Baltimore Orioles: Value of Buck Showalter

Courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Baltimore Orioles have an aspect in manager Buck Showalter that truly can’t be measured.

There’s nary anyone in and around baseball who’s going to argue that Buck Showalter isn’t the right fit for the Baltimore Orioles. Buck and the Birds were both in the right places at the right times for each other, and it’s been a mutually beneficial relationship.There can be no doubt about any of that.

Over the weekend I was listening to the radio and the hosts on the station were talking about the firing of Philadelphia Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly. I’ll be up front about one thing; I wasn’t a fan of Kelly. Anytime a guy comes in with the type of bluster he had in saying that he’s going to revolutionalize the game – needless to say I’m not a fan of people who think they’re smarter than everyone else.

However the point of the story was that Kelly in effect lost the locker room by not letting any of his player into his little world, or letting them get to know who he really was. He seemed to do what he wanted at will, never feeling the need to explain his actions or methodology, and he never thought about how his actions affected the people around him – his own team.

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  • Sports is a people business at the end of the day. In Kelly’s case, when you’re dealing with 18-22 year old kids who by virtue of their age are all but forced to listen to what the world is telling them, it’s one thing. But when you’re dealing with grown men who are collecting rather large paychecks, my way or the highway may or may not totally work. This is not to say that the employees should manage the manager, because that’s not the case. But a person of authority with no people skills is a recipie for disaster.

    Courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
    Courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

    And that’s how this relates to Showalter. The atmosphere that he’s created in the Orioles’ clubhouse since day one turns coaches green with envy across sports. Players are so willing to buy into what he’s selling, because they know that he has their best interests (and by extension those of the team) in mind.

    Ironically, this wasn’t always the case with Showalter. There was a time when he probably resembled Kelly more than who he is now. He still approaches things with the same attention to detail as before, however he also does so with more caring for the players. There’s a famous story about him having a meltdown when the Arizona Diamondbacks couldn’t match the carpet in their clubhouse with the color on their jerseys.

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    Players see that type of attitude, and realize that they don’t want to get on this guy’s bad side. However the Buck Showalter of today wouldn’t sweat something like that. So across the board, it takes time for some people to get to that point. In Kelly’s case, the Eagles won their division in his first year. While I suspect that some players were already wary of their new leader at that point, nobody’s going to say anything about it while you’re winning.

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    It’s when the going gets tough that it makes a difference. Kelly’s team totally abandoned him when things started to go south. I suspect that Buck Showalter’s team would fight their absolute hardest for him in a similar situation. And that’s why culture is so important in sports.