A lot has been said and written about Buck Showalter the manager – most of it positive. Glimpses of Showalter, the man, however, come out of every now and then, primarily when he is talking about something that is important to one of his younger players.
Once a year, after the season ends, however, there is a snapshot of Showalter, and his wife, Angela, that makes an indelible impression on the Baltimore community. One that is worth passing on.
On Saturday, the Showalters will host their annual Trick-Or-Trot 5K run/one-mile walk fundraiser for KidsPeace, a nonprofit organization that offers emotional and physical health care to foster children.
Angela Showalter, who has been involved with the organization for years, said this is the eighth year the event has been held and the seventh in which the Orioles manager and his wife have been the hosts. For the last few years, the Orioles have donated use of Camden Yards and their support staff so the race can start and finish at the club’s iconic ballpark.
“It does give me goosebumps, big time,” Angela Showalter said. “Just the whole fan base, and, of course, when you are in the middle of it and people come and you see their excitement, and finishing on the field … It’s very touching, very touching.”
This is one of those strange things about professional sports – you know how much money the participants make and there’s this expectation that they should give back to the community. Yet when they do, it’s still noteworthy, still important, still inspiring.
“It kind of shocks me when people are thanking us so much for being involved. And they are so appreciative. And they continually tell you how much they appreciate you coming out and being a part (of the community),” Angela Showalter said. “I guess that really shocked me, because I think ‘Why wouldn’t you do that?’ The best way to know the city and the town you live in is to be involved.”
Buck Showalter’s managerial career was rather nomadic before he came to Baltimore. He managed three other big-league organizations and never lasted more than four full seasons with one. He’ll be entering his eighth campaign with the Orioles in 2017 – and he and his family have become an integral part of the greater Baltimore community.
“I don’t think we’ll ever — Angela and I both feel the same way — be able to repay the impact that Baltimore has had on our lives and on our children. It’s not always take; it’s got to be about the (give),” Showalter said. “It’s the right thing to do. It’s got nothing to do with making you feel better about yourself or whatever. It’s just the right thing to do.”
Although they maintain a residence in Dallas as well, the Showalters have a home in Baltimore County and live much of the year there. They do plenty of other behind-the-scenes things for charities, but the KidsPeace initiative has become their calling card.
“There’s a certain sincerity about this. Angela has spent a lot of time going through a lot of different (charity endeavors) and a lot of them are very worthwhile,” he said. “But this is the one that she felt real comfortable about being able to make the most impact. And it’s been twice as impactful in our lives as it is the other way around. And that’s saying a lot.”
The 5K race starts at 8 a.m. at Gate A; the walk begins at 8:05 a.m. Race-day registration begins at 6:30 a.m. Participants are encouraged to wear costumes.
There will also be a pre-race party/packet pickup event (with registration available) at Dempsey’s Brew Pub on Friday night from 5 to 8 p.m.
It’s a pretty cool thing that the Showalters do every year – and it shows there is more to this world, this sport than just wins and losses.
“You realize the avenue or the venue that you have and it’s about how we use our lives to impact others, because, really, when it’s all said and done, that’s what it’s really gonna be about,” Showalter said. “It’s gonna be what you left behind, your impact on your own children and the impacting of other people’s lives.”
Showalter’s long-standing Orioles tenure
Last year, Showalter passed Paul Richards for second-place on the club’s all-time managerial wins’ list. And that’s certainly impressive. But in May he’ll pass Richards on the club’s list for most games managed. It once seemed improbable at best that any modern manager could survive with the Orioles long enough to catch Richards in games managed.
At 547-482 (.532 winning percentage), Showalter has managed 1,029 games for the Orioles. Richards, who was with the Orioles from 1955 to 1961, compiled a 517-539 record (.490 winning percentage) in 1,056 games. (Hall-of-Famer Earl Weaver is seemingly untouchable with a record of 1,480-1,060, a winning percentage of .583 and 2,540 O’s games managed.)
What’s incredible is that Showalter will be in his eighth season as an Orioles manager (he began in August 2010). That’s by far the longest of his career. But let’s also put it in club perspective.
From 2003 until Showalter took over, the Orioles employed five other managers in those seven-plus seasons. Furthermore, he’s the fifth longest tenured manager in baseball with his current team, behind only Los Angeles’ Mike Scioscia, San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy, New York’s Joe Girardi and Kansas City’s Ned Yost.
Few would have thought that would be the case when he walked through the Orioles’ revolving managerial door in 2010.
No Gold Glove snubs
The Orioles have two players that have made the cut for American League Gold Glove this year: third baseman Manny Machado and first baseman Chris Davis. And that seems about right.
It’s not that shortstop J.J Hardy, second baseman Jonathan Schoop and center fielder Adam Jones had weak years defensively. It’s just that defense is so good in Major League Baseball right now that it really is hard to argue that those guys should have been ahead of those who made the Top 3 at each position. (You can see who beat them out in this piece.)
Take second base for instance. Last year’s winner, Jose Altuve, didn’t make the cut for 2016. And it’s not because he’s not deserving. It’s because he is competing against a tremendous group of defensive second baseman including Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler.
I would assume Machado wins at third base, but it won’t be easy. Consider that the last five awards have gone to the three finalists: Machado (2013, 2015), Kyle Seager (2014) and Adrian Beltre (2011, 2012). Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria, who is also a whiz defensively and won in 2009 and 2010, didn’t finish in the Top 3.
I don’t expect Davis to win the award at first base, simply because Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer has won three straight and has a reputation as one of the best defenders in baseball. But Davis had a really good year defensively and deserves being in the conversation.
I’ve been on record as saying that I thoroughly enjoyed covering Jake Arrieta and am glad he is doing so well in his career. But I have to be honest. I was curious to see how he would respond in the biggest game of his career, starting Game 2 of the World Series with his Chicago Cubs needing to win so they wouldn’t fall behind the Cleveland Indians, 2-0.
It was a huge spot for Arrieta, and I wondered whether he would get into his own head at such a big moment. But that’s the Arrieta of old. He was dominant Wednesday, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning in the Cubs’ eventual victory.
I know some of you cringe every time Arrieta’s name is mentioned, because it means lost opportunity for the Orioles. But it’s pretty cool to see that kind of maturation from a guy with so much talent. This game is both physical and mental, and when someone can succeed at both aspects, it’s fun to watch – no matter the uniform.