Results tagged ‘ Buck Showalter ’

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.

Baltimore Orioles need to honor Buck Showalter in 2019

The fact that 2019 will be a strange year for the Baltimore Orioles and their fans should go without saying. And it’s not just limited to the players on the field. Fans will have to get used to peering into the Orioles’ first base side dugout at Camden Yards and not seeing Buck Showalter manning things.

That’s not a dig at new manager Brandon Hyde. It’s merely stating a fact. As I said when Hyde was hired, fans shouldn’t dislike him simply because he’s not Buck Showalter. Because I can guarantee you that Showalter probably wouldn’t take that attitude.

That aside, the manager will simply be one difference this coming year. However I would submit that the Orioles do need to make Buck a small part of this season. I would hope that it goes without saying that he’ll be in the Orioles’ hall of fame at some point. But that’s not what I’m talking about…

…the Orioles owe it to Buck to have a “Buck Showalter day/night” at Camden Yards in 2019. I’m not sure how exactly that would work, but in essence everyone in attendance gets some sort of Buck Showalter souvenir, and have a ceremony on the field before the game honoring Buck and presenting him with some sort of award.

Let’s not forget that Buck took the organization and brought it further than it had ever gone in years. However perhaps more importantly, he restored pride to the Orioles’ organization. The same pride that Brandon Hyde is now taxed with restoring.

Too often we remember figures for how they left us – and Buck is no exception. However the Orioles and the city owe it to him to show their appreciation this year. Some of these theme nights can come across as corny for sure. But it’s an honor that Buck deserves – sooner rather than later.

Baltimore Orioles: My fickle friend

I admittedly thought it was ridiculous that a few Baltimore Orioles fans wanted to replace manager (at the time) Buck Showalter after the 2016 AL Wild Card game. Utimately those people got their wish after last year. However given Showalter’s record with the Orioles and his skills as a manager, I thought it was a bit ridiculous.

This morning I awaken to my twitter timeline full of tweets and re-tweets of Alabama Crimson Tide fans saying that the University should terminate head football coach Nick Saban. Let’s be frank; that’s an overly-emotional reaction to a situation that’s still very raw for those people – having lost the national title game last night. But…do you really want to suggest firing someone who’s considered not just Alabama royalty, but College Football royalty?

What this shows is the newly fickle nature of fans. Yes, I wrote that. We hear so much about how younger fans don’t consume sports the same ways that previous generations did. And we’re told that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And in fact it’s not. But the flip side of that is a lot of younger fans are simply going to tune out of the team isn’t meeting their goals or needs.

The Alabama case (and even the situation with Showalter) is really an extreme one. You made it to the title game, and since you lost fans want you booted? Again, that’s an emotional reaction to what’s still a very raw situation. However I’ll be honest; that type of fickleness bothers me. How can sports as an industry survive in that climate? Because let’s be honest; Alabama lost one game this year. It was obviously THE GAME, but in reality they lost one. Are we in essence saying that anything less than perfection is unacceptable?

Because if we are, sports as an industry are doomed. Heck, a lot of businesses are doomed. That’s not a standard that’s attainable. My hope is that this is simply young people shooting their mouths off. No way Nick Saban deserves to be fired for losing that game last night, especially coming off of multiple other titles – including last season. Just like there’s no way that Buck Showalter deserved to be fired after the 2016 AL Wild Card Game, especially coming off of returning the Orioles to glory, winning the AL East title in 2014, and multiple post-season appearances.

Baltimore Orioles: Why is Baltimore’s question always WHY?

The next professional game involving a Baltimore team will be the Baltimore Orioles on Opening Day. Unless you count Spring Training. But I digress. The Baltimore Ravens’ season ended yesterday when they lost to the Los Angeles Chargers.

However I harkened back to the 2016 AL Wild Card game in watching yesterday’s game. We all remember that, right? Buck Showalter holding Zach Britton in the bullpen while the Orioles gave up a walk off homer. Yesterday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh kept his starter (Lamar Jackson) in the game down big, as opposed to going to Joe Flacco. Many fans, myself included, thought it was worth a shot bringing Flacco in.

I’m not going to debate the savior fair of making or not making any of those moves. In fact, the game situations themselves were vastly different, never minding that they’re different sports. All of that said, why is it that it’s Baltimore fans consistently put in the position of having to ask questions like these? The question of…WHY?!

