Buck Showalter doesn't walk on water. We know that now.
He's not some sort of magician, either. He can't just wave his arms and fix the Orioles. It's going to take time to do that. And money, which they don't seem to want to spend. And good players, which they don't have — at least not enough of them.
I bring up Showalter today because Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the firing of Dave Trembley, which led to the hiring of Showalter and the ushering in of yet another "new era" for this franchise.
I forget how many new eras the Orioles have had in the past 13 years. But it sure seems like a lot of them. This team goes through new eras the way you and I go through Kleenex.
Getting back to Trembley, you remember how that sad business with him went down last season.
The Orioles got off to that horror-show 15-39 start. They were coming off a road trip in which they went 0-6 and were outscored 34-8 by the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees. Trembley could feel the axe man coming.
The team came home, with everyone feeling down and out-of-sorts. And as soon as the bus pulled up to Camden Yards, Trembley got the metaphorical tap on the shoulder.
Boss wants to see you, he was told. The sit-down with Andy MacPhail didn't last long. But Trembley, as classy as they come, even if he was over-matched in a big-league dugout, made it easy on the O's president of baseball operations.
I know I'm a goner, Trembley said, or words to that effect. Do what you gotta do.
After that, nice-guy Juan Samuel moved into the manager's office. But everyone knew he was just keeping the seat warm for the next guy. And the next guy turned out to be Showalter, who had a glittering resume that included the resurrection of three different franchises (Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers) and a reputation for wearing out his welcome.
Baltimore was ecstatic. Showalter was a marquee name. And when he led the Orioles to a 34-23 finish, people were ready to canonize the guy.
So roughly one year later, how different is the Showalter Era from the Trembley Era? Depends on who you ask, I guess. Me, I see vast differences.
For starters, the O's are a better ballclub. They've won 26 games even with Brian Roberts and Derrek Lee and Brian Matusz on the disabled list for long stretches. Last year they didn't notch their 26th win until July 8.
Oh, sure, they still stink up the place on too many nights. They still have a losing record. They're still in last place in the American League East.
But gone is the sense that the manager's in over his head. And that he won't be around much longer anyway.
Instead, the players know they have a manager who's won everywhere he's been. And they know he's a demanding perfectionist ready to put a foot up their rear ends if he has to.
Look how Adam Jones is busting his butt this season. Look how much better he's playing. Same thing with Matt Wieters. Don't tell me it's a coincidence.
I like a lot of the things I've seen from Showalter this spring.
I like the fact he didn't panic when the Orioles went into that nose-dive after their 6-2 start and everyone in this town was thinking: Uh-oh, here we go again. Same old O's.
I like that he sent young starters Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman back to the minors after they were given every opportunity to show they could get hitters out at this level, and still spit the bit.
I liked Showalter putting Nick Markakis at first base to shake things up and see if he can't get the slumping right-fielder out of the funk he's in.
You don't make a move like that unless you're totally secure in your job. If Trembley had tried that, the critics would have killed him.
Showalter's critics — and there are plenty — say his act will inevitably start to wear on the Orioles.
Give it another year, they say, and his inner control-freak will surface, big-time. The players will get sick of him acting like the smartest guy in the room. And MacPhail will grow so tired of his micro-managing he'll want to throw himself from the Warehouse roof.
But even the critics concede Showalter is the right manager for the Orioles now. You want someone to pump life into a sad-sack franchise like the O's, Showalter's your man. It's living with him afterward that's the hard part, they say.
But who knows if that's even true anymore?
Who's to say Showalter hasn't learned from his mistakes? Isn't that how most of us move forward in life?
Maybe Showalter's figured out there's no need to meddle in every aspect of your team's operations just to prove you're a baseball Einstein. And that sometimes, you just have to let the players play.
One year after Dave Trembley was sent packing, the Orioles are still trying to find their identity. They can still be ugly to watch.
But there's no doubt Showalter makes them a better ballclub.
Even if he doesn't walk on water.
(Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Jerry Coleman on V1370 AM Sports.)