When the National League Manager of the Year winner was announced this week, Bud Black and Dave Roberts took in the show together. They reside not far from one another in the San Diego area, which made for a natural get-together.
The two are longtime friends and previously worked together with the San Diego Padres. That came to an end in June 2015, when the Padres fired Black. Roberts, the Padres’ bench coach at the time, served as interim manager for two games.
He then gave way to Pat Murphy, who joined the team from Triple-A El Paso. That offseason, Roberts went on to be named manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Black was a special assistant with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2016, then was hired as the Colorado Rockies manager.
While it made Black and Roberts adversaries during various points of the 2017 regular season, Roberts expressed his gratitude for the guidance Black provided, during an interview on MLB Network:
“He had a huge impact on me. I get asked that question a lot, ‘Who had the most impact on you as a coach?’ It’s Buddy far and away. Just understanding how to relate to players and things that come with managing and talking through pitching with me. As a friend, obviously most important, but a mentor. To have him by my side is a special moment for me. It’s great in the winter, we can be very friendly and do coffee and breakfast, but during the course of a season we go at it 19 times a year.”
At a time Black had the Rockies off to their best start in franchise history and in first place in the NL West standings, Roberts said the communication between the two had curtailed. His team finished 9-10 against Colorado, but claimed a fifth consecutive division title.
Meanwhile, Black guided the Rockies to a 12-win improvement from 2016 and their first trip to the postseason since 2009. That was despite the team incurring injuries to multiple key players and relying on a bevy of rookies in their starting rotation.
Neither Roberts’ nor Black’s accomplishments were enough to be named NL Manager of the Year, which went to Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He took the team from last year’s 69-93 record to 93-69 and a berth in the playoffs for the first time since 2011.