The Baltimore Orioles finished last in the division for the third straight year, part of a 13-year streak without a winning season. But that didn’t stop manager Buck Showalter from running his mouth about his AL East opponents.
The regular season starts in a week, and Showalter wasted no time in stirring the AL East pot.
First, the manager ripped Derek Jeter:
“The first time we went to Yankee Stadium, I screamed at Derek Jeter from the dugout,” Showalter said in Men’s Journal, according to the Bergen Record. “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 managed the Yankees from 1992-1995. He helped develop the farm system for several years, and then the Yankees won the World Series in his first year away from the team, which also happened to be Jeter’s rookie season.
The manager could be bitter about his past with the Yankees. He could be annoyed that the Sox and Yanks continue to dominate the division with their mighty payrolls.
But he has a proven track record in rebuilding teams, so it’s no surprise he’s confident (if not cocky). Already he’s got the Orioles headed in the right direction. After starting the season 22-73, the O’s hired Buckwalter and finished the season with a 34-23 record.
So, we have to assume there’s a method to his madness—Baltimore could probably use the extra motivation from their smack-talking manager.
In the Men’s Journal article, Showalter also made it clear he doesn’t think too much of Theo Epstein, the highly-regarded Boston Red Sox GM.
“I’d like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tamba Bay [Rays] payroll,” Showalter told Men’s Journal, according to the Record. “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?'”
The O’s did have some success against the Red Sox and Yankees under their new manager. And they made some big additions to the team this offseason, with Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds joining a team filled with young talent and pitching prospects. SI’s Joe Sheehan predicted Baltimore to have a winning record for the first time since 1997.
It looks like Orioles fans might finally have something to look forward to.