Looking back on one very wise decision

If we think back to last July, as it appeared that the Orioles were likely to name Buck Showalter as their next manager, there was one great debate ongoing.

The debate was about just when Showalter should take over the team. Many fans, it seemed well over 50 percent to me, felt Showalter should not take over the club until the season was over so he could start fresh in the dugout on opening day 2011.

We can look back now and say that Andy MacPhail's timing of Showalter's hire could not have been much better. The club went 34-23 in those last 57 games which set a tone for the O's offseason and helped fuel optimism among fans that is now at a fever pitch at times.

MacPhail's decision to have Showalter inherit a 32-73 club and manage his first game on Aug. 3 at home against Los Angeles was a good one for a variety of reasons.

* The team's injury situation was much improved by then and Brian Roberts and Mike Gonzalez had just returned to the team about a week prior to that date.

* The trade deadline had passed and the O's players knew by then who was coming and going.

* The schedule was set up so that Buck's first seven games would be at home and seven of his first eight O's series were against non-American League East opponents.

The Orioles went 6-1 in those first two series against the Angels and White Sox and a club that was 41 games under .500 when Buck took over, then went 34-23 the rest of the way.

The Orioles were 10-35 vs. the AL East before Buck and 14-13 following his arrival. After winning just one of 15 series in the division before Showalter, they went 5-4 vs. the AL East in series after Aug. 3, winning five of their last seven series versus the East.

The Orioles won just four of 34 series before he took over and went 11-6-1 in 18 series with Showalter.

Yes, some of those numbers are amazing.

Showalter has even said he wasn't sure about the timing of his first O's game and others he talked to around the game were not sure he should have taken over then either.

But those 57 games changed everything.

MacPhail's timing was perfect. He knew Buck would inherit a mostly healthy club getting back its leadoff hitter and would face a softer schedule in August then September.

He would give Showalter every opportunity to get off to a winning start. He did that, and then some.

Sometimes timing is everything.

If you want to sing before a Baysox game: The Bowie Baysox will hold live auditions at Prince George's Stadium on Saturday, March 12 to sing the national anthem before a 2011 Baysox home game. Stadium gates open for registration at 9 a.m. and auditions begin at 9:30 a.m. The team has a live performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before all 71 home games.

Every participant or group must register, and auditions are conducted on a first-come, first-served basis. The auditions are held rain or shine and reservations for audition times are not accepted. All auditions must be done in person, no CDs, cassettes or videos are accepted for review. Last year, more than 60 people auditioned to sing the national anthem.

Follow me on Twitter: @masnsteve.

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