Recently in a very entertaining interview with Men’s Journal, Buck Showalter made some bold remarks.
“The first time we went to Yankee Stadium, 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.”
From there, the Baltimore skipper shifted gears in candid fashion to the Boston Red Sox.
“I’d like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay [Rays] 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?’”
For what it’s worth, during the latter half of the 2010 season, Showalter certainly managed to overhaul the culture within the Orioles camp. At one point, he even told Brad Bergesen, “Trust your stuff, be the big d*** in the shower — and if you look in the dugout once, you’re coming out.”
After inheriting the then 32-73 O’s, the team proceeded to go on a 34-23 run under Showalter’s guidance. Baltimore’s record during this time was the best in the division and second best in the American League. On a slightly more ignominious note for Baltimore, last season marked the first time since 1900 that a manager assumed control of a team in August or later and was able to earn more wins in the final two months of the season than the team managed to amass in the first four. For 2011, the Orioles acquired some notable names including Vladimir Guerrero, Justin Duchscherer, Kevin Gregg, Derek Lee, and Mark Reynolds. Whether these additions will be enough to make a difference remains to be seen.
“We have a good group that’s meshed very well, which is important. Let’s face it; I know where we sit [in the East]. I just want my players to know it’s not hopeless. That’s the main thing I’m trying to do here. How is it going to pan out? We’ll just have to see.
Terry Francona didn’t respond directly to the comments, but did defend his GM.
“Whatever. For the record, I think Theo’s really smart, whether he has a high payroll or not. … I’ll stay away from that.”
As to be expected, Jeter was mum on the subject.
My guess: The Yanks and Sox won’t give a whole lot any thought to this nor will they spend much time mourning the occasional loss to the O’s. Rather they’ll be saying, “It sure is nice to be in postseason contention” come late August. So while the young Baltimore players may not be curled up in the fetal position, fretting the vast hopelessness of the AL East, surely they’ll still know that 80 wins results in a fifth-place-bowels-of-the-division finish. Only this time, the youngsters will have one seriously angry man glaring in their direction with higher expectations.
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