One thing that we haven’t heard much talk about thus far in 2014 is the Manager of the Year award. The fact is that William Nathaniel Showalter is quickly gaining “scomaint status” in Baltimore for how he’s turned around the Baltimore Orioles. That in and of itself isn’t grounds for him getting Manager of the Year.
Showalter almost won the award in 2012 when he led the Orioles to the promised land (post season) for the first time in 14 years. He was beaten out by Oakland manager Bob Melvin by one vote if I recall. Many people felt he was robbed, and in a certain sense I did as well. However Melvin was just as deserving of a candidate, and for very similar reasons. So while it was a shame for Buck that he lost, he lost out to a very deserving candidate.
But this year I would submit that it’s a little different. I’m not sure how many people had the Orioles finishing where it looks like they’re going to finish. (For the reecord, I predicted 92 wins – although I didn’t say in what place in the standings I thought the Orioles would finish.) But the fact is that some pundits had the Orioles finishing fifth…yeah, dead last! While most people are going to tell you that the AL East is over and done as of right now, I would still say to be careful with that. The Orioles’ lead is very solid for sure; however it’s not over until it’s over.
But that aside, I would submit to the voters for the Manager of the Year award that what Showalter has done this year has been about as
noteworthy as any manager in any season. He’s seemingly stayed ahead of the curve in the sense that he has the uncanny ability to manager several at bats and in some cases several innings in anticipation. He seems to match up in terms of bullpen relievers and hitters better than anyone in the game, and he knows how to ride the hot hand until just prior to it being gone.
However perhaps more than any of those factors, Showalter’s among the very best leaders in the game and in sports. He would tell you that part of it is having good players, and that’s a very valid point. However all of the pieces have to be stirred together correctly, and seemingly every button he’s pushed has brought the elevator to the correct floor.
This is not to say that there aren’t other deserving candidates out there. But for a team that was expected to take a step backwards this year to be finishing where it appears they’re going to finish, it just seems to me that Buck Showalter is the most deserving. On the flip side of course, if you listen to many pundits talk now it seems that suddenly the AL East is a “weak division.” So perhaps the O’s are poised to win the division merely by default. Luckily, there’s nothing that most of the so-called experts have said about the 2014 Baltimore Orioles that has rang true as of yet.
The Orioles will switch sides of Chicago this afternoon as they make a rare three-game visit to the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field to play three games with the Chicago Cubs. One thing of note, the Birds will play three afternoon games at Wrigley this weekend, starting at 2:20 EST this afternoon. The O’s of course famously don’t always play well under the afternoon sun, which is something that will have to change if they’re going to conti.nue to see success in Chicagoland this weekend.
Kevin Gausman will get the start today, and he’ll be opposed by former Oriole Jake Arrieta. One also has to expect to see former Oriole Pedro Strop coming out of the Chicago pen at some point this weekend as well. The Birds of course traded Arrieta and Strop to Chicago last year for pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger.
Arrieta has had a great season thus far with the Cubs, and one that included a near no-hitter in Boston earlier this summer. So did the Orioles get rid of him too early? Personally I don’t think so; he was a classic “need a change of scenery” guy when he left Baltimore. So while Orioles fans will be rooting against him today, I would hope that they’d wish him well and be happy for his success in general.