As if Buck Showalter hasn’t already done enough to get Orioles fans energized and excited for the new season, now there is this:
Although, the headline on ESPN.com may be a bit misleading. Showalter didn’t exactly “rip” Derek Jeter.
“The first time we went to Yankee Stadium, I screamed at Derek Jeter from the dugout. 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,” Showalter is quoted as saying in an article in Men’s Journal.
If you watch Jeter just about any night, he jumps around all over that batter’s box in an attempt to get close ball and strike calls from the plate umpire. Yes, he does seem to get a few calls. Yes, it can be annoying when an O’s pitcher misses an inch or two off the outside corner and Jeter leans across the plate as if to say he couldn’t have reached that pitch with a 60-inch bat.
Showalter’s comments are consistent with his stance since he took over as O’s skipper. The days of acting like those teams are unbeatable are over. You can’t beat them if you don’t even think you can. It’s about an attitude he has tried to preach in that clubhouse and the message may be getting through.
Showalter also made some comments about Boston GM Theo Epstein.
“I’d like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay payroll. 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?’ “
I think Showalter makes a great point. People in baseball have great respect for Epstein and Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman, but how smart do you need to be to buy the best players every year? I’ve said a few times before, I’m not sure how good Cashman is since if he makes a mistake, he can just throw more money at the next guy.
The bigger picture for the Orioles is that Showalter is trying to get past this concept that the O’s need a miracle to compete and win in this division. His message to the players seems to be ‘hey, you can beat those guys, go do it.’
I felt the club made a great move last year when they called up Jake Arrieta and he made his major league debut against the Yankees. There is no need to call these young pitchers up and feel they need to face a team like Kansas City first to ease into things.
Showalter seems to be saying ‘you want to show your stuff. Here’s the ball, go beat the Yankees.’ In this division, there is no getting around that. You might as well embrace the enormous challenge head-on.
By the way, Arrieta got the victory on that June 10 game when he allowed just four hits along with three runs over six innings in beating New York.
After Buck took over, the Orioles went 14-13 against the AL East and they won five of their last nine series against division foes in 2010. Before Buck got the job, the O’s were 10-35 against the East, winning just one of 15 series.
If teams like the Yankees and Red Sox once had any intimidation factor in their matchup against the Orioles, perhaps those days are now over.