Domenic Vadala: Is Showalter an afterthought in Manager of the Year conversation?

With the Orioles on the road lsat week, I took the opportunity to visit one of my favorite places, and one of the jewels of our home region: the Delmarva shore. For the record, the seashore is one of the few places on earth that rivals a ballpark for my attention. There’s nothing like braving the surf during the day, and then quite literally sittin’ on the dock of the bay watching the tide roll away as you watch Orioles baseball outdoors at dockside restaurants.

During my time at the shore, I came across this tweet from ESPN’s Dan Shulman. I was immediately troubled, not so much by what Shulman said, but by what he didn’t say. He threw the names of Bob Melvin, Robin Ventura, Joe Maddon and Joe Girardi out there for Manager of the Year in the American League. I’ll get to Girardi and Maddon in a moment, however, one could make a strong case for either Ventura or Melvin. But with that said, shouldn’t Buck Showalter be on that list, as well?

In fairness to Shulman, who I think for the most part is a very fair and decent commentator, after a few Orioles fans chimed in he quickly tweeted that Showalter absolutely should be a candidate. However, I guess my issue was that he, along with it seems almost everyone else, needed to be reminded about the fact that Showalter’s name should be up there. I won’t sit here and make the case for Showalter to be manager of the year other than saying that many people said the Orioles would lose 100 games and Showalter has them in playoff contention. (The old expectation versus results argument.)

I was just as wrong as everyone else when my prediction on Birds Watcher was 74 wins. However, the fact is that the argument for Buck should speak for itself. Without a doubt, Melvin and Ventura could have an equal claim to the award based on the jobs they’ve done. I don’t feel that anyone out there feels that Showalter should not be a candidate. (If someone could make an argument against Showalter right now, I’d be interested to hear it.) I suppose my issue is that folks seem to need a friendly reminder to include Showalter on that list.

As for Maddon, my only argument against him would be that it seems the expectation there now is for him to do something with nothing. So if Tampa Bay goes to the playoffs, that almost would have been the expectation given that Maddon’s trademark is to pull a rabbit out of a hat. That may be a weak argument, but how many times has he done it? But the fact that Shulman threw Girardi’s name into the conversation is laughable. The guy has the best team that money can buy, year in and year out, and he should be the manager of the year because of a few injuries? For that matter, one could argue that Bobby Valentine should get the award because the Red Sox were even able to win a game with all of their injuries and issues.

I’m not saying that the only criterion should be results versus expectations. However, the results that the Orioles have provided to this point are in stark contrast to what was predicted. I truly feel that unless you’ve gone out and bought a brand-new team, that kind of difference goes hand in hand with good coaching. Furthermore, look at the year-over-year improvement that the Orioles will end up recording (regardless of whether or not they make the playoffs). Again, that’s good managing. I said above that I wasn’t going to make a case for Showalter in this column - I guess that wasn’t true!

Ultimately I think that the franchise needs to start making some waves in the national media about this. Please don’t misread me, as I do feel that Melvin and Ventura have equally as good of a case. However, I’d hate to see that prestigious of an award go to someone else just because they were vociferous about it and the Orioles weren’t. Again, it has very little to do with the playoffs; I’m looking at results based on what was predicted and expected. Having said that, I have a weekend excursion planned to the Delmarva shore for the weekend after Labor Day. That might get canceled, as New York’s coming to town for what should be a huge series with playoff implications.

Domenic Vadala blogs about the Orioles at Birds Watcher, and his opinions appear here as part of’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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