Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics was named the 2012 AL Manager of the Year. There are those in Maryland who believe that Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter should have gotten the award. They have a strong case to back them up.
Showalter took over a Baltimore franchise that was going nowhere and all but irrelevant in 2010. They were 32-74 when he took the job in July of that season. The Orioles had become so bad that fans began wearing paper bags over their heads when attending games. Baltimore was 64-98 in 2009 and had not had a winning season or made the playoffs since 1997. After Orioles legend Cal Ripken, Jr. retired in 2001, attendance began to decline and fans turned their focus to the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL.
Despite what some people may believe, Baltimore is and always will be a football town. It was when the Baltimore Colts made the city their home from 1954 to 1983 and became one again when the Ravens arrived in 1996. The Orioles have their legion of fans and they are passionate. However, the city lives and dies with its football team.
This is what Showalter had to deal with when arriving in Baltimore. The fan base was sick and tired of losing and listening to excuses from owner Peter Angelos. Many who had traveled up the Baltimore/Washington Parkway to watch the Orioles began attending Washington Nationals games when they arrived in 2005. Baltimore was a mess from top to bottom and there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Showalter was the team’s third manager in 2010 following Dave Trembley and Juan Samuel.
The Manager of the Year Award is based on what one does in the course of one season, but everyone knows that past success and failure is taken into account. This is one of the reasons why many managers win the award. They take a team that was not expected to do anything and get them to the post season. Both the A’s and Orioles were not expected to do much in 2012, thus Melvin and Showalter were the front runners for Manager of the Year.
Fans in Baltimore believe that Showalter should have won it, because Baltimore was expected to lose in 2012 and beyond. Oriole fans had put up with 15 years of losing and mismanagement. There was no reason to believe that Showalter would give them a playoff team this year. Not only did Showalter do that, he almost got Baltimore to the AL Championship Series. The Orioles dropped a tight five game divisional series to the New York Yankees.
Though Melvin did a tremendous job in Oakland, he did not resurrect a franchise as Showalter did. Before Showalter the Orioles were nothing. Though they are still the Ravens little brother at least they are relevant again.
For bringing winning baseball and the fans back to Baltimore, Orioles fans have every right to believe Showalter should have been named AL Manager of the Year.