royals and Titans caught in games, they exploited. And they weren’t shy about tell you. Again, it’s too easy to suggest that anyone who believes he’s going to win and is willing to take risks will do so. But maybe there’s something to be said for confidence. Obviously, however, skill means something also.

Baltimore Orioles: All-decade manager

The Baltimore Orioles and the rest of the world find themselves on the last day of the decade today. Tomorrow begins the 2020’s. Here I was thinking that “the ’20’s” were a thing of the past – as in the decade in which my grandparents were born. Little did I know that they’d be in my own future!

However it goes without saying that Buck Showalter is the Orioles’ unofficial manager of the decade for the 2010’s. If for no other reason, he was the skipper for the majority of those ten years. But it goes deeper than that.

Showalter brought pride back to the Orioles’ organization. The O’s has gone through perhaps a decade or so of faceless teams in a sense, where guys perhaps were cashing a paycheck more so than trying to win. Showalter put a stop to that.

He embraced the Baltimore community, saying on more than one occasion that he “got Baltimore.” But the sum of the parts were that he won. The pride that he restored to the clubhouse and that he restored to the community (pride in the team) all came to a head on the field. He returned the Orioles to the postseason in 2012, won the AL East in 2014, and went to the playoffs again in 2016.

Granted, that era in Orioles’ history is always going to be absent a World Series title. But given what the previous decade plus had been in Birdland, these years will be seen as extremely meaningful. And the cost of it all? ONE BUCK.

Baltimore Orioles: Is Buck Showalter heading home?

Former Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter was under consideration for several managerial jobs. He actually interviewed with Philadelphia, but was also being considered for the NY Mets and possibly even the Anaheim Angels. To this point, no soap in terms of finding a team.

Technically the Pittsburgh Pirates’ job is still open. However oddly enough, Dan Duquette is also under consideration for the GM job there. Duquette and Showalter reportedly didn’t always see eye-to-eye in Baltimore. So odds are if Duquette ends up being the guy they hire, I wouldn’t look for Buck to get the job in Pittsburgh – who incidentally appears to be going about their managerial search the right way in that they’re looking for a General Manager first.

So what does that mean for Buck? It probably means that he won’t be managing in 2020, as of right now. All of the aforementioned teams have hired someone or are on the verge of doing so. Thus I suspect that Buck Showalter, who brought the Orioles out of the depths of the doldrums, is heading home.

I have to say that I’m surprised. While there was certainly interest by several teams, I would have thought that a manager such as Buck Showalter would have been one of the first hired. So what exactly worked against him?

Odds are we’ll never know. However Showalter does have the reputation of doing things his own way. I always recall the story of when he managed the Arizona Diamondbacks and raised a hullabaloo about the fact that the red on the carpet in the home clubhouse didn’t precisely match the red on the jerseys. Buck’s a perfectionist; to a fault, as many might point out. To the point that he almost becomes a burden.

And it wouldn’t shock me to hear at some point that part of what moved the Orioles to move on from him was that type of attention to detail. And I say that with admiration – because I’m the exact same way. And I’ve seen it in my own life; I’m told that I get a little too in your face when it comes to attention to detail. And sometimes that drives people away. So while it sounds like I’m calling Showalter out, I’m actually not. Because I have a similar worldview in that regard.

Another knock on Buck is that he doesn’t really buy into any of the new-age analytics, which caused the majority of his downfall in Baltimore. However I would also say this; look at what happened to Houston the other night. They picked a heck of a time to have their computer analytics fail them – in game seven of the World Series. So while old school, can we really say that the game’s passed Buck by? Apparently many GM’s and owners feel that it has. But again, when you put all of your faith in computers as opposed to people…sometimes that’s going to happen.

I do think that if he wants to do so, Buck will manage again. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him called in as an interim manager when and if a team dismisses their manager early in the season. But for now, while not set in stone, it appears that he’s staying home.

Baltimore Orioles: Bucking the trend in Philly?

Former Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter interviewed with the Philadelphia Phillies for their managerial opening on Monday. Philadelphia also reportedly interviewed Dusty Baker. The meetings took place in New York.

Both men are qualified. And the Philadelphia Phillies would be lucky to have either one manning their dugout. However in reviewing my twitter feed over the past few days, I’ve noticed something – about Orioles’ fans. A lot of them seem to be taking a jilted at the altar view towards the idea of Buck returning to the dugout. Mainly because at one point while in Baltimore he said that the Orioles would be his final managing job.

First off, people change. When he said that he may well have meant it. To his credit, Buck’s never been the type of guy to give lip service. He wouldn’t have said that just to endear himself to fans. But that isn’t to suggest that his view on the matter couldn’t have changed between then and now. I suspect that if he had his way he would still be managing the Orioles, perhaps also acting as the GM. But that’s not something that’s on the table for him.

