O's have had success with loud-mouth manager before

March 26, 2011|By Kevin Cowherd

If the last few days are any indication, it sure will be fun to see what comes out of Buck Showalter's mouth this season.

Who knew the Orioles manager was a world-class trash-talker?

Who knew we had a Rex Ryan-clone — well, minus the donut-pounding physique and foot fetish — in our midst?

Maybe you heard Showalter made national headlines the other day for taking a shot at Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees and Theo Epstein of the Boston Red Sox.

In the April issue of Men's Journal, he ripped the Yankees' veteran shortstop for delivering an Oscar-winning performance on inside pitches.

"The first time we went to Yankee Stadium, I screamed at Derek Jeter from the dugout," the magazine reportedly quotes Showalter as saying. "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."

But Showalter was just getting warmed up with his remarks about St. Jeter.

Because in the next breath, he teed off on the notion that Epstein, the Red Sox general manager, was some kind of baseball Einstein for landing superstars Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez in the off-season.

"I'd like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay (Rays) payroll," Showalter is quoted a saying. "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?'"

It was Buck Gone Wild — at least compared to the mealy-mouth mush Orioles managers have dished out for years.

Unfortunately, by the other day, Showalter was downplaying his remarks. He told reporters in Sarasota, Fla., that the interview with the magazine had taken place months ago.

He said he respected both Jeter and Epstein. And he said that while the comments attributed to him were probably accurate, he didn't specifically remember criticizing either man.

Sure, Buck. Whatever you say.

The fact is, Showalter's brash remarks were exactly what the Orioles needed to hear after 13 years of getting their brains beat in.

It was the same gospel the guy has preached since he got here. We're tired of losing. We're tired of getting beat up by the big boys in our division. And we're not afraid of them anymore.

It reminded me of his little speech at the Orioles FanFest in January.

At a fan forum that day, Showalter was asked if he found it discouraging going up against the rich, powerful teams in the AL East. Suddenly, he looked like he needed a roll of Tums.

"I really don't want to hear about the Yankees and Red Sox and what they spent," he growled finally. "We'll worry about us."

So good for him for showing a little swagger in that Men's Journal piece. And good for him for verbally poking the chest of the big, bad Yankees and Red Sox. Even if (wink, wink) he doesn't remember doing it.

It just shows you what a rock star Showalter has become since he took over the O's last year and they finished 34-23. Now the guy pops up everywhere in the media. There's even a big story about him in the current issue of Sports Illustrated.

It's written by the great baseball scribe, Tom Verducci. And it tells us lots of interesting things about Showalter.

We learn he carries a leather-bound notebook in his back pocket that chronicles the 57 games he managed last year.

We learn he's practically a monk in spring training, in bed by nine every night and at work before the crack of dawn.

And we learn that on at least one occasion this spring, he's had to kick the Orioles in the butt — well, metaphorically — for a lack of effort in their workouts.

But maybe what struck me most was the arresting photo of Showalter that accompanied the article. It showed him in a sun-dappled dugout, hands on hips, looking off to his right and glowering at something — or someone.

Check it out for yourself. Then tell me Showalter doesn't bear an eerie resemblance to a certain iconic Orioles manager of the past.

Little banty rooster of a guy with white hair? Wore no. 4? Chain-smoked Raleighs? Liked to get under Jim Palmer's skin? And mix it up with the umpires?

Yep, Earl Weaver was another O's manager who couldn't keep his mouth shut.

As I recall, his teams won a little bit, too.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

(Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.)

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