Orioles manager Buck Showalter gave an award-worthy interview this morning on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show.
Showalter will find out tonight whether he’s been named American League Manager of the Year in voting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He’s a finalist along with Oakland’s Bob Melvin and Chicago’s Robin Ventura.
In the meantime, here are a few comments from his appearance on MLB Network:
“The goal is to have (success) long-term.” he said. “Our fans have withstood a lot of tough times. And we don’t want this to be one-year competitive and then take a year off. That’s the thing I have the most respect for in sports, in general, from a team standpoint: people who can do it year in and year out. It’s so hard. These are the best players in the world, the best managers and coaches in the world supposedly. And that’s what makes it such a challenge.
“It’s a great baseball city. We don’t take a back seat to anybody in baseball history for fans love of their city and love of their team. It’s just a great summer for us. Now the challenge is to keep that faith and keep that respect that we’re starting to win back.”
As for the success that Showalter attained this year, he said, “It’s just trusting the players. It’s about them. It’s not about the manager and trying to impose his will. You try to lead through example, but at the same time it’s got to come from them.”
Showalter was reminded of advice that former Yankees manager Billy Martin once gave him. In a taped interview, which the studio hosts played for him, Showalter said, “Billy told me a long time ago, ‘Buck, if you want to keep the respect of your players, never let them see you naked.’ And I kept that in mind.”
Laughing at the recollection this morning, Showalter said, “That’s key. On getaway day, you want to make sure everybody’s through showering before you get in.”
He added, “One of the keys this year was going to the cartoon bird on the hat. That was a good 15 or 20 games. I’m not kidding. Our fans love it, too.”
Showalter also offered an anecdote about seeking privacy from television cameras during the postseason.
“There are so many things that go on behind the scenes because you’ve got a camera here and a camera there,” he said. “I remember in the playoffs I was trying to have a private conversation with Rick Adair, our pitching coach, about something late in the game in Texas. They had this camera in the dugout that kept following us. I kept trying to find a private place. We ended up going in the bathroom and having a conversation. A couple players walked by and thought we were nuts.”
Tonight’s winners in the AL and National League will be announced on MLB Network beginning at 6 p.m. It could be a beltway sweep with Showalter and the Nationals’ Davey Johnson.
The voting figures to be especially close between Showalter and Melvin.
“I’m a fan of the game and I realize how hard it is to do the things that Bobby and Robin and a lot of guys do,” Showalter said. “It’s just good baseball and it reminds you of what you can do when you get a bunch of people with one heartbeat that have really given into the group. And that’s what people miss when they get out of the game, being part of a team, having a common goal. It’s a special thing to go through and I think our people will benefit from it.
“It was fun to watch Robin and Bobby do the things they did this year. It wasn’t much fun to play against them. I can tell you that.”