Orioles manager Buck Showalter usually does a good job of holding in his emotion.
You have to look closely to see a glimpse, like the proud but subtle smile he offered when his team clinched the American League East. He's even better when under the spotlight of the postseason news conference. He has worked on television at ESPN, so he knows what to say in front of the camera.
But after his team's season ended Wednesday with a 2-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, Showalter's words were slow and his eyes were glassy when describing the feeling of coming so close to bringing the World Series to Baltimore for the first time in 31 years.
"Through it, we got some good things done," Showalter said. "We reminded the country what a great baseball city, and city in general, Baltimore is. I feel good about that. … I guarantee you, we'll do everything possible to try to give them and the organization and our fans this opportunity again. I can promise you that."
After the loss, Showalter faced the tough task of talking to his players after the Orioles' season ended.
"But it's kind of shallow," Showalter said. "There's so many things that, during the year, it's just an unspoken word, a look at each other, there's a real respect for each other. And like I just told them, the game's not always fair. Someone's going to be extremely disappointed. It's our guys. When you put that much time and effort into something, then it's done, so close."
In his 16th year as a major league manager — from his rise through the New York Yankees organization, his building of the Arizona Diamondbacks and his resuscitation of the Texas Rangers — Baltimore is where Showalter made his deepest run to the postseason. Asked how he took the loss, Showalter deflected back on how much he felt for his players and also the team's fan base.
"And that's why I know how much it hurts those guys," Showalter said. "And our fans, they've been there through thick and thin for us in Baltimore. The support of the ownership has been there. Really feel bad about disappointing them, and not be able to get over the hump and roll the dice again.
"You see how close the margin is."
Since all four games were decided by two runs or fewer — both games at Kauffman Stadium were one-run games — Showalter admitted that he immediately wondered if he could have done something differently.
"But whether it's one [run] or a hundred, it still has the same sting," Showalter said. "And just like Detroit felt, just like Oakland felt."
Showalter said he didn't watch the Royals storm the field to celebrate winning a pennant after the final out of Wednesday's game. Instead, he retreated to the visiting clubhouse of Kauffman Stadium to be with his team.
"I didn't wait around to see it," Showalter said. "I knew what it was going to be for them, to accomplish, a team, a city, a group of fans and an organization's hopes. … But my support and my love of our guys is unconditional. They didn't have to win a World Series for me to feel differently about them.
"So we'll start all over again. I know [executive vice president] Dan [Duquette] and I will get ready, get moving to figure out a way to get back here again."