Buck Showalter's first three weeks in Baltimore have been a whirlwind as the Orioles' new manager has begun the arduous task of trying to help turn around an organization that is closing in on a 13th straight losing season. The 54-year-old, who is managing his fourth big league club, sat down with The Baltimore Sun last week to discuss his first few weeks on the job, his respect for the Orioles' tradition and the challenge that lies ahead.
Question: It has been written that some members of your inner circle told you to stay away from the Orioles' managerial job. Why did they say that and why didn't you listen?
Answer: [It was] not in those terms. You talk to a lot of guys, and it wasn't that they called me or I asked them for their opinion. It just kind of came up in passing, but I know what it looks [like] to those on the outside looking in. I also know what it feels like coming in here in the other dugout back when it was and what it could be again. I also kind of like somebody telling me that something can't be done. I got that it's a challenge and there's been good people in here before me. I got it. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel in here or anything.
Q: From what you've seen, how confident are you that there is a good base of young talent here that you can win with and build something with in the future?
A: I'm not going to give a lot of lip service here. I'm excited about some things. Everybody has got some good young players that you project as being able to do it, OK. But at some point, I hope the opportunities that we've been able to give out this year aren't always there. We're always going to look from within before we start coveting somebody else, but the greatest thing an organization can do is evaluate your own and make sure it's not sitting in your backyard. You have to try to create a culture where everybody putting on an Orioles uniform, whether it's a veteran or young player, is surrounded by an atmosphere where they can do what they can do.
I'm not going to sit here and convince you one way or the other. I have feelings about certain things, but I want to get a real fresh perspective. My challenge is not to try to move too fast. Slow down, and everything that you have knowledge of, make sure that it's right. I haven't had an open-and-closed moment, where I've shut the door and said: "That's definitely what's going on. That's definitely my evaluation." I have a really open mind about it. Those innings, those outs, those situations, they're very precious. And looking back on it, I'm real glad that [president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail] explained the virtues of me coming in for two months rather than waiting. This should help us in the offseason, but I don't want them to think I'm walking around evaluating everything because I'm not. There are a lot of keepers here, that's for sure.
Q: The night before your introductory news conference, you called Earl Weaver. Why did you do that and what did you take from that conversation?
A: He was great. It was for the same reason I called Gloria [Oates]. I have a strong respect for the past, but you don't confuse change with a lack of respect for tradition. … What Earl accomplished and the things that they did, they had good players. But when people talk about the Oriole way, I got it. I just had such respect for what he did and the longevity. I'm 54 years old, and I have been doing this for a long time. I wouldn't say the word is patience, but I don't have a lot of tolerance for stuff that really doesn't matter. I'll be blunt to a fault sometimes. The whole, "You won two out of three, you have to be happy even though you lost tonight?" No. That ain't the job description. I got the job description. Just like in New York, you never heard me complain about [Yankees owner] Mr. Steinbrenner. I know the job description. It's not going to catch you by surprise. We are going to have some moments here where you are going to be challenged. You win a game and you get maybe 50 seconds on the bench and as you are walking up that runway, you're saying: "All right, how do we keep this going? How do we do it again tomorrow?" It's the same way with a loss. It's a mentality, and you have to understand the big picture and the long haul. I didn't ask one time [in the job interview], "What's the payroll?" They asked more questions than I did. There were some questions I asked just to verify what I thought. I didn't come here and say, "This is definitely the case." I came in here with an open mind, and there have been some things that have verified my thoughts and there have been some things I've seen that I didn't know, and not necessarily bad either.
Q: What have been your early thoughts about Baltimore the city, and Orioles fans?