Thursday, May 31, 2018

This weekend in Baltimore could be a farewell to Buck

Oh, Baltimore,
Man it's hard, just to live...
- Randy Newman, 1977 -

Be afraid. The crab cakes will have razors, the Natty Bo's laced with castor oil. Officer Jimmy McNulty will have tapped our phones, and the sonic wave headaches will come from Mr. Poe's telltale liver. Be very afraid. This weekend in Maryland is a snake in the row house, the last torn tendon on Johnny Unitas' ankle. 

We play four against the second worst team in creation, after Obama's White Sox. The O's have lost seven of their last 10. They sit 22 games out in the AL East, so far from relevance that the 2018 Wild Card might as well be Alpha Centauri. And their farm system is a lingering catastrophe: Baltimore ranks 23rd in talent, which is actually the highest they've been listed in the last three years. They are becoming the Knicks of the American League.

None of their main starters has an ERA under 4.30. Their most effective pitcher - Richard Bleier, a bullpen lefty - is one of our castoffs. Their best player by far, Manny Machado, is so mentally removed from this lineup that his pre-game rituals must include trying on other teams' caps. In his role as an auditioning trade chip, he's hitting so well that it's almost embarrassing. If Manny sees one pitch in the strike zone this weekend, the offending Yankee should be fined. 

And yet... the last time we saw them, they took three out of fucking four.

The reason, of course, is Buck Showalter, whose malevolent hatred of the Yankees burns hotter than those lava flows into Hawaii's suburban wasteland. The O's may have taken off the entire month of May, but Buck will have them on Ambien, playing the way Roseanne Barr tweets. This is the closest thing they'll have to a meaningful weekend all summer. This is their World Series, and Buck will manage like it's Earth vs. the Martians, using his arsenal of pitchers from the Norfolk Tides, the Bowie Baysox and the Delmarva Whatthefux of the Single A Shithouse League. 

Mark these words: This is one of those weekends when all the perks of rooting for the Yankees come with a downside: A team that drank all last week suddenly wakes up hungover, and the rage boils over. Don't be surprised if chins are shaved and fielders are blindsided by runners looking to make an impression on an angry manager. 

And a goner.

Listen: Don't our guts tell us that Buck Showalter is facing his final roundup? This will have been his second straight fifth place finish. Not many jobos survive that kind of streak. Buck is only 62, but he looks eighty, and managing jobs are increasingly going to guys still worthy of hair commercials. Showalter has never taken a team to the World Series, and his four post-season appearances have a 9-14 record. I personally shall never forgive him for pulling out his starters in the last game of the 2005 season, so the Angels could easily take the home field advantage over the Yankees in the playoffs. And though he's professed to having no bitterness to being fired by old George, he always seems to be settling scores when his former employer comes to town. 

In another universe, Fatso didn't fire him after the 1995 season - (when he didn't deserve to be fired, by the way.) In that world, Buck might have lasted through the great late-1990s Yankee run, and he might have a plaque in Monument Park or even still be our manager. It's strange how things play out, eh? That's baseball, I guess. But love him or hate him, it won't be the same after he is gone. And make no mistake: He is going, going... almost gone. 

And this weekend, don't even think about us bringing up Ryan McBroom. We will be lucky to take two. 

39 comments:

KD said...

Pity the poor Bawlmore baseball fan, and I have friends holding long-term season tickets by the third base dugout (The Brooks Robinson section). Imagine if we were cursed with such wretched ownership. almost makes me grateful for the Steinspawn. almost.

TheWinWarblist said...

Give Baltimore and Showalter no pity. The will receive none from me.

KD said...

my sympathy goes only so far, Dr. Warblist. I want nothing less that total domination. Drubbings so intense and merciless that all Bird fans jump ship to the Nats. THAT is what Oriole ownership deserves.

Local Bargain Jerk said...


Today's tabloid front pages are a marvel. The headline writers must have been licking their chops over the opportunity served up by this, um, historic summit.

The Post, in particular, had so many different ways of approaching it, they went with three different headline jokes. I am picturing them sitting in an editor's office arguing over whose joke was better, trying to settle it with a game of "rock, paper, scissors" and then some wizened, cigar-chomping editor saying "Screw it. We'll use 'em all."

"The Other Big Ass Summit" is a keeper.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

https://nypost.com/covers/
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/new-york-daily-news-front-pages-2018-gallery-1.3732896

Back page ain't bad either:

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/new-york-daily-news-back-pages-2018-gallery-1.3734673


Baltimore should be shown no mercy, if for no other reason than cheap tickets for visiting Yankee fans. Great place to see a game.

Plus Shuck Fowalter is a pain in the ass. I doubt the Yankees would have the 90's championships (at least not as many) with his attitude on the bench. Would never have had Zimmer either.

