If you happen to be in the market for an absurdly huge set of cojones this Easter season, look no further than Camden Yards and the dugout of the Baltimore Orioles.
There you’ll find a grizzled baseball manager with a John Wayne swagger and the heart of a rabid wolverine. Right there next to the Gatorade cooler, Buck Showalter lurks in the shadows with only his signature blood-red eyes and frothing fangs visible.
Without warning or any kind of common reasoning, Old Buck used the lazy, beer-drinking, sunbathing days the players like to call Spring Training as a platform to rip into his divisional opponents. Showalter called out Jeter and the rest of the Yanks for always having borderline pitches go in their favor because they are good actors. He also targeted Red Sox saint Theo Epstein, making the claim that anyone could do the Vice President/GM’s job if they had the Red Sox payroll to work with (try telling that to Brian Cashman).
Sure, some of the things Showalter said were pointless and occasionally downright stupid, but the point is he wasn’t afraid to say them. He might be right about the Yankees getting calls, but isn’t that the umpires fault for falling victim to their cheap parlor tricks? The comments about Theo were just plain foolish. Epstein has made some mistakes but if he was never a part of the Red Sox, everyone in New England might still be talking about the curse, and if Theo was part of the Orioles organization, Buck would have a much more competitive team than he does now. No, it’s not about the content of his statements, but the way he delivered those words. He seemed to yell everything with such off-the-cuff, in-your-face realism, that it made even non-fans of the Orioles want to stand up and join his crusade.
A few similarities come to mind when comparing Buck Showalter and his antics to another manager in the AL East.
This is not to say the end result will resemble anything like Tampa Bay’s march to the World Series, but Buck seems to be mirroring a similar approach Joe Maddon and his team took back in 2008 when they brawled with both the Yankees and Red Sox in the same season. The message from Maddon’s team at the time was clear. They weren’t their older brothers’ punching bag any longer and it was finally time for payback.
We’ve all seen the Australian fat kid video by now. It was a similar situation in the AL East prior to 2008. This year, Buck has decided to take a page out of Maddon’s playbook and now it’s finally his chance to play the role of the chubby nerd who overcomes adversity.
No one should boo this man for his brash comments. He’s sick of the way the Orioles have been a laughing stock in their own division, and whether he can do anything about it is not really a concern. All Buck is doing is trying to motivate his young players, and if his comments have a positive effect on his team in any way, he’s done more for the organization before the regular season starts than any Orioles manager has done in the last twenty years.
In closing, the burning question apparently still lingers. What’s the next stop on Buck Showalter’s national interview tour? Pierce Morgan Live? The O’Reilly Factor? Howard Stern? Anything but George Lopez. That show is the worst…