After Buck Showalter’s first night as the Orioles skipper resulted in a 6-3 win, everyone at Oriole Park smiles. Well, everyone but Rick Dempsey, who told The Sun’s Dan Connolly on the day of the Showalter-opening home stand that hiring Bucky instead of The Dipper is “the biggest mistake made here in a long time.”
Really, Dempsey? Really? Worse than Garrett Atkins? Worse than Rich Hill? Worse than Ryan Freel? Worse than…oh, you get the point. Rick, that is one helluva mistake we’re talking about.
Anyhow, the MASN curmudgeon and 1983 World Series MVP aside, Tuesday night was an encouraging one for The Birds and their new front man.
The crowd was loud. The players, spirited. The pitching, solid. Heck, even Mike Gonzalez looked good in 1.2 innings of work.
A baseball lifer like Buck Showalter won’t be carried away by a single performance, but it was nevertheless good to hear the crowd give him a long cheer when he came out of the dugout to chat with manager Jerry Lane.
I, for one, am happy to see Showalter slide Nick Markakis into the number two spot in the lineup. Markakis is an on base guy, not a power guy, and it seemed that Dave Trembley refused to move him out of sheer stubbornness. This is a small sign, to be sure, but it is a sign that Showalter is going to put the lineup out there that he thinks has the best chance to win.
And that’s good because it would be nothing short of a miracle if Showalter were able to coax a .500 finale out of a squad that has not been in the playoff hunt since the second week of the season. Traditionally, bad teams fall off the cliff as the second grinds towards its anti-climactic conclusion, and the Orioles have been no exception. Last year, the club went 6-20 in September.
Perhaps Buck’s pre-game “chat” with his new team inspired their gritty performance on Tuesday night. Maybe the guys can respect a manager who has played the game before, not to mention a guy who has won the game as a manager before. It breeds confidence.
Tuesday’s win breeds confidence, too. Omens are silly, but starting a manager’s tenure with a 6-3 victory is certainly better than starting with, say, a 30-3 loss.
It will take more than a few chats to get this team back on track. But if he can help bring this sad franchise back to respectability, Buck Showalter will be hailed as a hero in Baltimore. For Orioles fans optimism is foolish. But hope and optimism are two different things, and we’re all at least hoping that Buck Showalter’s tenure is the start of a new era for the once-proud Orioles.
Good luck, Buck.
Everyone in Baltimore Except Rick Dempsey