MASN broadcaster Rick Dempsey, who came up empty this week in his fourth attempt to become the Orioles' manager, said he is "very, very disappointed" he didn't get the job but is supportive of the decision to bring in Buck Showalter.
"I'm very, very disappointed, to tell you the truth," said Dempsey, the longtime Orioles coach and player who was the 1983 World Series Most Valuable Player. "I don't begrudge Buck getting the opportunity. He is going to be a hell of a manager. He has been a hell of a manager. But I will always feel I know more about this ballclub than anybody else."
Dempsey was one of four candidates -- along with Showalter, Bobby Valentine and Eric Wedge -- to interview for the post that eventually went to Showalter. Of the four, Dempsey is the only one without big league managerial experience, which Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said was a prerequisite for the club's next skipper.
Dempsey, however, was the only one with Orioles ties who was interviewed. He maintained that, given his knowledge of the club and success as a minor league manager, he should have gotten a chance to lead the team by now.
"I think it is probably the biggest mistake made here in a long time, and I'm not talking just today, I mean over the years," Dempsey said. "Not being given an opportunity to manage this ballclub. Every organization in baseball would like to have someone who has won, who has played in the World Series for the organization, who has learned to manage from A ball up and come back here. I think with the relationship I have had with the fans and this city, I should have been a slam-dunk years ago. Someone dropped the ball a long time ago."
Dempsey said he is nonetheless supportive of Showalter, who has managed 11 seasons in the big leagues and twice been named American League Manager of the Year. He said he feels much better about this choice than the other three times he has lost out -- to Mike Hargrove, Lee Mazzilli and Sam Perlozzo.
"The fact that Buck got the job is a good thing," Dempsey said. "Of all of the managers I have gone up against in the interviewing process, he is probably the highest qualified of all of them. No doubt in my mind he can turn this around, but he still doesn't know what I know about this ballclub. But I am at least happy to lose out to someone so qualified for the job."
Dempsey said he attended Showalter's introductory news conference Monday, both as part of his job as a MASN broadcaster and as a proud ex-Oriole. Showalter made a point of recognizing Dempsey in the audience.
"I wanted to get a feel of him and his approach, and also it's a part of my job to know what they are saying, how they are going to approach the ballclub and get an overall feel for things," Dempsey said. "This is my family, too, and it is important to know what goes on."
Dempsey wouldn't rule out a chance to coach the Orioles again, perhaps under Showalter in the right situation, but he assumes his chances of managing them are officially over.
"Well, it's not the first time I have gone 0-for-4," he joked.
Before the clubhouse opened to media Tuesday, Showalter and MacPhail held a closed-door meeting with the Orioles' players for about 20 minutes.
Showalter said he didn't talk too long or get too complicated. There will be plenty of time for that later, he said.
"I tried to keep in mind that, what, this is the third time [this season] they have kind of been through this," Showalter said. "I am real sensitive to that."
He met individually with his coaching staff but said he would meet with each player as he became more settled in. During batting practice, he walked in the outfield, chatting with several players and talking for several minutes with right fielder Nick Markakis and second baseman Brian Roberts.
"He came in, told us how it is going to be, and we are all ready to get it started," said Markakis, who has had four managers in his five seasons with the team. "Everyone is different in their own way, but the biggest thing is we have a manager we know is going to be here. That's one thing we eliminated. We don't have to worry about that now."
Orioles open 2011 in Tampa
According to the tentative 2011 Major League Baseball schedule, the Orioles will play their season opener for a second straight year against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. The game will be played April 1.
After a three-game series against the Rays, the Orioles will return to Baltimore and play their home opener on the afternoon of April 4 against the Detroit Tigers.
Assuming the schedule holds, it will be the third time in the past four years and the fourth time in the past six that the Rays will be the Orioles' Opening Day opponent.