13bit said...

zim was the key

KD said...

welcome 13!

KD said...

Does Buck deserve his accolades after blowing the wild card game against the BJ's? Closers are for closing, don't you know. even in a do-or-die wild card game.

Yanks made the right choice dumping his ass. Buck is no winner.

Carl Weitz said...

I'm not nearly as pessimistic as Duque.

If the Yankees don't win at least 3 games, I'll be shocked. Even Merlin couldn't win with this awful team, so no matter how much magic, dirty deeds or tricks Showalter can conjure up it is to no avail. They can use as many players on the roster as they will or use as many organizational permutations possible it won't help. Makes no difference how many guns in the arsenal if they're all shooting blanks.

Leinstery said...

Has everyone here lost their minds? Cashner pitches for the Orioles tonight and he has an era of 5.08, Sonny brings his nearly 1 run higher era in tonight. Tanaka has an era of 5, and CC and German can't get through 3 without surrendering less than 4 runs. Combine the Yankees awful pitching with their great inability to hit terrible pitching, we're about to see a true disaster unfold. You're all lunatics if you think this will be an easy series. And Duque, you say they'll be lucky to win 2, I think even that is optimistic.

Anonymous said...

BINGO MR. DUQUE....

MANNY MACHADO SHOULD BE WALKED INTENTIONALLY OR OTHERWISE ROUGHLY 7 - 10 TIMES OUT OF HIS 16 - 20 PLATE APPEARANCES THIS WEEKEND. (THE CLOSER THE GAMES, THE MORE THE NUMBER SHOULD RISE).

HE DESTROYS US.

TAKE THE BAT OUT OF HIS HANDS.

LEINSTERY AND MR. DUQUE HAVE A POINT.

PLAYING THE ORIOLES IS NOWHERE NEAR A CAKE WALK FOR US.

Alphonso said...

Everyone is right about how to deal with Manny.

First off: people named Manny have plagued us for decades.

Second; I support the premise that we always walk guys like Trout and Manny, no matter what the circumstance.

It demoralizes them and forces others to retaliate. So they try too hard. Trying too hard in baseball leads to failure.

But the baseball people will not allow such a tactic. Boone would be criticized. Sonny would take it as cowardice.

Instead; Manny will hit at least one HR per game, and knock in about 12 runs himself.

So, we have to score 10 per game, to win three.

Or two.

John M said...

Baltimore is terrible. I don't think we'll have any trouble, unless I'm missing the reverse juju at play in the above comments.

This may even be Sonny's best chance at a win so far this season.

It's not necessarily that this is an easy series. It's that when we suck, we don't suck as badly as the Orioles almost always suck. It's one of the laws of physics. Hubert or Ronnie, I forget which. But even if we're terrible, all it means is that the game in question could go either way. A squeaker.

Put it this way. If you remember from "Ball Four," Mantle was supposed to get a day off so he got seriously plastered the night before. Turns out he's called to pinch hit with one of the worst hangovers known to man. He ends up homering, I think it was.

In 2018, we're the Mick, and the O's are the opposing pitcher. Even hungover, not a serious threat.

Anonymous said...

A couple of points:

You have about a sixty percent chance or better of getting an "out" result with "guys like Trout and Manny." So walking them every time is self-defeating. Walking them with guys in scoring position in a close game . . . MAYBE. According to statistical analyses undertaken of the whole history of baseball, almost every intentional walk will increase run expectancy.

Buck Showalter--whatever his perceived faults--was essential to turning the Yankees around from a Steinbrenner-blighted joke to a world-class franchise. It was he who influenced Stick and the whole organization to hold on to people like Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera when Steinbrenner wanted to dump them for nothing or for washed-up "name" veterans. Without Showalter, and his insistence on building from the ground up with young talent instead of relying on the Steve Kemps and Mel Halls and Jesse Barfields and Tim Leary's of the world, the Yankees would have descended ever deeper into the swirl of dysfunction and chaos of the late eighties and early nineties.

Without Buck, and his insistence on acquiring, retaining, and encouraging that young talent, no dynasty of the nineties and aughts--just an accelerating descent into the madness of King George.

It may not be fashionable or popular on this blog to acknowledge these points--or among Yankee fans with short-term memory deficits--but they just happen to be true.

TheWinWarblist said...

13 bit AHOY !!

HoraceClarke66 said...

Very true, Rufus: "Always be merciless with small teams."

I did think that Buck was an outstanding manager, and hated to see him go. But then, I thought that Dick Howser was also a terrific manager, and that Lou Piniella and Gene Michael were pretty damned good.

Didn't matter, back in the days of the Mad King.

