On Aug. 3, the day Buck Showalter managed his first game with the Baltimore Orioles, the team sat in last place at 32-73, a full 34 games out of first and 22.5 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for fourth in the American League East. There was little hope for the 2010 Orioles to even escape the cellar, let alone make some noise in baseball's most challenging division.
However, the former "Baseball Tonight" analyst led the Orioles to a 34-23 record after taking over, behind only the Twins and Phillies for the best record in the majors during that stretch. The Orioles were firing on all cylinders, hitting better, pitching better and playing better defense.
The remarkable turnaround has carried through the offseason and into the first week of the 2011 regular season. The Orioles won four in a row to kick off the season, including a sweep of the division-rival Rays in St. Petersburg. Has Showalter developed a magical touch that has worked wonders with the young Orioles?