You know spring training has gone on too long when one of the week’s lead baseball stories is about two comments made by Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter to Men’s Journal magazine months ago that just appeared in print in the April edition.
If it wasn’t Showalter, with the Yankees and Red Sox as the featured pieces of the story, no one would have heard a thing, but this is the age of pump-the-names that have recognition even if the substance of the matter is minimal.
Showalter told the magazine regarding Yankee Derek Jeter, “The first time we (the Orioles) went to Yankee Stadium (with Showalter as manager last fall), I screamed at Derek Jeter from the dugout. Our guys are thinking, ‘Wow, he’s screaming at Derek Jeter.’ Well, he’s always jumping back from balls just off the plate. I know how many calls that team gets — and yes, he [ticks] me off.”
On the Red Sox, Showalter said, “I’d like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay payroll. You got Carl Crawford ’cause you paid more than anyone else, and that’s what makes you smarter? That’s why I like whipping their butt. It’s great knowing those guys with the $205 million payroll are saying, ‘How the hell are they beating us?’”
This Thursday Showalter met with writers before a spring game and downplayed the comments. “Maybe it’s envy or something on my part. But obviously you all know what I think of Derek and the success the Red Sox have had. Hopefully, we (the Orioles) can get to their level one day.”
If there is anything of note in all of this, it’s about the philosophy of managing used by Showalter.
As a sportscaster for the Orioles’ MASN-TV, I’ve noticed that Showalter does not make comments, but for some rare human occasions, unthinkingly or without a purpose.
He took over as manager of the Orioles last August. Baltimore has been in the throes of a struggle to compete for more than a decade.
Showalter does not accept excuses. There may be reasons for this and that and he will deal with them. Excuses? Forget about it.
One of the repeated axioms used to plead the Orioles’ losing seasons has been “we play in the AL East.”
To Showalter, that is not a reason for losing, that is an excuse.
He wants to debunk in his players’ minds the idea that they cannot compete against the AL East clubs, especially the Red Sox and the Yankees.
He is not blind to what money can buy and that the Sox and Yankees have far more of the dollars to spread around than do the O’s.
Still, you better take the field with a white-hot confidence against any opponent if you intend to play for Showalter.
The comments he made regarding the Sox and Yankees weren’t for the Sox and Yankees, they were for the Oriole players. He wants them to inherit his fire.
Sunday, the Sox and Orioles will play an exhibition game in Florida, so this story will have legs for one more weekend. Nationally, the story will then disappear.
Showalter could care less about that. He only wants the story to be remembered by the players he sends out on the field.