Without question, the Baltimore Orioles have been the biggest surprise in big league baseball in 2012.
Near the halfway mark of the season, Baltimore is 41-31, and trails the New York Yankees by 3.0 games in the AL East.
For Orioles fans this is exciting news. This is especially true when one considers this team was 33-39 last year at this time, a time when Baltimore was again in last place, already 10 games behind the first place Boston Red Sox.
As a baseball fan who has endured the pain of losing baseball since my arrival in Baltimore more than a decade ago, it is impossible not to enjoy the intoxicating smell of winning baseball in the city.
At 333 West Camden Street, Baltimore’s brick and mortar ballpark has come alive with excited fans that sense something not seen since the late 1990s.
Outside the park, popular bars and grills and businesses along Russell and Pratt Streets boom with orange and black. This, as opposed to watching an onslaught of out of town fans who have come and gone after the teams they rooted for won on the road.
Sportscasters on local television have beamed in the face of another Orioles victory, instead of quickly mentioning another loss before moving on to Ravens football.
And radio show personalities—local and national—are doing interviews with Orioles players whose excitement for playing for this team oozes through the speakers.
Looming in the background of these positive developments is a quiet, gruff, straight-forward manager, Buck Showalter.
Never one to steal the show from his ballplayers, Showalter has led this team like a seasoned four-star general on the field of baseball battle.
Most importantly, Showalter has gotten both this team and this city to begin to believe in hopes for a bright future.
With that said, in this slideshow, I will highlight five reasons why Showalter deserves to win his third AL Manager of the Year Award.