This is a series that Orioles fans have had circled for a while now, the return of Buck Showalter to Camden Yards. First time he's been back since the final game of the 2019 season when the Orioles were closing the book on their 54-108 season. Things didn't end well with Buck in Baltimore but it was the beginning of the rebuild and it was a tough situation for all. He and Dan Duquette weren't brought back and it ushered in a new era of Orioles baseball. An era that saw the winningest team in the AL from 2012 to 2016 and included an ALCS appearance, but ultimately they never got over the hump. Buck was the guy who helped bring winning back to Baltimore. He took a job that NO ONE wanted, Baltimore was not a desirable destination and he turned that around. For people my age, born in the late 1980s, we remember the mid-1990s teams, so this wasn't our first taste of a winning ball club. But for a lot of readers and Orioles fans, those mid-2010s Orioles were the first taste of winning on the diamond that you ever had. That 2012 team was incredible and came out of nowhere and it kick started a great 5 year period for the Orioles.
When he left you figured he'd be back managing in some capacity, we just didn't know where. He did the baseball analyst thing for a few seasons before being hired by the Mets. The new balanced schedule meant that the Orioles would face the Mets once a year and it just so happened that this season the Mets come to Baltimore which means the return of Buck. I'm going to say it, it's going to be emotional. There is a legit chance that I tear up and cry when I see Buck coming back out to the field. No doubt they give him a nice video tribute which is what he deserves for being the guy who helped bring the winning back. He walked so Brandon Hyde could run. It is neat that he comes back the same season where the Orioles are the best team in the AL, he gets to see a winning ball club here again and he spoke to reporters this week about how happy he was that winning is back in Baltimore. 9 years in Baltimore, 3 trips to the playoffs, and 669 wins. It is kind of funny how loved and respected he is by Orioles fans and how much he is hated and loathed by Mets fans.
The amount of highs that this club had with Buck at the helm was incredible, the end of the 2011 season, the entire 2012 team (16-2 in extra innings and 29-9 in 1 run games) and Wild Card Game vs Texas where he had the BALLS to start Joe Saunders vs Yu Darvish in a do or die game. Then we had the 2014 season where everything went right for the O's and they cruised to their first division title since 1997. What a fun year that was for the entire city, it brought a lot of casual fans back to supporting the ball club. The way he handled the Freddie Gray Riots in Baltimore during the 2015 season should be commended too, he gave one of the best press conferences you'll ever hear after the game that they played with 0 fans.
Obviously the one blemish on his record is the Ubaldo move in the 2016 Wild Card Game. We will never know why he didn't put Britton into the game in Toronto, it was a massive brain fart that basically saw the Orioles window to contend get slammed shut. 2 years later everyone from that team was basically gone and it was onto the rebuild. He never won the big one but what he did and meant to the city and team can not be understated. He came here when no one would even pick up a phone call from the O's and completely turned the franchise around. It sucks to see what is happening to him and the Mets this year because it adds fuel to the fire that he is an overrated manager. I think he is a great manager who just can't find the way to get the big one, Dusty Baker had that same energy around him up until last year.
Regardless of what happens to him as a Met this year I hope there isn't an ass in the seat tonight when he walks out onto the grass in Camden Yards tonight. Every single person should be standing up giving him applause with tears in their eyes. The guy means so much to Baltimore and he deserves to know how Orioles fans feel about him. It is going to be awesome to see Buck make his way back to Baltimore and I really hope he gets the ovation he deserves from the Baltimore faithful. It's going to be emotional, and it should. A lot of us owe a ton to Buck for helping give us those awesome 5 years, some of the best moments in sports that I will never forget. He's one of the most influential characters in Baltimore sports history and deserves to be celebrated as such.
Welcome back, 26!