We’ve given a lot of time this spring to figuring out how various players would end up fitting onto the roster that the Baltimore Orioles have construed. However what can we continually make of what’s above that roster? Namely, what do the Orioles have in the dugout? Buck Showalter is entering his fourth full season as the Orioles’ skipper; he also guided the team in the final two months of 2010. Does he give the Birds an advantage on the field or in the win/loss column? I suppose that’s a matter of opinion, and in reality it matters how you look at things.
Showalter’s biggest detractors point to how in the past he’s done things in a my way or the highway type of manner. By in the past, I mean in previous managerial stints. Whether or not those days are truly over is another story. Look at things from the perspective of a company; if your supervisor gives you instruction, the my way or the highway mentality is somewhat implied. However that aside, Showalter also gets tagged with being overly loyal to players. Coming from an Italian family, loyalty is the quality that I admire the most. It’s also worth mentioning that last season while Showalter was publically standing behind closer Jim Johnson in his nine blown saves, odds are he was counseling him a bit more severely behind closed doors. However that’s the mark of a great leader; publically praise and privately scorn.
Buck Showalter’s trademark in all of his managerial stops along the way has been his legendary attention to detail. There’s no detail that goes unnoticed by Buck. When he took stewardship of the franchise in August of 2010, he paid a short side visit almost immediately to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota to see how the renovations were going (during a road trip to Tampa). Even before that, he spend two weeks prior to accepting the job scouting the Orioles’ minor league system to see what he would have to work with. Those qualities should tell fans and players alike what kind of attention to detail Buck Showalter pays.
To his credit, Showalter is not an excuse maker. So often in society nowadays we’re being taught to give and accept excuses on a regular basis. Showalter’s attitude is that if you continually accept lame excuses, you’re going to continue to get lame excuses. So the Orioles’ payroll being less than that of New York and Boston is no excuse for losing. It’s that attitude, as well as an aura of confidence, that gave the Orioles the self-discipline and the will they needed to stand up to the Yankees and Red Sox.
The fact is that for the first time since the 1990’s, the Orioles have both a bona fide manager, and a roster of players that’s poised to make a playoff run. As late as 2005, the Birds were in contention at the all-star break. However they never had a presence in the dugout that would have been necessary to take that next step in their progression. That’s certainly not the case in 2014.