BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 18: Manager Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles walks to the dugout during the game against the Minnesota Twins at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 18, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Before I went to sleep yesterday I was laying in bed thinking of all the things I need to do today. When I realized that I'd be writing the weekly fan confidence post I started cracking up, because seriously?
Last night, when Nick Markakis grounded out with two men on and two men out to end the fifth inning, I turned off the game. There were still four innings to play, Chris Tillman was pitching pretty well, and the O's were only down by three, but I knew they wouldn't come back. That pretty much tells you all you need to know about my confidence level.
When Buck Showalter took over last summer and the O's spent two months playing baseball the likes of which we hadn't seen in Baltimore for years, he became a hero. The Orioles front office/marketing people latched onto that goldmine, giving us Buck Showalter t-shirt day, plastering his face on billboards and the warehouse, and rolling out a series of commercials scripted with lines actually spoken by Showalter in press conferences. If that's not enough, just wait until June 25th when you can pick up your very own Buck Showalter bobblehead at the gate.
I don't blame the Orioles for going this route with Showalter. His arrival coincided with a stretch of baseball that had people talking about the Orioles in September for the first time in over a decade. He's a big name with a long track record, and people were genuinely excited about him. And why not? I do still believe that Showalter is the right man for the job. I'm just concerned that the Orioles fan base (more the fan base at large than the participants here, as we tend to be a salty bunch) took what the Orioles were feeding them about Showalter with too much faith and now that things are falling apart it almost seems worse because we were promised this wouldn't happen under Buck.
I've been telling myself and others since Showalter arrived that he's not a miracle worker. I always believed the Orioles would come back to earth if their young pitching began to falter and their old, old free agent hitters didn't hit the way it was believed they would. But last season, as weeks of good play stretched into months, which gave way to a Spring Training filled with Showalter propaganda, which turned into a 6-1 start, I let my guard down a bit. I never stopped believing that the Orioles still need a lot more talent to compete, but I did start to buy into the Buck effect.
The way Showalter has been built up, it makes it seems worse when he makes a questionable move like bringing Kevin Gregg into multiple high leverage situations while Koji Uehara sits the bench. It's been forced down our throats that Showalter isn't like other managers, so when he relies on a pitcher who is obviously not the best man for the job simply because he's been named the closer, I take it more personally.
I like Buck Showalter. I'm happy that he's managing the Orioles. I believe he's a good manager. But the Orioles, in their desperation to grab onto anything positive about this team, have put him up on such a high pedestal that the only possible outcome is for him to fall.
This has been your Gillette Fusion Pro-Glide Fan Confidence Roundup. Please shave...responsibly.