MLB Network goes semi-deep with Buck Showalter this week

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter. (Scott Halleran / Getty Images)

The MLB Network has an all-star week treat for Baltimore fans at 7 p.m. Wednesday with "Buck Showalter, A Life in Baseball," an hourlong interview/profile hosted by Bob Costas.

Don't come looking for big, revealing moments, and you won't be disappointed. In his own way, Showalter is as much a media pro as Costas. Even when he sounds like he might be giving out a bit of news -- as when he talks about retirement here -- it's mainly a tease.


Costas gets only as much as Showalter wants to give. And from the looks of the interview, it was done mostly in a few of takes one day at Camden Yards -- in other words, Showalter fitting it in between his duties as manager and saying a lot of the same things Baltimore fans have heard him say before.

It opens with Showalter saying, "What are we trying to do here?"


And Costas replying, "Wherever it goes. Wherever it goes."

I like TV that deconstructs itself and shows some of the sausage being made. But here it feels more like a lazy opening as that's the only deconstructing of the interview/profile genre that you get during the hour.

That said, this is still an engaging and informative conversation. Showalter is one of the few figures in major league baseball who has some genuine wisdom to share -- not just about baseball, but about life. And there is enough of that here to make it worth going out of your way to see, especially for Baltimore fans who like Showalter.

And the producers of "MLB Network Presents" do bring other voices into the hour: Angela Showalter, wife of the Orioles manager; Gene Michael, the former New York Yankees general manager who gave Showalter his start in coaching; and Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones.

One of the most interesting exchanges comes near the end of the hour when Costas asks Showalter to look down the road at what might be next for him.

"This is my last rodeo," he says. "I'm 58, going to be 59 here. I ain't getting out of this one alive."

"You don't think there's any chance you'll manage another big league club?" Costas asks.

"No, I approach every one like I'm not going to," Showalter responds. "I get the shelf life of us. I got it. It's shortened. You know, they'll give me about a 10-minute notice. And I'll clean my stuff up, say, 'Thanks for the opportunity,' kiss a couple of heads on the way out and say, 'Gosh, I can't believe I fooled them that long.' … At some point, your voice gets old."

If you parse that and the rest of answer in the show, though, there is nothing that actually says he won't manage here or elsewhere as long as someone wants to pay him.

I like the talk in this piece about the need for Showalter to win a World Series if he wants to be considered a great manager.

"He has several years left, I think," Michael says. "But time isn't always fair. He has to win a World Series championship to be up there with the big boys."

Showalter seems to get that. In talking about legacy he mentions the statues of Jim Palmer, Cal Ripken, Earl Weaver, Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson at Camden Yards.


"It's like I told Adam Jones," Showalter says to Costas. "I said, 'Adam, you know, you could have one of those out there one day. But you know what the difference is with all those guys? Every one of them was on a championship team.' That's how you get statues in Baltimore."

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