Torre's background of paternal abuse happened to give him the wherewithal to deal with George, and to shield his players from both the owner's wrath and the vulture media that predominates around here.

Torre was never, I thought, a very good field manager. But he was uniquely able to calm the hysteria, and for that he deserves his Hall of Fame plaque.

HoraceClarke66 said...

A shame for Buck, of course. But then, he should have trusted in Mariano. And he can stop avenging himself by doing
things like trotting his best reliever out for a three-inning stint against us in April.

KD said...

Anonymous, a well put defense of Buck but not one I haven't heard before. a couple of things don't square for me, however. (This is not an attack.)

if it was Showalter that prevented the horrible trades that George wanted, why didn't they happen after Buck was fired? I'm not so sure it wasn't Stick who was the real hero back then. Has that history been written by unbiased observers? and if Buck is such a baseball genius, why couldn't he transform the Birds and get a few rings himself? Has Oriole ownership been that much worse that former Yankees ownership? (Think I might know the answer to that one...)

Bonus question: can you explain why Buck did not use Z. Britton during that wild card game? was that a sound baseball decision?

Anonymous said...

Buck and Stick collaborated on the youth-first policies of the early-to-mid-nineties. But by Stick's own testimony--and that of everyone who was around the team at the time--Showalter was a major influence in this policy. Bernie has said repeatedly that it was Buck who saved his career. And it was Buck, as manager, who insisted that Jeter be given number 2 because he recognized him as a special talent. And Showalter's few disagreements with Michael centered precisely on backsliding into the old ways--Showalter was adamantly opposed to acquiring Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, and Ruben Sierra, all of whom compiled predictably abysmal WAR records while with the Yankees.

There was additional subsequent backsliding that would no doubt not have occurred if Showalter had been there--for example, the retention of the mediocre Brosius and the concomitant shedding of the budding All-Star Mike Lowell, etc.

Of course, the main reason why the policy of retaining the core five did not change after Showalter's departure is that all five turned out to be All-Stars. There's no mystery there.

TheWinWarblist said...

John M, I prefer to use SUCK+ over unadjusted SUCK. I think SUCK+ gives a better picture, having been normalized for competitiveness, dickishness of opposing managers and ball(s) park factors.

TheWinWarblist said...

Anon, well said. There is another element to the early '90s that should be remembered. George was banned from involvement in baseball operations by Fay Vincent. Hard to trade away the farm when you're not allowed in the building.

Anonymous said...

As for the Orioles--they always overachieved under Showalter, based on preseason projections--usually by a wide margin. Same with Arizona and Texas. And with its starting staff and starting eight decimated by injuries in 1995, it's a miracle that the Yankees advanced to the postseason at all. If MacDowell had recorded an out in that situation, you and others wouldn't get to indulge your taste for second-guessing. It's easy to strike a pose of retroactive omniscience based on the outcome rather than the probabilities facing a manager BEFORE he knows the outcome.

Yes--he made strategic missteps in this or that instance. But he also won three Manager of the Year awards and ranked second among MLB managers in the rankings of Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus and Sports Illustrated, one of the most respected baseball analysts in the business. And he's far from alone in his opinion.

It's easy to allow petty spites to eclipse the historical record in such matters--the dark side of fandom.

Anonymous said...

WinWarblist -- As both Buck and Stick have made clear, George was in regular touch with them during his banned period. You don't think a tyrant like Steinbrenner was about to let a piddling ruling stop him from running roughshod over his shop, do you? In fact, during his ban he contacted Michael through intermediaries to insist that he trade Bernie Williams, according to Buck, who said, "If he wanted to communicate with you, he had ways." Buck said to Stick, "We're not going to do this, are we?" And Stick said, "I'll make pro forma contacts with every team but will not try to push a serious deal. Then I can go back to George and say we tried." So did exactly that, and went back to Steinbrenner and told him, "Nobody's interested." To which Steinbrenner responded, "See? I told you he stinks."

HoraceClarke66 said...

I do think it was terrible that George fired Buck. But then, it was also unforgivable that George fired Bob Lemon the way he did—twice—and Michael, and Piniella. And unforgivable how he exploited Billy Martin, who badly needed some kind of emotional or mental help.

He was a bad guy, through and through.

In fairness, it's quite understandable that Buck did not necessarily trust The Great One in that 1995 situation. But what I, for one, was yelling at my TV about at the time was that Cone was seriously gassed. He had thrown over 140 pitches. Even outstanding pitchers are not the same pitchers they usually are at that level of fatigue, something managers often want to overlook in extremis.

Bobby Valentine made the same mistake a few years later. Sure, under ordinary conditions you would trust Al Leiter to put away Luis Sojo. After 143 pitches, he's not really Al Leiter anymore.

