Pass the Buck
To quote Robert quoting me, "Toldja so."
Look, as I wrote in last week's column in paper version of Unfair Park, Buck Showalter isn't a bad guy. He just isn't the right guy. After four consecutive third-or-worse finishes and a record of 319-329 as the Texas Rangers' manager, a managerial change was desperately needed and, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, is a done deal. Showalter will be fired today, if he hasn't been already.
And I hear the leading candidate to replace him will come from within, in the form of either bench coach Don Wakamatsu or hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, probably the most popular person in Texas' clubhouse. Veteran retreads such as Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella and Frank Robinson are also available. But after years of Buck's no-nonsense style grating on players, a change to a kindler, gentler leader seems more prudent.
Buck is a great baseball man. But his personality quirks, reluctance to smile and lack of, dare I say, hip communication skills eventually gnawed at the nerves of young players such as Michael Young and Mark Teixeira. There were never lightning-rod incidents with Buck, just a cumulative effect of treating baseball like a business rather than a game that wore out his welcome in Texas. Showalter, who still has three years and $6 million remaining on his contract, might be asked to stay with the organization alongside John Hart as a consultant.
Buck learned his fate at Tuesday's last supper at owner Tom Hicks' house. The good news for Rangers fans: After Showalter was fired by the Yankees in '95 and the Diamondbacks in '00, those teams won the World Series the following year. After 35 years and only one playoff game victory, it can't hurt. --Richie Whitt