As I’ve stated before my favorite football team is the Washington Redskins. So in saying that, I’ve seen coach Mike Shanahan go from hero to goat in a span of less than a year. The Redskins won their division last season for the first time since 1999, only to struggle this year and to have media and fans alike openly question whether Shanahan had earned the right to come back as head coach in 2014. For the record, I think that’s a ridiculous question to ask. You don’t run someone out of town after a down year when they’ve won you a division for the first time in 13 years. But with all of that said, play the Redskins’ struggles forward to a baseball team right up the road…
Let’s say that the Baltimore Orioles turn in a similar season in 2014 as they did in 2013. They play
meaningful games up until the end of the year, but fall just short of the postseason. Would similar ire be raised towards Buck Showalter? First off let’s be frank; this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. The Redskins are 3-8 and in last place in their division coming off of a division crown. The 2013 Orioles contended for the playoffs up until the final week of the season. Buck Showalter is also under contract until after the 2018 season in Baltimore, while Shanahan’s contract expires after next year. So the fact is that if the owner wanted to make a change, this off season might be the time to do it. But semantics aside, is there actual pressure on Showalter to produce a postseason birth in 2014?
I’m going to say no, but with the stipulation that there would then be pressure in 2015. Unless the season is a total disaster (and by that I mean 1962 Mets-esq), Showalter won’t find himself on the hot seat in or after 2014 for my money. BUT…sports are different than they used to be. Nowadays owners and GM’s see teams turn around at the drop of a dime. The Cleveland Indians under Terry Francona are a good example, as are the Boston Red Sox under John Farrell. So when owners and GM’s see their teams struggling to get past square one nowadays, sometimes they question whether or not a change on the sidelines or in the dugout might not be the right move.
We saw this in Boston after 2012 with Bobby Valentine, and we’ve seen it in other sports as well. In fact, I would submit that this is a symptom more so of society today than of sports. People don’t always get the time they need or deserve to turn things around totally because bosses are expecting results right away. Without exaggerating, I once took a management job in customer service and literally got lambasted about customer service scores on day two. That may be an extreme example, however immediate results are expected in many cases.
I would submit that Showalter’s built up enough goodwill in both the warehouse and within the fan base to have the luxury about worrying for his job security for awhile. Certainly there might be a rogue person here or there who would call for his head, but I doubt we’d see vultures circling him like we do with Shanahan in Washington. But Showalter knows the pressure to win and to win now better than anyone, as he’s been fired in three other places because ownership felt that he couldn’t take the franchise to the next level. One year later, the teams won the world series. So to quote Al Davis, “…just win baby!”