For Peter Angelos, there could be no bigger coup, no better way to stick it to George Steinbrenner and the hated New York Yankees.
Hire Steinbrenner's manager.
And, for good measure, take his GM, too.
Buck Showalter and Gene Michael have tormented the Orioles for the better part of the '90s.
Angelos should at least get Showalter.
Yes, even over Tony La Russa.
Showalter probably could be hired for $1 million less than La Genius, and the Orioles could sign two middle-inning relievers with the money they save.
Equally important, Showalter would pose less of a threat to the authority of the new GM, whoever he might be.
He'd be Tony Lite.
And every bit as good a manager.
One American League general manager contacted yesterday said both managers are so good, "it's like comparing Griffey to Bonds."
Another said, "There's no difference. It's very subjective, anyway. You'd do well with either one."
So, all things being equal, you take the manager who is less of a load, both financially and internally.
And you consider his GM, if only to agitate Steinbrenner further.
Showalter and Michael. They guided the Yankees to the best record in the AL last season, then a wild-card spot this year. But Steinbrenner being Steinbrenner, they're both in trouble.
Would they work for Angelos?
Are you kidding?
Compared to what they've been through, it would be like a paid vacation.
Like going from heavy metal to easy listening.
Showalter didn't like the way Angelos treated his friend and former minor-league manager, Johnny Oates. But he'd get over it, given the chance to get back at Steinbrenner.
Angelos is no saint, but he doesn't badger his manager with constant phone calls, criticize players in the media or rip umpires in the middle of playoff games.
Then again, Angelos doesn't know from playoff games, which is where Showalter, La Russa or even Davey Johnson come in.
By the way, is Phil Regan fired yet?
Is Roland Hemond?
They're twisting as much as Showalter and Michael.
The back page of yesterday's New York Daily News showed Showalter carrying a box out of his Yankee Stadium office, with the headline, "Going, going . . . "
Oh, Steinbrenner isn't going to fire Showalter -- it would be too much of a public-relations disaster.
More likely, he'll offer him a one-year contract at an insulting salary, rather than the three-year, $2 million extension Showalter deserves.
Showalter will depart, with Steinbrenner lamenting that he wasn't a "true Yankee." It will be an absolute sham, and Steinbrenner's biggest mistake since firing Dick Howser in 1980.
Perhaps even bigger.
Michael? Steinbrenner guaranteed only two years of his five-year contract, and now they're up. Assistant GM Tim McCleary, 31, would work for less money, and become the Yankees' Jim Bowden.
That's what the Boss might be reduced to, copying from Marge Schott. She hired a Boy Wonder GM. She's going to fire a manager who reached the postseason. She's probably Steinbrenner's idol.
Frankly, Randy Smith is a better fit for the Orioles than Michael -- he'd be hungrier, and would establish a clear vision for the organization.
The bigger priority is Showalter.
Showalter over La Russa.
Think about it: Why did the Chicago White Sox retain Terry Bevington when they could have hired La Russa?
It's not that La Russa wanted a $1.5 million salary, plus $250,000 a year for pitching coach Dave Duncan.
The issue reportedly was power.
La Russa demanded significant input on player moves. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf wanted to avoid a power struggle. His rehiring of Bevington amounted to a show of support for GM Ron Scheuler.
Good as La Russa is, it would be dangerous to pay him three times as much as the GM, and even more dangerous to grant him almost total control of the organization.
Players can price themselves out of baseball's depressed market.
Why can't managers?
La Russa had better watch it, or he might fail to land the AL East job he covets. Indeed, Showalter could wind up with the Orioles and Johnson with the Yankees, when it was supposed to be the other way around.
For Angelos, the choice is simple.
Stick it to the Yankees.
Make Steinbrenner nuts.