Now that his cycle back to New York has become official, Buck Showalter can begin to leave his imprint on the New York Mets’ organization.
And you can believe he will leave an imprint, just as he has in four previous stops on the managerial trail. If his last one is any indication, Showalter is more ready than ever to handle the long haul because the seven-plus years he spent managing the Orioles is the equivalent of a lifetime in the profession.
In New York, especially with a team that has been as dysfunctional as the Mets, such a tenure would qualify as a baseball miracle.
The fact that he comes well equipped with experience dealing with hands-on ownership will serve Showalter well, as Steve Cohen has clearly demonstrated such a tendency in his 14-month stewardship with the Mets. Even in a social-media-crazed environment, announcing the hiring of a new manager via the owner’s personal Twitter account is not exactly routine.
Even though he didn’t survive thanks to a knee-jerk reaction the owner later regretted, the fact that Showalter broke in under George Steinbrenner as the youngest manager in baseball can’t be dismissed. He was the “young whippersnapper” then, the guy who got the Yankees back on the path of postseason play. It can’t be forgotten except for that rash decision, and with the “Core Four” intact, Showalter may well have been the guiding force in the dugout during the Yankees’ ensuing World Series run.
However, as the popular saying of the season goes, “If ifs and buts were candies and nuts, every day would be Christmas,” Showalter’s present for this year is a chance for a New York re-do. He’s a seasoned veteran now, an often self-described “old fuddy duddy” who’s had to adapt to the age of analytics, sometimes grudgingly, with skin a lot thicker than when he broke in.
In the Mets’ official statement announcing the hiring, general manager Billy Eppler said “this is a significant day for the organization. Buck is one of the most experienced and accomplished managers in the game, the perfect man to lead this team in the next era of Mets baseball.”
Showalter, who didn’t want his last two years in Baltimore to be the final line on his resume, is ready for what promises to be the last challenge of his career.
“This is a tremendous opportunity, and a great responsibility to represent the organization, and Mets fans and the city. I’m energized and excited to get started,” Showalter said in a statement prior to his introduction to the media Dec. 21.
In a private text earlier, Showalter said it’s “gonna be a wild ride. Gonna roll the dice one more time.”
He has been the odds-on favorite for this job from Day One, so for now at least New York is ready for him. And Buck Showalter is probably more ready for the Big Apple than he was when he took the first bite.
It’s the ultimate full life circle of baseball — from New York to New York, with a few hard knocks in between.
Jim Henneman can be reached at JimH@pressboxonliine.com
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox