Buck Showalter’s quest for a championship continues


Buck Showalter is a great manager. One of baseball’s best in my opinion. He has picked up teams from the bottom depths of the sport and uplifted them to heights both the players and fans of the organization could not dream be possible.

For all of Showalter’s greatness, he yet to stake his claim at baseball’s ultimate prize; a World Series crown. He has been pretty damn close, leading three different teams to the playoffs in his managerial career.

He took over for a laughably bad Yankees squad before the 1992 season and had them playing winning baseball by 1993. They were regarded by many to have the best shot at winning the World Series in 1994 (posting a 70-43 record), before labor disagreements ultimately put an end to that mysterious season.

Showlater finally got his chance at earning his pinstripes in 1995 after his Yankees earned the first ever AL Wild Card berth, but was denied by the Seattle Mariners in five games in one of the greatest division series ever played. I can still see Edgar Martinez lacing that ball down the left field line, and Ken Griffey Jr. racing his way home to stick the fork in Showalter’s tenure as manager of the New York Yankees.

With a clear winning foundation in place thanks to Buck, the Yankees went on to win the 1996 World Series under new manager Joe Torre.

After two years away from the game, Showalter was asked to manage the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998. After a dismal first year with a record of 65-97, Showalter worked his magic and lead the Diamondbacks to a 100-62 record in 1999. That is unheard of for a second-year franchise. Sure they may have lost to the Mets in the division series that season, but that single season turnaround cannot be ignored.

With expectations high heading into the 2000 season, Arizona underachieved on their way to a 85-77 record, leading to Showalter’s dismissal. The Diamondbacks would go on to win the World Series in 2001, under the tutelage of new manager Bob Brenly.

Once again, Showalter would be left a bridesmaid that could never be the bride.

Buck took two seasons off after his days in Arizona, before resurfacing with the Texas Rangers in 2003. He was asked to take over a team coming off of a last place finish in its division, while juggling the daily nuances of superstar Alex Rodriguez.

The Rangers struggled in Buck’s first year, and when GM John Hart traded A-Rod to the Yankees before the 2004 season (ugh) expectations were grim for the 2004 Rangers campaign.

Guided by Showalter’s managerial expertise (and a little sprinkle of cutting ties with A-Rod) the Rangers went 89-73 in 2004, very nearly surprising everyone and making the postseason. However, two mediocre seasons followed, leaving Showalter to be jettisoned as manager.

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The Rangers would go on to make the World Series in 2010 and 2011.

We have now made our way to present day Buck, where we know him as the shrewd manager of the Baltimore Orioles. Before Showalter, the Orioles were a laughable franchise that had not made a postseason appearance since 1997.

In 2012, Showalter changed the narrative of the Orioles, leading them to an AL Wild Card berth and postseason date with the New York Yankees. Baltimore put up a stiff fight with the Yanks, but fell victim to the player formerly known as Rauuuuuul Ibanez.

In any case, the rest of baseball had to take notice of what was brewing in Baltimore.

Fast forward to this season where Buck and his Orioles were bashing their way to a 96-66 record and becoming one of the favorites to win the World Series. After sweeping away perennial AL power Detroit Tigers, Baltimore appeared ready to dismantle the young and aloof Kanas City Royals in the ALCS.

It was finally Showalter’s turn to be the bride.

We all know the story from here. The Orioles got blitzed by Kansas City’s suddenly hot bats, fire-balling bullpen, and shockingly good luck in extra inning games. Poor Buck was left holding the bouquet of flowers at the wedding reception.

One can only wonder when Mr. Showalter will get his chance at a championship. He plays in a terribly competitive division and has a track record of not managing teams for long periods of time. Everything pointed to this being his year to receive the proper accolade to accommodate his sparkling track record as a teacher of baseball.

Don’t worry Buck, one of these days you are going to be the one popping the champagne and tossing back the bouquet to the rest of hopeful major league managers. Your day will come.