For all of his feuds with them and the competition that builds with 19 divisional games each season, Orioles manager Buck Showalter must be feeling a difficult mix of relief and remorse for the firing of the two AL East managers that earned playoff berths this year — Boston's John Farrell and now New York's Joe Girardi.
On the one hand, managing against those two for as long as he did made Showalter particularly sensitive to the idiosyncrasies of each man and his team, which made them easy targets as he fostered the Orioles' "Us against the world" mentality. He'll undoubtedly find the same with new Red Sox manager Alex Cora and whomever replaces Girardi, but it will take a while to reach the levels of their predecessors.
However, as someone who has been fired three times and seen success come after, Showalter has a good idea of what the future could hold for those two titans in his division. They made managerial switches because their clubhouses are full of young, dynamic talent that should contend for championships for the next five years at least, and managers better suited for this generation of both players and the game itself.
Cora will be in lock step with the front office on personnel decisions and has been praised for his knack of translating analytics into relatable information to the players. Girardi was numbers-obsessed from the start, as his infamous binder showed, but even he found himself out of step with how his players and management want things run.
Each team, both with vastly superior young talent than the Orioles have and a longer window to continue contending, has made a move to improve that will give everyone at Camden Yards pause as to what happens going forward. The Yankees announced themselves as contenders this month, while Boston's back-to-back division titles and the core of players that got them there aren't going anywhere.
Showalter had the perfect team early in his tenure to foster resentment for the two division powers, and rode that to great effect. The Orioles still seem to take pleasure in beating Boston, which they did 10 times this year, and a quarter of their schedule being made up of these two teams will allow some kind of simmering ill will to continue.
But as he enters the last year of his contract — and so do stars Manny Machado, Adam Jones, and Zach Britton, not to mention executive vice president Dan Duquette — the elder statesman among managers in the American League East and second-longest tenured manager in the AL probably doesn't know what to make of the changes among his peers.
There's likely no transition to take advantage of — only the hope that a better starting rotation in 2018 allows the Orioles to keep up before such decisions have to be made on their end.