For Buck Showalter, the Mariners represent everything that could have been

Buck Showalter was carrying a mushroom bat as he urgently walked into his step and a do not disturb look in the eye, heading for the bench tunnel that would lead him to another encounter before another series.

Yes, it was just another game with an American League team in a National League park on a foggy Friday night in May and, in the end, a fairly insignificant 2-1 defeat, even with Max Scherzer on the hill. The Mets are still dominating their division and are still the only baseball team not to have lost a series yet.

But for their leader, Seattle can never truly be an anonymous team on the other side of the field. In a different New York, time and place, the Mariners were the life-changing adversaries of Buck Showalter.

So after pausing and saying he didn’t think much about the epic best of five AL Division Series his Yankees lost to the Mariners in 1995, he didn’t have enough time on an opening day of the series ( and after losing receiver James McCann to injury) to reflect on a playoff defeat from long ago, the memories have passed him. Had his Yankees won that Game 5 in the Kingdome and moved on to ALCS, Showalter might not have been kicked out of his job by George Steinbrenner.

Showalter may have won two or three of those four championships that his successor, Joe Torre, won over the next five years.

“It broke my heart; believe me, I didn’t want to leave, “the Mets manager told The Post.” I’ve been there 19 years, but I remembered something my dad told me over the years. He said to me, “There will come a time in your life where you have to plant your feet and take a stand, and it will be really painful “.”

Buck Showalter, right, and George Steinbrenner
Buck Showalter, right, and George Steinbrenner

Showalter made that painful stance on behalf of some coaches that Steinbrenner wanted to remove. The Yankees owner offered his manager a two-year contract to return, but the deal was conditional on the sacking of those Showalter loyalists, including Glenn Sherlock, now the Mets’ bench coach.

Buck had no intention of sacrificing his friends to keep his dream job.

“I remember my wife saying, ‘What are you doing? Are you sure about this?’ Showalter recalled. “We didn’t have anything. I said, ‘Hey, were we happy when I was running in Albany? Were we paying the bills? Were we breaking even? ‘ I was refereeing six nights a week and I said: “Everything will be fine”. ”

Sherlock followed Showalter to Arizona to work on the Diamondbacks expansion, which didn’t play until 1998. He also left Pittsburgh four months ago to follow Showalter again, this time in Queens. Sherlock first worked for Showalter in the Yankees system in 1989, as a player / manager in Albany. When he finished batting training on Friday, Sherlock recalled that he wanted to learn from a master strategist whose mastery of fundamentals has earned the respect of the players.

“Buck always thinks about the players’ point of view and what’s best for them,” Sherlock said. “Even during spring training, when we are doing the program, he is thinking about the best way to rotate and what will be best for the players as we move from one court to another.

“He always pays attention to detail and is very defense oriented. … When we were in Washington [on Thursday] and we got those two out on third base, Buck immediately tells me, ‘What impressed you about that game?’ And I know he’s thinking of Starling Mars to support the show. … This is important for Buck, and because it is important for him, it is important for our players ”.

Buck Showalter
Buck Showalter

Sherlock said his boss separates himself from most of his peers on that particular side of the ball.

“In a lot of teams I’ve been to, there will be a designated manager who manages the team’s defenses,” he said. “In our situation, Buck manages all the defenses of the team. He is on the pitch, he directs it. I think the players see him and know that he knows where they should be at all times, and that touches them. ”

All these years later, after things went badly in the Bronx, Sherlock said it “meant a lot that Buck had his back to us” when Steinbrenner called for a change.

“For him to go back to New York and win [a championship] closing the circle, it would be incredible, “Sherlock said.” I don’t think you can write it better, and that’s what we all strive to do.

Showalter’s No. 1 Yankees were robbed of a chance for a title in 1994, when the World Series was canceled due to labor strife. The following year, he led the Yankees to their first post-season appearance in 14 years, only to be denied by a Seattle team that included Joe Cora, now his third baseman, who scored and started the game. eleventh winning rally in Race 5.

“His name was Joey Blankin ‘Cora then,” Showalter said on Friday. “He always reminds me, so I let him show it once in the spring just to make him feel good.

“But what I took the most from that series was the fact that people said it rekindled their love of the game. It is a proud moment for me. I try to focus on this “.

Especially with the Mariners in town, reminding Showalter what it could have been.


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