Rufus said...

Showalter is good at getting teams 'almost' there. I'll give him that. But I don't think he would have done as well as Torre/Zimmer with that team.

Anonymous said...

Well--Torre and Zimmer never would have had that team if not for Buck and Stick. They were handed a Maserati to drive first time around the block with the Yankees. Easy to go 9 to 60 in a nonce that way. Just think if they had been handed a Yugo, as Buck was. Would they have had the wisdom to rebuild in the same way?

Anonymous said...

from 0 to 60

KD said...

Showalters refusal to use his best relief pitcher when the season was on the line was a symptom of ossisifed thinking. Some individual decisions are more than just taking a roll of the dice. They show an inner flaw. An inability to be flexible. To do things the same way they’ve always been done. That’s Buck. The thinking mans loser.

Anonymous said...

Again--that's a classic second-guess. You appear omniscient because you know the flawed outcome. If it had worked out, you wouldn't be second-guessing. But if it confers on you the illusion that you know more about baseball than someone who won manager of the year three times and whose ossified thinking helped to revive a moribund franchise, the one you now root for, please do knock yourself out with schadenfreude, if that's what turns you on.

HoraceClarke66 said...

KD, much as I joke about Buck being "The Flying Dutchman" of baseball, I would never call him a loser, and I think he did great work for us.

So did any number of other managers, scouts, general managers, and other top baseball men whose efforts George rewarded with the shaft.

George was willing to spend money, I'll give him that. But his regime was like some kind of totalitarian state, in which people got punished for all kinds of weird and arbitrary things.

KD said...

Like it or not, we are all judged by the decisions we make and their eventual outcomes. It's what gets you promoted, a raise in pay, or tenure in your College. Yet, nobody is perfect. Some times the correct call is made and it just doesn't work out. It happens. But some decisions are so bone-headed, so steeped in traditional ways of thinking, that it demands a price. Such was Buck's decision in that Wild Card game. I cut Oriole ownership and management no slack but I do have sympathy for their fan base. I have friends and family in Bawlmore. In my early and mid teens, I was an Oriole fan due to geography. I had a serious Brooks Robinson jones and still see him as the quintessential third baseman. Plus, a staff with four 20 game winners? come on!

As far as Showalter goes, I'm no fan. He helped build our dynasty but many people also deserve as much credit, I'm sure. Time for the old guy to get a gold watch and move to southern Florida.

another thing: I appreciated George, even with all his flaws, which I do recognize. He spent his money and ended up with an historic winner. And after that team was built, he did NOT sell it off to line his pockets as other owners would surely have done. He wanted to keep winning, albeit with a flawed philosophy. For his desire to win at all costs, I will always remember him fondly.

William Kaufman said...

George spent money in a misguided, often insane way. The successful teams during his tenure were built by pros like Gabe Paul and Stick/Buck, not by George's compulsive spending and dysfunctional rages.

Anonymous said...

"We are all judged by the decisions we make and their eventual outcomes." Yes, that's why Buck won Manager of the Year three times.

You don't like the guy. You love George. These are your personal tastes. Duly noted.

KD said...

and Girardi won Manager of the Year once. Doesn't mean it wasn't a good decision to fire Joe or that he was above criticism.

BTW, you can't bully me. I'll write my opinion and am never cowed.

no more responses to your posts from me. In the words of a brilliant contributor to this blog, You're dead to me now.

Anonymous said...

KD takes his little ball and skulks home, but not before hurling an unfounded, undocumented slur about "bullying," thus exemplifying the very polemical skunkiness he hypocritically professes abhor.

Exit KD from the arena to retreat to his bedroom, there to hug his Georgie doll and stick pins in his Buck doll. No one notices or cares.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Thanks, KD!

Old George did have a flair for the marquee, which at first served him well in New York, town of the ultra-hype. But soon enough, he began to think he knew something about baseball. Big mistake.

Rufus T. Firefly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rufus T. Firefly said...

KD,

Your choice is correct. However, I don't think this dipshit douche bag asshole will go away without duque imposing limits on his access here. Makes you wonder why a self-hating loner would choose to annoy a bunch of old farts and their friends.

Asshole,

I found your IP address. Not surprising.

72.47.218.35

Anonymous said...

Hey Rufus T. Shitfly--

My, my--who jumped in to initiate acrimony here--could it be you, Frenchie?

I was bothering no one until KD showed up and started puling and hurling unfounded accusations.

Suck on it, loser. When you have something original or insightful to say about something other than your rotted psyche--say, baseball or the Yankees, of all things!--then get back to us.

If not, enjoy your obsessive-compulsive life as my Internet bitch slave--you and the three other little frustrated mentally ill loser boys.