A night before Buck Showalter made his return to Camden Yards, the former skipper drove by the place he called home for nine seasons.
The first thing that stood out to him? The Topgolf located down the street.
“They didn’t have that then,” he said. “I would have been a little later to the ballpark.”
A few more things have changed since the last time he was in town. Although he led the team to 669 wins — including two playoff appearances — his tenure ended in less than ideal fashion. The 2018 team lost a franchise-record 115 games, trading away Manny Machado, Zack Britton, Jonathan Schoop, Darren O’Day and Kevin Gausman that year.
It signified the start of the Orioles’ rebuild, but Showalter wasn’t around to see it to fruition. He was fired after the season.
He returned Friday night for the first time, now in his second season as manager of the Mets. He was facing the American League-best Orioles, who sent Dean Kremer, traded to Baltimore in the Machado deal in 2018, to the mound.
“Baltimore, the way the Orioles are playing, it’s great for the city and the organization,” Showalter said. “It’s a lesson for all of us. Proud to see there’s some guys over there that were here when I was here too.”
The Orioles presented their former skipper with a tribute video. His focus is on his new team, he said, but he did allow himself a moment, perched on the top step of the dugout, to reminisce.
“Right now it’s about the Mets,” he said. “Believe me, I have the same feelings for the Mets and Queens as I did for Baltimore. We’ve always committed to every community we have the honor of being in.”
While the ending to his tenure wasn’t ideal, Showalter’s time in Baltimore wasn’t all bad. There were the playoff appearances, of course. But he also remembers fondly the moments with the community. In 2014 fans lined up to welcome the team back to Baltimore after beating Detroit in the American League Division Series. Or, the day before a playoff series, when he walked across the street to Pickles to ask the fans if they were ready. He left without playing a beer pong game.
The Mets, after winning 101 games a year ago, are in a similar predicament as the Orioles were in Showalter’s last season. They traded future Hall of Famers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, refocusing their timeline on the 2025 season.
“It’s difficult for our fans,” Showalter said. “Some good things can happen. I get to see a lot of things behind the scenes, especially with the young players, the opportunities they are getting.”