The Early Favorites in '07


I can't tell you who's going to win this year's World Series. But next season, Texas Rangers fans should feel good about their chances, despite this year's pedestrian 80-82 record. You see, the Rangers just fired manager Buck Showalter. And when Buck leaves, he's often replaced by wild success.

+Buck was succeeded by Joe Torre as manager of the Yankees in 1996. Unimpressed with the choice, the New York Post ran the headline "Clueless Joe." To spite the Post, Torre and the Yanks went on to win the 1996 World Series, their first since 1978, and three more in the next four seasons.

+Showalter went on to manage the Arizona Diamondbacks from 1998-2000, turning a 65 win team his first season into a 100-game winner in 1999. The D-Backs slipped to 85-77 in 2000, and the Buck stopped there. First-year manager Bob Brenly took the 2001 Diamondbacks to the World Series, where they beat the Yankees in seven games.

+From 2001 to 2003, Showalter was a popular studio analyst for ESPN's Baseball Tonight. He left in 2003 to manage the Texas Rangers. Baseball Tonight won a Sports Emmy that year.

+At The Borgata in Atlantic City in 2005, Showalter walked away from a slot machine he'd been working for a good half-hour. I stepped in just as he left, pulled the lever and won $10,000. OK, this one didn't happen. But you get the point. Keep your heads up, Rangers fans.