Buck's the System

Busk Showalter, the Diamondbacks' workaholic manager, proves that there is crying in baseball.

Case in point: July 16, Arlington, Texas, another back-and-forth game with the Texas Rangers, an early lead lost, a load of questionable calls, and a lot of hard feelings.

In the top of the ninth inning, with the score tied at 9-9, Luis Gonzalez lost his temper after the umpire called a strike Gonzalez didn't think had actually crossed the plate. Like a jackrabbit leading a coyote away from its warren, Showalter was suddenly between his player and the ump, pumping his jaws, walking deliberately away from Gonzalez and taking the ump with him.

The game face is steely, the man is not.
Paolo Vescia
The game face is steely, the man is not.

In the bottom of the inning, Showalter was faced with a dilemma: Texas slugger Rafael Palmeiro came to the plate with two men in scoring position. Showalter decided to walk Palmeiro, load the bases, and take his chances with the next batter.

He lost the gamble and the game when the pitcher walked that batter. It was an ignominious loss, the kind that looks stupid in hindsight. Angry fans would be calling the talk-radio shows to offer their opinions. There would be hell to pay on the highlights that evening.

After the game, when the press was allowed into the clubhouse, Showalter waited, stony-faced, his eyebrows still arched so high they threatened to knock his hat off his head.

The newsmen looked at the floor until one asked the perfunctory question about the walk.

"Palmeiro, that's what it is," Showalter said crisply but politely. "Any time you can take the bat out of the hands of a great hitter ..."

His voice trailed off. No one seemed to have anything to ask.

"What else?" Showalter barked.

It was midnight before he sat down in the visiting manager's office to watch the game on film. He was still awake in his hotel room at 4 o'clock, when the morning newspaper slipped under his door, and he read it before he allowed himself to fall asleep.

He'd be up early to prepare for the next game.

Contact Michael Kiefer at his online address: mkiefer@newtimes.com

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