So he has two choices: either stay out of baseball, or try to get back in. It appears that he’s taking the latter route. Whether it’s in Philadelphia or elsewhere, I personally believe that Buck Showalter will be managing in 2020. And to be honest, Philadelphia should have a certain appeal to him…

…their GM is Andy MacPhail He of course was the GM who hired Buck in Baltimore. Numerous other former members of the Orioles’ front office and scouting department have also migrated north to Philadelphia. So Showalter would find a group with which he was familiar if he were offered the job, and if he took it.

He would also find a city with many quirks – much like Baltimore. Buck always said I get Baltimore during his time here. Philadelphia is similar in that the city has it’s ebbs and flows, and the people are passionate about their city and their region.

One challenge would be that Showalter famously does things his own way. At almost every turn of the way, teams eventually soured on that way of doing things. So…were the Orioles any different? I would say yes. Showalter wasn’t fired; his contract expired. And if a franchise is ever in a spot to go in a different direction, it would have been the Orioles at that point of time. So I’m not sure that the Orioles actually soured on Buck as much as they opted to go in another direction. Either way he ceased to be here.

However again, Orioles fans shouldn’t feel jilted if he goes to another team. My hope would be that they’d be happy for him. Anyone who observed the dynamic Showalter had with the city, the fans, and the players while he was in Baltimore is going to know that Baltimore will always be special to Buck. And needless to say, he’ll always be special to the fans of Baltimore.

Baltimore Orioles: Sympathy for St. Louis fans

The Baltimore Orioles felt that they had a legit shot at a World Series title in 2014. After Delmon Young‘s bases-clearing double to in effect win game two of the ALDS and an anti-climactic win in game three to close out Detroit, they had momentum. Then they ran into a buzz saw in Kansas City.

In the Kansas City Royals, they found not only an opponent who equaled their belief in themselves, but one who wanted to do everything in it’s power to squash their opponent. As Buck Showalter would often say, some days you’re the windshield and some days you’re the bug.

In watching this year’s NLCS, I see some similarities. St. Louis won a big game five in Atlanta to get to that stage. A game in which they put up ten runs in the first inning to win. They felt they had momentum, and they believed. Now they’ve run into the Washington Nationals.

Now this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison by any means. First off, the 2014 Orioles were a power-hitting team, and Kansas City won games on broken bat and bloop singles. In this case it’s Washington who’s more of the power-hitting team. However they’re also the team who’s seemingly got more pep than a high school cheerleading squad. That’s part of what carried Kansas City in 2014 and 2015.

So I suppose what I’m saying is that Orioles fans know what St. Louis fans are doing through right about now. I remember getting read to cover Game Four of that ALCS with Kansas City up three games to zero. My attitude was almost is there really a point to playing this game? Obviously that’s probably a bad attitude to have, but you get the point.

There is one other area in which these situations differ. Kansas City made sure that the Orioles knew they were going down, and they made sure that the Orioles saw their celebrations. Down the stretch there were numerous gestures made towards the Orioles from the Kansas City dugout in those games. I’ve seen nothing that indicates Washington’s team has guys capable of that sort of disrespect.

However the point is that Orioles fans probably get St. Louis fans in this instance. Of course you want to believe it’s possible that you can come back and so forth. However in the back of your mind you know it’s all but a done deal. And ultimately if St. Louis is able to pull off what the 2014 Orioles couldn’t (and win a game in the series), it’ll feel almost like a one-day stay of execution.

Baltimore Orioles: Should Buck Showalter return to baseball?

It’s been just over a year since we came to find out that Buck Showalter would not be returning to the Baltimore Orioles. Just a point of semantics, Showalter wasn’t fired. His contract was up, and the Orioles decided to move on. There is a difference.

Respected Orioles’ beat writer Rich Dubroff of http://baltimorebaseball.com wrote this piece this morning surrounding Showalter and the various job openings around the league. First off, I agree with Dubroff’s main theme in that baseball is a better game with Buck Showalter in it. And by in it, I mean in the dugout managing. As you may remember Showalter did some in-studio work for the YES Network on New York Yankees games in the second half of the season. But I’m talking in the dugout – baseball’s a better game with Buck in the dugout.

There are a wide array of jobs open as Dubroff lays out in his article. He seems to believe that Philadelphia’s job may be in play, which is of course possible. It would be interesting to see how Buck would fit into that environment. With a rabid fan base and a tough media; how would his “Buckisms” faire?

Obviously the Chicago Cubs would be a job he might consider, if only for the fact that it might offer him the best chance at winning a World Series. What would really be interesting is if he ended up signing with a team who comes through Oriole Park at Camden Yards next year – which Chicago does. I suspect that Orioles fans would love the opportunity to have Buck come back into Camden Yards as a visitor.

