Baltimore Orioles: Buck Showalter gets Baltimore
There wasn’t always harmony between the Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens. There was a time where Baltimore’s two birds barely admitted that the other existed. However that relationship has thawed significantly, and the players and coaches on both sides now not only agknowlege the other, but they all seem to pull for each other. Speaking for myself I’m unclear when this happened, but it’s good to see. The O’s and the Baltimore Colts always had a close relationship, and now the same can be true of the Orioles and Ravens.
Courtesy of Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
This closeness was on display yesterday afternoon at M & T Bank Stadium when manager Buck Showalter, Vice-President of Baseball Operations (and Orioles legend) Brady Anderson, and numerous Oriole players were on hand to watch the Baltimore Ravens’ 29-7 victory over Atlanta. Just prior to kickoff the Ravens played a tribute video full of Orioles’ highlights from over the course of the 2014 season, after which Showalter was brought onto the field and announced to the crowd – and recevied a standing ovation at that. Prior to walking off the field, he doffed his cap to the crowd in his trademark manner.
It was a feel-good moment for Baltimore for sure. It was also the Baltimore fans’ first opportunity to say thank you for the season of thrills the Orioles gave them. As I said, this relationship between the two franchises hasn’t always been there. And in fact, it’s not necessarily there in other cities.
So bearing that in mind, Baltimore truly has something special. And I think that both Showalter, and Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh “get that.”
A couple of months ago Showalter made a comment through the media to the effect that he “gets Baltimore…and that Baltimore gets him.” Showalter is what you might call a journeyman in the coaching ranks. While coaches in sports get recycled all the time, you don’t see it in MLB to the degree that you do in a league like the NBA. (For instance, I think Larry Brown‘s coached most of the league at some point or another.) It’s probably rare for a guy to get hired and fired from three different organizations, only to get a fourth chance somewhere else – which is what’s happened with Buck Showalter.
Baltimore is also what one might call a “journeyman” – if it what a person, that is. There are times when the city gives the impression that it’s been through the wringer, and the Colts leaving is an example. Obviously the consecutive losing Orioles seasons is another example of that, and there are many more. It’s a city that has a chip on it’s shoulder, being put up against Washington DC, New York, and even Philadelphia. And let me be frank; I think that chip on it’s shoulder gives it more character than those places. Like most journeymen such as Showalter, it can be rough around the edges. But also like most journeymen such as Showalter, it’s about as sincere and upstanding as one would hope.
So perhaps it’s no coincidence that Buck Showalter and Baltimore were destined on a crash course together. After being let go from the Texas Rangers, Showalter took a break in a sense, becoming a studio host for ESPN. And that time away from the dugout made him into the manager that he is now with the Orioles. There were quite a few people who said that Showalter wasn’t the greatest hire because he could be too strict among other things. There were also people who privately told Showalter that the Orioles was a bad career move for him. So both took a risk, and thus far both have come out ahead.
On a personal note, I’ve never understood the disdain that other places have for the city of Baltimore. If anything, I would submit that it’s those places with the chip on their shoulders. But that’s beside the point. Yesterday was the second time that Showalter had showed up to be honored at a Ravens game, the first being after the Orioles bowed out of the 2012 playoffs. Incidentally, Buck returend the favor last August when the Orioles honored the Ravens at a game after they won the Super Bowl the previous January.
I would also say that Ravens coach John Harbaugh “gets” Baltimore as much as Showalter does. So again, Baltimore is very lucky. Many cities have one team that’s of a championship caliber and has an extremely close relationship with the local communit. Baltimore has two. And both organizations are headed on the field by men who care; not only about their jobs, teams, and players, but also about the journeyman community of which they are a part.