The Buck Starts Here
New Orioles manager Buck Showalter isn’t one for long-winded speeches and said he has learned from previous mistakes in trying to write or rehearse what he will tell his team prior to Tuesday’s inaugural game at the helm.
“It’s about actions,” Showalter said during Monday introductory press conference to introduce the organization’s 17th full-time manager. “Not lip service.”
Still, the 54-year-old Showalter had no shortage of words in his first encounter with the Baltimore media, speaking for approximately 40 minutes about his reputation as a micromanager, the decision to wear the late Johnny Oates’ No. 26, and how he will define success in taking over a 32-73 Oriole squad in the season’s finale two months. Here are the highlights from his Q&A…
On the challenge of restoring the Orioles to power in the American League East…
“I think all competitive people like the idea of something people saying it can’t be done, or ‘Are you kidding me?’,” Showalter said. “And I don’t say that out of lack of a respect for anybody that’s been here before…I think I’ve done my homework, I love the town, the tradition, the people the feeling. Everybody talks about the Cardinals in the National league in St. Louis, and the fans and there’s just a certain karma and feeling to the culture there. And I feel the same way about Baltimore.
On changing the mindset in the clubhouse…
“What we do from a competitive standout, [I] just want to be consistent with it and understand that we are trying to reach the same goal. And if someone doesn’t share those goals I’m sure they will be comfortable playing somewhere else.”
On bringing teams like the Yankees and Dbacks a year away from the World Series…
“It’s kind of like raising your daughter and then letting somebody else
walk her down the aisle. Hopefully, you get to walk her down the aisle
“I think the flexibility here is very attractive. In Texas, we had a lot
of commitments to people who probably were not going to be a pile
jumper, so to speak, somebody you’ll see after Game 7 jumping on the
pile on the ground. That’s what it boils down to. You’re looking for 25 nuggets … . When you get 25 nuggets, you get to play in October. It’s as simple as that. It’s not near as complicated as everyone makes it out to be. … It’s got to be a product of everybody.”
On his focus for the Orioles the next two months…
“I think put ourselves in a position to make really good evaluations, for one thing. And to win as many baseball games we can within the context of doing what is best for the long term success of the Baltimore Orioles.
“Obviously you want to win baseball games. I’m not going to apologize for that. But you don’t want to get in the way of your long term success too. I understand some of the weaknesses I’ve seen and you want to identify why. The ’27 Yankees botched a run down, it happens but you want to identify why and not repeat it…I’m looking forward to these two months. I think it’s just a continuation of what we are going to do in the offseason.”
On his reputation as a micromanager
“I try to be true to my own skin, and it depends on who you talk to. Every situation calls for a different approach and I truly believe that. You do what you are asked to do and the one thing I’ve told [president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail] is, I’ve only asked one thing, ‘if something’s going on that you aren’t happy with, you got to tell me.’ At least promise me that.
“But I am who I am. I understand. I’m not real sure what it is. I don’t spend a whole lot of time analyzing. I know what’s worked for the organization and the team I’ve worked for and it’s been written enough both ways. It’s kind of like the person you pick to deliver the eulogy at your funeral. There’s only one or two people who really, really know you. So I’ve come to grips with it, I live with it. And I try to do what’s best every day and move on.”
On selecting Oates’ number to wear…
“The first thing that came to mind was John. And he meant a lot to me in my life, the impact he had,” said Showalter, who called Oates’ family first to ask permission.
“It’s been five and a half years since John passed away, and not many days go by that I don’t think about how lucky I was to have him pass my way. He was pretty special.”
(As a side note, Oates will be inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame on Saturday with a special pregame ceremony at Camden Yards.)
On restoring the Oriole way and reconnecting with former parts of the organization…
“If you can’t embrace the past, how are you going to go to the future? It’s a little bit about both, but you don’t become a prisoner to it. You take the good and bad, you try to melt it together. I hope everybody wants us to be successful. And we are going to need everybody’s support along the way, physically, mentally and emotionally.”
“I’m going to need and warrant and solicit help from people who have been here before and walked this walk,” Showalter said. “I don’t think there is a prouder organization in baseball … I really, sincerely believe that can happen again, but it’s really about the product on the field.”
On having the ability to acquire a difference-making player when the time is needed….
“Have you seen the movie Braveheart? Remember when Mel Gibson’s up on
the hill and he’s got all the spears back there and they’re outnumbered
like 5-to-1, and they’re charging up the hill and he’s screaming at
these guys, ‘Hold, hold, hold.’ And they’re looking at him like, ‘You’ve
got to be kidding me.’ Then at some point, he goes, ‘Now.”…That’s kind of the way it is [in signing that kind of player.].
I’d like for it to happen tomorrow or yesterday. I think
when that time is now, I feel real confident that Mr. Angelos and the
fans that support everything that helps us support the team will be
there for us. When that is, that’s going to be up to Andy, and at some
point I may go, ‘Now.’ I hope that happens. But it’s not always a
financial thing that does it. Now it’s about everybody pulling the same
direction starting this day forward.
Mel Gibson. Probably not a good
name to bring up right now. Who else starred in that?”