Obviously the difference with the Ravens and the Orioles is that the Ravens have a young quarterback with a good upside. The Orioles of 2012-2016 were always an injury, a bad call, or a bad decision away from ending up like the 2018 Orioles.

As soon as that wild card game was over, fans were calling for Buck Showalter’s head. Just as now they’re saying the same about John Harbaugh. And in reality that shows how fickle fans can be these days. You’re really only as good as your last win. In Showalter’s case, people had to know at that moment that he was in no danger of being replaced – at that moment. In Harbaugh’s case, time will tell.

Baltimore Orioles: Common sense turned on it’s head in 2018

I did a season recap for the 2018 Baltimore Orioles back in October. I’m not about to re-hash that now. It the fact is that 2018 was unkind to the Orioles and their fans. And the logic behind all of it made no sense.

Somehow Buck Showalter became an incompetent manager in the eyes of some fans. Things got so bad that he wasn’t offered a new contract. That aside, Showalter expected (and rightfully so in a sense) that guys would somehow progress back to their career means. The likes of Davis, Mancini, and others – somehow their numbers at some point had to improve to where their career averages said they should be, right?

They never got there. This much we now know. However that’s why I say that logic was turned on it’s head this year. In contrast, it seemed that Oriole opponents did more and more things outside the box, or against logic. And somehow it worked. Essentially in perpetuity.

I never felt that effort was the issue for the Orioles. Somehow it was just the perfect storm of things working against them. And all they can do is hope on this New Year’s Eve that with the regime change, perhaps 2019 will be different.

And of course let us not forget the send off made by Orioles fans to Adam Jones on the last day of the season. That was a single moment where everything made sense, in a year where common sense turned sidewards. To a lesser degree that farewell was for Buck as well, however the sentiment for him was felt much more in print and on message boards than at the ballpark that day.

Buck and Adam were the faces of a rebirth of the Orioles. And while they’ll be sorely missed, their legacies will live on. The hope of course is that someone on the current roster will step up and take that mantle moving forward.

Baltimore Orioles: Buck Showalter era is the ghost of Christmas’ Past

As we sit here on Christmas Eve, my thoughts circled back to former Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter. First and foremost, I hope that he and his family are well and enjoying the Christmas season. But the reason he crossed my mind is in essence because the era in Orioles baseball that he represents is over. This much we know.

But Christmas is a very reflective time for a lot of people – myself included. But I find myself looking back years as opposed to just into this year. Buck Showalter and the era he oversaw didn’t just bring winning back to Baltimore. It brought pride.

Anyone my age or older had known the Orioles as a winning team in the past. Obviously the franchise fell on hard times – for 14 years. However there were a whole other generation of people who had never known the Orioles as a winner or contender. Buck Showalter changed that.

I would argue that it started in earnest when the Orioles knocked Boston out of the playoffs on the last day in 2011. However they also had two immediate winning months under Showalter when he arrived in August of 2010. 2012 officially returned them to contention and to the postseason for the first time since 1997.

While that’s all in the past now my hope is that the memories last Orioles fans for some time. Those years should never be remembered for the cold and abrupt end they saw in 2018. They should be viewed through the lens of the magical era that they collectively were. My hope is that’s how Orioles fans look at it. And with that said…TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

Baltimore Orioles: Signature moment of the Buck Showalter era?

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.

Baltimore Orioles: Buck Showalter addresses the fans

Buck Showalter‘s officially been the former manager of the Baltimore Orioles for ten days now. His contract expired at the end of October. One thing you can say about Buck was that he immediately and for the entirety of his tenure endeared himself to the Orioles’ fans. And he now continues to do so in absentia.

By way of‘s Rich Dubroff, Showalter penned a letter to Orioles fans that was published yesterday (click here to read the letter). If you click on the link and read the letter, I think you’ll be impressed. You can almost hear Showalter in his folksy manner saying the words.

As I said, Showalter immediately endeared himself to the city of Baltimore and the Orioles fans. We’re reminded of that in his letter, as he mentions how passionate the people are about the city. And you really only have to spend five minutes in Baltimore to know that. Almost immediately you’ll see someone wearing Maryland flag gear, an O’s or Ravens cap, a crab shirt, or some other provincial article of clothing. Such is life in the Old Line State and in Charm City.

