At just 36 years old Buck Showalter took over a Yankees team that was spiraling out of control in 1992. After two straight years finishing at or near the bottom of the American League East the Yankees front office showed some uncharacteristic patience and decided to let a young, rookie manager lead a growing core of young players. This was a direct result of George Steinbrenner's MLB-mandated ban from day-to-day operations, but that was beside the point. The Yankees finally had a plan.
After spending seven unspectacular seasons as a player in the Yankees minor league system, Showalter had worked his way up the minor league managing ranks and even served as third base coach for the big league team in 1990 and 1991. He learned the skills of a manager and coach by helping to develop the players that, by 1992, were ready to contribute at the major league level, so he was the perfect man for his new position. By 1993, the Yankees were already contenders as they flirted with the division lead all season but ultimately finished second behind the World Series champion Toronto Blue Jays.
Showalter and his new-look Yankees took it to the next level in 1994. They cruised their way to the best record in the American League before the rug was pulled out from under them in the form of a players' union strike that led to the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. Ouch. Buck and his boys built off of that success the following season when they earned a playoff spot as the inaugural American League Wild Card winner. The 14-year playoff drought was over for the Yankees and things looked promising as they took the first two of a five-game series in dramatic fashion against the Mariners. Alas, they collapsed and squandered the last three games of a series that might have gone differently if Showalter had relied on the chosen one a bit more. However, no one in their right mind could have known what he was capable of at that point.
Following the 1995 season, the patience in the front office that had gotten Showalter hired in the first place vanished and he was let go. The winning foundation he had built was then handed over to Joe Torre who, as we all know, managed the Yankees to four World Series titles. You can't help but feel bad for Buck, though. If the 1994 strike doesn't happen, do the Yankees win that World Series? If they do, does that give him more leniency regarding the 1995 collapse and protect his job? If the Steinbrenner ban lasted just a couple more years, is he even on the hot seat after the collapse to begin with?
The world may never know, but it's safe to say that if Showalter was brought back he would have had a great opportunity for success. Put on your votin' hats and let us know what you think below.
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