As the Orioles enter the final week of their worst season in team history, they are likely closing the chapter on a much larger story. It’s likely the end of two eras in Baltimore that include two of the franchise’s most important figures. Buck Showalter and Adam Jones probably aren’t returning to the team in 2019, and that brings up a lot of emotions for fans and the organization alike.
I hate to even use the word “bittersweet,” because it sounds so much like a tired, old cliché. For the Orioles and these two figures this season, there hasn’t been a lot of the “sweet” part. The era is coming to a close with a bit of a dud. But if you take a step back and look at things with a wide lens, it’s really something to be celebrated.
Since joining the Orioles prior to the 2008 season in what could be considered one of the best trades in team history, Jones has led the club in as many ways off the field as he has on it. The center fielder has been to five All-Star Games, won four Gold Gloves and helped lead Team USA to its first World Baseball Classic championship in 2017.
Yet the impact he’s made in the community and with fans could become an even bigger legacy. It will never be forgotten the way Jones took a “victory lap” around the warning track, à la Cal Ripken Jr., following the O’s win to clinch the American League East in 2014. He connected with fans in that moment in a way few players ever do. His relentless work in the community is part of the reason he’s so beloved. As the Orioles return home later this week to play their final few home games in what’s been a dreadful season, it would be great to see the fans show up and see him once more in an Orioles uniform.
The same can be said for Showalter, who is likely managing his final week of games for the Orioles. The skipper joined the O’s in the middle of the 2010 season and promptly went 34-23 with them the rest of the way. He then took an Orioles team mired in a decade and a half of losing to three postseason appearances from 2012-2016. For much of that five-year stretch, the O’s were the best team in the American League record-wise. The Orioles went through six different managers after Davey Johnson left following a playoff appearance in 1997 and once Showalter showed up, there was a calming presence brought to the position. It finally seemed like the Birds had a skipper that could take them somewhere. Not to mention, who hasn’t loved the many one-liners and clever quips Showalter would come up with during his postgame press conferences?
This era of Orioles baseball appears to be coming to a resounding and thud-like close after this week. But just because it’s ending doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good thing. There was a lot of great baseball seen over the course of the last eight to 10 years, and no one can take that away. Rather than choosing to be upset about the way things have gone, I’ll choose to spend this week reflecting on what was good in recent Orioles history. I’m also going to do my best to have some hope that another positive era can be on the horizon and that the next combo of Jones and Showalter can be found soon. It was fun while it lasted, but it was never going to last forever. Instead of lamenting that, I’ll appreciate it.
Andrew Stetka blogs about the Orioles for Eutaw Street Report. Follow him on Twitter: @AStetka. His thoughts on the O’s appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s continuing commitment to welcome guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.