BALTIMORE—For the first time since he left the Orioles in 2018, Buck Showalter is back at Camden Yards. Showalter is in his second year as manager of the New York Mets, who were expected to be one of the best teams in the National League but instead sold off star pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander at the trade deadline. Meanwhile, the Orioles have the second-best record in baseball.
“The news is Baltimore, how well they’re playing, the Orioles,” Showalter said at a packed news briefing on Friday. “It’s great for the city, for the organization. It’s a lesson for all of us. I’m proud to see there were some guys who were here when I was here … [Ryan] McKenna, [Anthony] Santander, [Dean] Kremer. [Félix] Bautista, we signed him when he was released by the Marlins. I’m not taking any credit, trust me.”
Last year, the Mets lost in the wild-card round to the San Diego Padres. This year they’re far out of the race, but Showalter remains hopeful.
“It’s difficult for our fans,” Showalter said. “So far. I look at always so far. Good things can happen. I get to see a lot of things with the young players and opportunities they’re getting, especially with some of the trades we’ve made.
“I guarantee you Brandon [Hyde] and Mike [Elias] have expectations every year privately. Some guy will develop quicker than we thought … I’ve been through years that you weren’t very good but there were times in the season where you didn’t think you’d lose another game. Some years you ended up being good, and there were times during the year where you didn’t think you’d win a game. This game will knock you to your knees when you think you’ve got it figured out.”
Showalter and Hyde don’t know each other well. It’s the first time they’ve managed against each other. They met briefly at last year’s Winter Meetings.
“I haven’t had a conversation with him. He was nice enough to send me a text when I got hired here,” Hyde said. “Which I really appreciated and shows the professional that he is. I’ll remember that.”
Showalter was peppered with questions about Baltimore and his memories of his more than eight years with the Orioles. His son, Nathan a former Orioles scout, lives with his family in Severna Park.
“It was such a great time in their lives growing up, being that committed to a city,” Showalter said.
He noticed a new addition near the ballpark on Thursday night.
“We came by the stadiums last night, and what’s that golf, TopGolf. If they had that here, I would have been a little later to the ballpark,” he joked.
He said he’s not surprised by the Orioles’ success.
“I’m always a little dubious when I hear somebody say, ‘we’re on a five-year or six-year or four-year or seven-year plan,” Showalter said. “It usually correlates with their contract length, right?
“Things can happen quicker than some people perceive. Sometimes they take a little longer. We’re all human beings. Things change quickly. It’s not always played on a stat sheet. People have emotions. Things happen in their lives. Some people come quicker. You want to make the baseball gods laugh, tell them about your plans.”
Showalter’s team was expected to be much stronger than it has been, and he tries to accept the uncertainty.
“We lived it a little bit,” he said. “Whether it’s Citi Field or Camden Yards, it’s our responsibility. You control it. They’re waiting to embrace you. You’ve got to give them something to embrace you about. It’s as simple as that. It’s your responsibility. There’s an excuse around every corner if you’re willing to go there. That’s the way baseball’s structured. Everybody can compete if you know who you are and how you need to go about it.”
He couldn’t escape the questions about his time with the Orioles.
“Obviously, you spend that much time somewhere, you have a lot of memories,” he said. “Right now, it’s about the Mets. I have the same feelings for the Mets and Queens that I had for Baltimore. We’ve always committed to every community we’ve had the honor of being in. We buy a house. We move in, donkeys, dogs. My wife’s done a great job with resale over the years.”
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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