NEW YORK - Orioles manager Buck Showalter walked into the interview room one last time in the 2012 postseason. Here’s the transcript:
Q. Buck, can you go for a little bit about the (Nate) McLouth call and what the umpires told you on that.
SHOWALTER: “They didn’t tell me, you know, they said it was foul. And I appreciate them checking. And there is something in place to double-check. I couldn’t tell. I knew it was real close and obviously during the regular season or in the playoffs we would have had it checked. The tough thing was, you know, you always get one replay. I always try to find one guy that gives me a pretty straight answer about balls and strikes and outs, and obviously they probably got a lot better replays than we do. And we have a good system in place to keep those things from affecting the game. Someone said it nicked the pole, but that didn’t beat us. And I appreciate them using the system in place to get it right, but that’s what all the umpires did. And I tell you, this crew did a great job. Really balls and strikes I thought were fair to both sides. Home and away, regardless of the bubble gum card. I think we really appreciate that.”
Q. Buck, what do you feel about what your guys accomplished this year?
SHOWALTER: “Well, it’s always real tough to talk to them after the season is over, because there is always another game, and it is not goodbye to this group, it is, ‘See ya later.’ They have a very wellâ€‘deserved rest. And I am not going to go into what was said to them, but I am sure they now think it’s a little tougher on me than them. But they are special group. You know, you don’t know how many times you are going to pass this way, and, you know, they got a grip on ... like a lot of young people, they know they are not bulletproof and we talked way back in spring training in our first meeting, and they bought into each other. And they were good teammates and people that our city and organization can be proud of. And we’ll see them again.
“It’s been about as much fun as I have had in the big leagues watching how they play the game every day, the standard they held themselves to and the way they raised the bar in Baltimore with each other. It was about them. They cared about pleasing their teammates and playing to a certain standard. And I congratulate the Yankees. They are a great team, and I wish them well in the next round. And that was a challenge competing against them. We just couldn’t quite get over the hump. (CC) Sabathia was great today. And I thought (Jason Hammel) ... you see things like (Derek) Jeter’s foot, (Mark) Teixeira’s leg, Hammel’s leg. Three weeks ago, we didn’t know if he would pitch next spring. To the trainers, the jobs they do and the players obviously worked. And our trainers, the job they did to get Hammel out there and give us a chance to win both times against the Yankees was a very talented group.”
Q. As even as this was, is it accurate to say that Sabathia is really the biggest difference here?
SHOWALTER: “We could have won the other three games. He didn’t pitch all five, but it certainly felt like it, didn’t it? Nah, we shouldn’t feel like he is picking on us. He’s a great pitcher. And we had very few opportunities against him. We had a shot there in the eighth, and he took it to another level, if there is such a thing. We knew he is going to be a challenge coming in, but we were willing to roll the dice on a couple of bounces here or there. And it could have gone our way. But he didn’t give us much breathing room at all. We only had one hit going into the seventh or eighth, something like that.”
Q. Joe (Girardi) pulled CC with one out left in the first game, and he let him go in a title game. To us it is wonderful, we like to see guys get to the end and see him face. But what is it like to you?
SHOWALTER: “I don’t know, he has so many, so many bullets and weapons to pick from. They’re constant. A guy with 44 home runs hitting seventh and eighth. It’s just, you know, (Rafael) Soriano had a great year. He was a ‘what if’ for Mariano (Rivera), and it came to pass. And they have very good ... any way he goes, you can’t really make a bad call there.”
Q. I am talking about letting CC go nine innings and his first start he went 8 2/3 frames. And it is a special game.
SHOWALTER: “Where we are in the order, too, you have got to ask Joe. He has a lot more knowledge of it than us. But it’s not to say that someone else they brought out of the bullpen couldn’t have gotten three outs, too. But it is remarkable, understanding we saw, I think, all you have to do is look at Oakland last night and what happened there with (Justin) Verlander and those type of guys. That’s why they’re so - there is really only about six or seven true number one starters in baseball. And we throw that around very easily. And he certainly is one of those guys that can dominate and make a difference in just a pure W or L. And that’s why guys like him are in such demand. I am sure they are very proud of him.”
Q. Two nights ago, we saw Jeter hobbling all over the place. Last night they didn’t play him in the field. The charge play he has to make in the eighth inning, is that as big of a play and as tough a play given he is playing on a bad foot? And what does it say about Jeter?
SHOWALTER: “I understand that. Nothing needs to be said about his toughness and what have you. If I went down the list of things that our guys are playing with that nobody wants to talk about ... or not don’t want to, but don’t know about, but Derek is the same way. Because he has to limp with it, that’s why it is noticeable. I am sure he had issues where his arm didn’t feel good or got hit with a pitch. I am saying in response that so many things these guys go through, all through the game. J.J. Hardy played 150â€‘something games and Adam Jones hadn’t had a day off all year. And that’s what is so remarkable. And guys like Derek and guys like Hammel and Teixeira fight through things that are public.
“And then I can’t tell you how many times I had two lineups made out this year, and I apologize to our guys being so late with them, not knowing if a guy was going to be able to play. And I think that’s the difference in our sport. You play seven days a week for six, seven months, and you see guys, that tells you how much, what it is for guys like him and some other people that we have on our team, too. You know, as good as he is and they are, they don’t have a corner on the tough players that make the big plays in tough times. The Orioles did, too.”
Q. Obviously, Jones and Wieters meant so much to this team this year. How difficult was it for you to see them not be at their best at the plate?
SHOWALTER: “The most deserving don’t always win, and the most deserving ... we all know that Matt and Jonesy, we would be spectating from a long way away starting probably around sometime in August if it wasn’t for the type of plays they made. The reason we went five games is the fingers that Matt put behind the plate. A big hit in the eighth inning. Neither one of these guys wallow around in self pity. They get frustrated for the right reasons, because they want to contribute. I have to take you, I haven’t thought about it twice. I don’t get frustrated with them, I get frustrated for them because we know how good they are. And we’re very, very lucky in Baltimore to have those two young men. Not only on the field but off.”
THE MODERATOR: Buck, thank you for everything.
SHOWALTER: “OK. Thank you for all the kind things you said about the Orioles this year.”