Buck Showalter and Bob Melvin face off in the Mets-Padres series

SAN DIEGO – They were hired out of season and have received rave reviews about Major League Baseball for their work with the new teams. Both have won three Manager of the Year Awards and, if things continue like this, they would be strong candidates in this year’s poll as well.

But before becoming a fast-paced teammate and friend, Buck Showalter Mets director and Bob Melvin members of the San Diego Padres shared a moment in different situations. He arrived at Yankee Stadium in 1994, when he was a 37-year-old Showalter third-year director George Steinbrenner, who led the Yankees under owner Yankee. Melvin, who was 32 at the time, was an aging catcher in his final season.

“Bobby saved my job,” Showalter said, explaining that he had three catchers on the roster at the time and was looking for an extra right-handed bat for a difficult left-handed hand in May for a game. Melvin had the unorthodox idea of ​​using a light blow as his designated player. “Sir. Steinbrenner was ready to kill me.”

Melvin responded to an unusual assignment against Baltimore’s Arthur Rhodes with a three-run home run at the bottom of the first inning of his first game at the Stadium that year, setting the tone for a 5-4 victory.

“When he got the vacuum, I said,‘ Thank you, Bobby, ’” Showalter said.

Here in the Petco Park field on Monday, before the opening of the Mets-Padres series – a meeting of the teams with the best first and third National League records, which the Mets won, 11-5 – Melvin laughed at the hyperbole. and said he did not think he was the last of the 35 home players in his major leagues to save his job. He remembers, however, for another reason.

Showalter, Melvin said, “explained to me why I played against some boys; It’s the first time I’ve had a manager. ‘

He also added that Showalter initially played with him that day at first base. But Melvin’s eyes told the director that his protective catcher wasn’t comfortable with that – Showalter still uses what he now calls “talking eyes” – and so Showalter used him as a designated player instead.

“It was probably harder for you guys to sell it to someone like me who had to answer DH, the office, or respond,” Melvin said.

But their conversation boosted Melvin’s confidence, allowed him to fully prepare, and to some extent also turned Homer into an award for Showalter.

Moments like this have always been part of Showalter’s methodology. And for 19 seasons managing Seattle, Arizona, Oakland and now San Diego, Melvin has never forgotten that lesson. He sets it up regularly these days, too.

“Even though he’s a manager and there’s a clear distinction, he felt like he was with us,” said Mark Canha, a Mets outside player who played for Melvin for seven years in Oakland before signing a two-year free agent deal. In the winter. “It simply came to our notice then. We’re together, we’re all the same. There seems to be no other motivation for him to win today. ”

Showalter’s attention to detail is perfect, and with Billy Eppler, the first year CEO of Met, some of the lineages of that old Yankees are evident. Although Showalter, 66, is 20 years older than Eppler, his baseball foundation came out of the same curriculum in many ways. Gene Michael was general manager and Bill Livesey was the scouting director for Showalter’s Yankees years. Brian Cashman was an assistant general manager. Eppler worked in the Yankees’ search department and eventually became the assistant general manager of Cashman.

That’s why, Eppler said, Showalter’s fixation on the smallest details has been well-known.

“I know, ‘How long does it take for the bus to get to the front? What kind of water is on the plane?'” Eppler said.

Showalter said he knew he would work with Eppler because he is a disciple of Michael and “pick up the phone at the first call type.”

“We share the same passion,” Showalter said.

Part of that passion led him to make a phone call to Showalter one spring afternoon on his way home from the Mets Florida complex. In the parking lot outside a subway sandwich shop, he said he had been sitting in the dark in his car for an hour, using the time zone difference to catch Melvin, who was in Arizona. Three Mets players — Canha, Chris Bassitt pitcher, and Starling Mars Outside — played Melvin in Oakland, and Showalter had questions.

“It was a great time, because I would also call and ask about Manny,” Melvin, 60, said of Manny Machado, who played at the Baltimore Showalter. “It was a long conversation. And I think we’ve talked a couple more times this spring. ‘

Information is key to building relationships. And with the lock-cut spring workout, Showalter and Melvin wanted to get the information out as quickly as possible, and from as many different sources as they could.

“Mark Canha is a left-wing hippie,” Showalter said. “Chris Bassitt is right. Not right, but right. However, they are best friends. It’s a great story. Bob said they sit on the plane and talk politics and stuff. I told Bob that I wanted our country to go that way – you think this, I think this, let’s talk, politely. He paints a picture. You’re trying to get the boys started. ‘

Melvin, Showalter said, “sees players and things very similar to the way I do things.

“We don’t have all the answers,” he said. “We always have to remember the final game. He may not give his best tonight to win the next three games. “

It was a thunderstorm in October last year that the Padres were able to reach the leadership position in Oakland in their managerial victories, and the A’s were the first sign that they were embarking on another rebuilding project. Born in the Melvin Bay Area, a graduate of Cal and no. 6 In Oakland, as a tribute to Sal Bandori. It was more shocking than most people thought to leave. But with coaches Ryan Christenson, Matt Williams and Bryan Price, he’s quickly put himself at ease in San Diego. The only blow in the last month was a six-game missing prostate surgery, but Melvin is back and is healthy now.

“The best thing I’ve had in his communication is to let them know where we are and what our expectations are, to come to us and explain why he has made some of the moves he has made,” Joe said. Musgrove, one of the Padres rotation.

In other words, it’s like Melvin’s old boss once did for him, and he still does it today with his Mets.

“I feel like a real help,” Melvin said of Showalter. “They are well known in baseball, there are friends in baseball. But off the field, he’s the kind of guy we talk to out of season, who we call each other, even when he calls me when he’s doing ESPN stuff. We’ve never been to dinner together, but I take it for granted. In baseball, that’s a far cry from someone you admire on the field. “

There is no difference. Showalter recently reprimanded her little sister Melanie for saying, “The organization and details are great, but you know what, I really like spontaneity from time to time. It’s okay to be spontaneous from time to time.”

Showalter told this story with a curious smile and shrugged his shoulders in a weekend interview at the Dodger Stadium visitor’s director’s office. What are you going to do? A tiger cannot change its stripes.

Melvin, on the other hand, has been able to change his mind. He has long been a fan of hard candy in matches, but only in the first, third, fifth, seventh and ninth innings. And for more than 11 years in Oakland, the ninth candy had to be green.

Now? The ninth entry is nothing more than a barrel of brown Padres root beer.

“And we’ve had two or three walks,” he said. “So it worked.”

The Padres have had four, but like the old Manager of the Year Awards, when the season starts, who counts?

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