DETROIT — After his team completed a tense, 2-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday to advance to the American League Championship Series, Orioles manager Buck Showalter was congratulated at the beginning of his postgame news conference for winning his first playoff series as a manager.
“Really? I got one in Albany,” Showalter quipped, referring to an Eastern League crown in 1989.
When the reporter specified he was talking about the majors, Showalter replied: “They’re all relevant.”
Fair enough. But this is the big leagues, and Showalter has been managing in it for 16 seasons. Three different times he made it to the American League Division Series — with three different clubs — and each time he lost: the 1995 New York Yankees, the 1999 Arizona Diamondbacks and the 2012 Orioles.
The most success he had in the playoffs was in 2012, when the Orioles won their one-game Wild Card playoff versus the Texas Rangers before dropping Game 5 of the ALDS against the Yankees. The Wild Card win doesn’t count as a “series” playoff victory.
Now that monkey is off Showalter’s back. He’ll be managing in an ALCS for the first time.
“That’s hard to believe,” shortstop J.J. Hardy said. “It’s awesome. It’s good for him. It’s good for the fans. It’s good all around.”
Showalter, as is his style, played down the personal accomplishment as best as he could — even though reporters asked again what this means to him.
“The thing I’m most excited about is the players getting an opportunity to do this and trying to have an impact on their lives,” Showalter said. “I mean, I got it. I’m a ship passing in the night. This is fun to watch and believe me, I’m happier than you can imagine. But most of it comes from getting to see the players get what they put into it.”