Buck Showalter latched onto these things as soon as he arrived in town. And in fact, probably before – he references coming into town and seeing the passion of the fans when he managed the New York Yankees years ago. Every city or region is proud of itself. However I’d like to think that Baltimore takes it to another level. And that’s a good thing.

But Buck Showalter didn’t just admire these things about the city. He became a part of it. He moved to the area, and truly became a part of the community. He talks about the neighbors in his community, and getting snow cones after Sunday day games. And I think that’s something that fans have forgotten over time. Sports figures rarely work in their hometowns – withstanding the Ripkens. In Buck’s case he lived in the Dallas area, and my understanding is that he’s going back to that as being his full-time home. But rarely do they engross themselves in the community where they work in the manner that the Showalters did.

That was important to Buck, and that’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Some people will argue they don’t care where the guy lives and so forth. But the fact that he lived and breathed the same daily grind that the fans did vouches for something. Buck always said that he “got Baltimore, and Baltimore got him.” And that was because he lived here and was a part of it.

Many times during the 2018 season I wrote and tweeted that fans will miss him when he’s gone. Buck understands the business, and seems to harbor no ill feelings towards the manner in which his time in Baltimore ended. But I stand by that statement; he’ll be missed now that he’s gone. Does that mean that the next guy can’t be just as good? Of course not. But I think Buck and Baltimore will always go hand-in-hand.

And there’s a silver lining to this: he’s still connected to the organization. His son Nathan is still a scout for the Orioles. Nathan Showalter and his wife live in the area, so it stands to reason that Buck might pop up in town from time to time. For the sake of everyone involved, I hope he isn’t a stranger.

Baltimore Orioles: Last hurrah for Buck Showalter

Now former Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter was back in Baltimore yesterday afternoon. Actually he’s been back for some time, but I digress. Buck and his wife Angela were in town for their annual Trick-or-Trot as Camden Yards on behalf of KidsPeace.

Showalter’s been around the past few days tying up loose ends and in effect moving out of his residence that he’s kept in town since he’s been here. He’ll now revert to living in the Dallas area full time moving forward.

It says a lot about Showalter’s character that he still attended yesterday’s event. Nobody would have blamed him for not being there after the Orioles opted to go in a different direction. However since he arrived in Baltimore he and his wife have adopted KidsPeace, and the charity means a lot to him. Again, that should tell Orioles fans all they need to know about their leader the past eight years.

Buck always said that he “got” Baltimore. However I think Baltimore also “got” him. For his sake, it’s my hope that he returns here at some point and is inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame.

Baltimore Orioles play an indirect role in the MLB playoffs

I’ve said previously that with all of the former 2018 Baltimore Orioles in the MLB playoffs, the Buck Showalter era is indirectly living on in absentia. I suppose that might come off as a bit of a stretch. But if you think about it, there’s some truth behind that statement.

New York fell to Boston last night, 4-3. That was an elimination game, so Boston now advances to play Houston in the ALCS. New York won 100 games in 2018, which in most seasons and in most divisions would have been enough to win the division. Not this year in the AL East.

New York of course had to play an elimination game at home last week against Oakland, and then jump head first into a best-of-five ALDS against their rivals (Boston). And as the Orioles and Oriole fans will tell you, those Wild Card Games will take a lot of out you. Obviously you’d rather play in the Wild Card Game as opposed to staying home. However they aren’t exactly pleasant experiences – win or lose.

The O’s won seven games and dropped 12 to New York this year. The only team in the American League against whom they won more games was Tampa (8). Granted going 7-12 against a division foe isn’t winning you any titles. However at the very least the Birds were slightly more competitive aainst New York than they were against most other teams.

You see where I’m going with this, I’m sure. New York finished eight games behind Boston in the standings. The O’s went 3-16 against Boston – had they ended up with a similar record against New York, the division is much tighter. And who knows how things play out at the end of the day?

New York still would have had some work to do given that circumstance in order to stay out of the Wild Card Game. But the fact is that you just don’t know how things end up playing out. So one way or the other, the influence of the Orioles was felt – directly or otherwise.

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