I think it boils down to what Buck wants to do. He became a grandfather for the first time in 2017, and my personal opinion is that something along those lines is probably a game changer. Once you’re into “the grind” of grandparenting, maybe some of the other things in your life aren’t quite as important. However if Buck wants to manager again, I suspect that there would be no shortage of teams who would be interested.

Baltimore Orioles: Final game of this decade

Today the Baltimore Orioles close not only the 2019 season, but also a decade that will forever be special in Birdland. The next time the Birds take the field it will be 2020, and thus a new decade. (The Roaring 20’s?!) So today ends the 2010’s.

And what a memorable decade this was. First off, the Orioles and the rest of the league all play at 3 PM EST this afternoon. The league took note of the closing act of 2011, in which the Orioles savagely beat Boston in walk off fashion, and five minutes later Tampa did the same to NY – the combination of the two acts sending Tampa to the post season and sending Boston home. So at some point the league decided to have the last day feature games at the same time so as to potentially have something along those lines occur again.

Obviously the success of this past decade can be traced back and attributed to Buck Showalter. His leadership propelled the likes of Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Manny Machado, Nick Markakis, J.J. Hardy and others to greatness. Some of you reading this will point out that the O’s never won a World Series in this timeframe, and that’a undebatable. However after 14 consecutive losing seasons and multiple embarrassments in that span, are you really going to let the lack of a World Series define that era?

The 2012 Orioles shocked the world. And it was literally a season-long process – shocking the world, that is. They took the momentum garnered after bouncing Boston from the playoffs in 2011 and paid it forward. There were people who didn’t truly believe in the Orioles having a shot at the post season until they had actually clinched. But they made it, and won the inaugural AL Wild Card Game in Texas.

We all know the rest. Two years later the O’s were AL East Champions, and two years after that they returned to the post season as a wild card team. However all good things must come to an end. And the 2010’s-era Orioles has their fall from grace as well. They were competitive in 2017 until the final month, when they just fell off. Then 2018 obviously was a disaster, causing wholesale changes across the board.

But when fans think back on this decade of Orioles baseball, my hope is that they remember the good times. Because the fact is that they far outweigh the bad. By a long shot. Think back to moments such as this oneDelmon Young‘s bases clearing double in the 2014 ALDS against Detroit.

Incidentally, as a writer I try my best to call things down the middle. Sure I cover the Orioles and thus write from the Orioles’ perspective, but I try not to cheerlead. But watching that clip still sends shivers down my spine (in a manner that only baseball can induce). You can hear the crowd, and hear the announcer straining just to have his voice heard over the fans. And that’s very consistent with my own memories of that moment.

That was not only the loudest I had ever heard Camden Yards, but the loudest I had ever heard any stadium. It was one of those moments that you just won’t ever forget. Nary one person in the park that day didn’t feel that Baltimore was collecting penance in that moment for all of the losing and embarrassments over the years.

It was unforgettable. And personally I think it’s the moment which personifies and symbolizes this decade of Orioles baseball. Again, it’s easy to look at that and say wow look how far they’ve fallen. But the fact is that this was one of the most successful decades in some time for the Orioles. Never forget that.

And yes folks, it closes today. But I think most fans believe that the organization is headed in the right direction. Those days could be returning in the future. Oh and there’s one other thing people should keep in mind when thinking of the 2010’s and Orioles baseball. The price of admission? ONE BUCK.

Baltimore Orioles: Can success make you soft?

The 2014 Baltimore Orioles were the most successful version of the team in a generation. This much we know. However if you ask some people, part of the reason that Buck Showalter‘s team ran away with the division that year was because the AL East was weak.

In essence, they won by default. I don’t buy that, as that team was as solid as anyone else. They won the division at home in dramatic but semi-anticlimactic fashion two weeks before the end of the season. They then swept the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS, a series that included a blowout in game one, and a dramatic bases-clearing double by Delmon Young in game two.

But after that, they were swept in the ALCS by Kansas City. And they looked fairly inept in doing so. Now there are technical reasons why that series swung the way that it did. But…did the success already sustained distract the Birds to an extent?

Sports is a business in which you can’t really celebrate success for too long. Especially in baseball where you play everyday. It’s the ultimate what have you done for me lately sport. If you go 0-for-4 one night, it isn’t acceptable to respond by saying yeah but I hit two grand slams last night. Nobody cares. You have to keep your foot on the gas.

Only the players involved know if they became “overly-satisfied” in that moment. I don’t think they did, because as I said there were technical reasons as to why they lost that series. But the key to sustained success in effect is sustained hunger. If you cease to be hungry, it becomes easier to defeat you.

Again, I’m not saying that happened to the 2014 Orioles. But that is a fact. You have to keep the pressure up in sports, otherwise someone else who’s hungrier will come along.

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