Orioles manager Buck Showalter doesn’t do well with goodbyes, and it showed again today following a 7-6 victory over the Red Sox at sold-out Camden Yards that officially closed the 2013 season.
His eyes were moist as he talked about his team and the fan support, and he closed his media session by joking about how he wanted to avoid a Jerry Maguire/Roy Firestone moment. No more questions, please.
“You’ve heard me talk about it a lot,” he said. “We’re sitting here with just such great support today. They were talking earlier about how many people are lined up. We get down 5-0, it eats at the players and us and Chris (Davis) and everybody. To be able to come back and repay the type of support we get... whether it’s 84, 85 (wins). Looked like it was going to take 91-ish.
“This isn’t a club that went into the season trying to be the wild card. We were trying to win the division. And we competed well with the team that’s probably the best in the American League, record-wise.”
Davis left the game with a sprained left wrist. X-rays were negative and no further tests are scheduled.
“Obviously, if the next week or two passes and he’s still got problems, we’ll go into more detail with it,” Showalter said.
“We dodged a bullet there, hopefully. So many things like that. To have this many guys stay healthy enough to play as many games as they have. A lot of people in the league are capable of doing it and would do it if given an opportunity. They just can’t stay on the field. So when you look at Chris and Adam (Jones) and Matt (Wieters) and J.J. (Hardy) and Manny (Machado) and Nicky (Markakis) and Nate (McLouth) if we let him, if anything, that’s a club identity and everybody would like to have it if they could just stay on the field, so it’s a real testament to their off-the-field habits, their offseason habits. And because it’s not done much tells you how hard it is to do and how rare it is to have the people who can do it.”
Davis took a couple of throws before leaving the game.
“When he was squeezing the ball, he was getting a pretty good bite and it was point tender,” Showalter said. “Initially, we talked about getting through the inning, going and picking up and a bat and seeing how it felt and whether it quieted down, but he was having trouble squeezing the glove, and that is a prerequisite of playing first base.”
Here’s more from Showalter:
On Chris Tillman:
“Like a lot of really good pitchers, you better get him early and they did a little bit. But it’s another testament to him. I don’t think he was carrying his usual crispness. And he has a catcher who hasn’t caught him a lot, so there could be some challenges. But I liked the way he came back and battled his way through five. I was hoping to let him start the sixth and face a hitter and go out and get him so he could get the recognition that he deserves, but once the decision was out of there, I wanted Mac (T.J. McFarland) to start fresh. I feel a little remorse about not figuring out a way to do that. I was actually going to try to take J.J. out and some guys during the inning, but the desire to win took over.”
On whether the injuries make him glad the season is over:
“No, no. We would have figured out a way for Manny to be ready for the playoffs maybe and Chris would have been a two- or three-day injury. I’d love to have the four days to get those people healthy like Boston will. Manny and Chris, makes you wonder... That’s why the what-ifs are so important for us, to think that next year we’re going to be able to get this many games played from people would be a little unrealistic, but we’ll approach it that way. These guys, I just talked to them in there and I want them to get as far away as they can. Some of the greatest emotions kind of show themselves with a nod of the head or catching each other’s eyes. I’m not real good this time of the year because you go through so much together, stuff.”
On the defense:
“From the day that we got here, that’s something that we wanted to get better at. I remember the other day thinking the first night I was sitting in the dugout here, looking around, knowing it was something we needed to get better at. And they were trying to. It’s just we didn’t have the personnel. It just tells you we’ve got to really try to get better as a pitching staff if we have that good a defense. Kept us in a lot of games, won us the game today.”
On Jim Johnson’s 50th save:
“It’s one of those things, you won’t really truly appreciate it until it’s not there. I can’t make people realize how hard it is to do what these guys do in the ninth inning. It takes a special set of you-know-whats, and Jimmy’s never wavered in his belief in his team and... We’d all love it to be aesthetically, just go out there, throw nine pitches, strike everybody out, let’s go in, the game’s over after the eighth inning. There’s really only one guy (Mariano Rivera) you can say that about, and he’s retiring. He’s probably the best that ever was. It’s hard to do, and when you find one that can do it, you better realize what you’ve got. They don’t come along too often.”
On the amount of fight in both teams:
“I really think there’s a lot of similarities between the two teams as far as the personnel and the makeup. They have a lot of healthy respect for each other. Both spit in each other’s eye to win a game. I think you see two competitive teams that don’t like losing to each other, is what you see. As much as there’s talking today about last game, whatever, and that’s OK. Those emotions are normal. You do this seven days a week. From February to October basically, you’re going to have those... there is a little looking forward to waking up in a day and having some time to do what you want to do, so to speak. It’s important for these guys to get away, but once that song’s played there’s a different thing that kicks in. That’s what separates them from a lot of other people and also from other teams. I’m real proud of them. That never wavered.”
On the fans:
“We don’t take it for granted. And what happens is, my dad never was a great patter-on-the-backer or whatever. It was just expected. But every once in a while he’d say, ‘I’m proud of you,’ and them showing up today, that’s their way of saying they’re still proud of the team and the competitiveness they’ve had.It’s frustrating for our fans not to get where we wanted to get, but I think a lot of it, they want it for the right reasons, because they knew that our club effort-wise and sincerity-wise was worthy of it. And that’s what frustrating. It’s not always fair.”
Cue the near Jerry Maguire moment and the end of Showalter’s final postgame media session, and the 2013 season.