Showalter on the team’s struggles & where they go from here
I wrote a midseason piece for Orioles.com that recaps the first half of the year and looks ahead as to what’s to come. You can read that here, and below are some leftovers or interesting quotes from my sitdown with manager Buck Showalter. Some of these were also used in the story that I didn’t want to get lost along the way. Enjoy.
[on if taking this job was harder than he thought]
No, I’m a pretty realistic guy. I’ve been able to keep things, a grip on [things]. No, it’s not harder. It’s not easier. But I came into it with a pretty realistic view of it. You don’t get..I mean, 13 years [of losing], that doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve got some good things going on, that aren’t always really blatantly apparent every day.
I won’t give in. I’m not going to give in. It’s a challenge. You look at it more as an opportunity. I tell guys all the time when you are playing a really good team, like Atlanta or Texas or Boston. You look at it as an opportunity to really compete against some of the best. You compete. It shouldn’t be nearly as complicated as everybody makes it out to be.
Ive always done a thing for years, I line up each team’s roster and I go down the list, ‘Their first baseman against our first baseman, their second baseman against our second baseman, their right fielder against our right fielder…That keeps you a grip on reality. We have some places where I’d take our guys. So, you don’t paint a broad brush that everything is good or everything is bad here. That’s a bad road to go down.”
[on if the first half has changed the timetable this organization had for winning]
“I’m not a big timeframe guy. When I hear somebody say we are on a two, three, five year-old plan, it’s just somebody trying to cover their rear.’ You grind like heck each day and try to get closer to your goal. I understand the job description, I understand what we are trying to do, the task. I don’t find it daunting. I find it challenging. But don’t tell me it can’t be done. Every day that passes, I feel that we are more sure about who is and who isn’t.”
[on the concerns over the young pitching staff]
“That’s why it’s so important to have a big pile. You got to look at the innings. Jake Arrieta hasn’t even thrown 200 innings in the big leagues yet. Keep in mind, they don’t all come at the same time. You don’t throw a blanket over it. Some guys are later, [they] come later. And some guys have to have a little setback to see if they are going to bite back or if they are just going to pull in the dirt around you.
Like I told them, they are presented an opportunity, if they don’t take it and run with it we will keep on sifting.”
[on if .500 is still a feasible goal]
“I don’t put, if we win X number of games, it’s been a success. The true definition of success is if we win the division and get to the playoffs and to be the last man standing. That’s the bottom line of the job description.
And I understand because of the struggles for a long time, I feel like and I hope that we will be better than we were last year. And I feel like and hope that we will be better than we are next year. It’s a constant upgrade, and I hold hope that we get hot and guys get healthy and Brian [Roberts] comes back and [Brian] Matusz comes back and all this. And I can give you 10 other things that happen, and we win the division. I don’t give in. I don’t plan to, I don’t surround myself with people that feel that way.
I try to dwell on the positives. It’s tough, I have some private moments where I close the door and go, ‘Wow. Really?’. But the more I’m here, the more I understand some of the challenges we’ve had.”
[on the playoffs]
I hope and pray our guys get a chance to taste that because once you taste it, you have a little different drive to it. And you got to have enough bullets to do it too.
It’s not fun, it’s not enjoyable to manage or go through a game where you are just trying to get through the game, as far as health-wise. Where you are trying to present enough people in the bullpen to try to win the next game, if you get a chance. It’s not fun.
That’s not [the way to manage] and it happens a lot in the AL. Sometimes you make a mistake because you’ve lost X number of game and your record is whatever it is that everything there is bad. I think that’s a mistake.
And that’s one thing I said when I came in here, the environment and the culture, there’s things you want to hold yourself to and there’s things that I think drastically improved. It may not be apparent on a stats sheet, but there’s some things where I go, ‘OK, yeah, this guy gets it.’ This guy is a keeper, you can see him jumping on a pile in the seventh game of the World Series.”