Thursday, March 24, 2011

Showalter goes after Jeter? That's just Buck being Buck

In my years on this planet, I've concluded there's only thing I'm absolutely certain about, and I know it beyond a shadow of a doubt: When a person is described as someone who “will give you the shirt of his back,” this always means said person is terrible.

Example: "Tommy's got a really tough exterior, but he's got the biggest heart. He'll give you the shirt off his back if it's the last one he has."

Translation: "Tommy drinks a lot of Coors Light and starts many fights."

The “Shirt Off His Back” phenomena is an off-shoot of the “That’s Just (Name) Being (Name)” corollary.

Adam Corolla once mused that this is typically the route a person takes to explain the repeated polarizing behavior of a friend.

Man 1: "I'm going to kill Tommy, he tried to hook up with Emily at my wedding last night."

Man 2: "You know how it is, bro. That's just Tommy being Tommy."

Which brings us to Buck Showalter.

It was reported on Wednesday that the Orioles manager took shots at both Derek Jeter and Theo Epstein, ostensibly to remind America that Baltimore didn't shutter its baseball franchise after Cal Ripken retired.

"The first time we went to Yankee Stadium, I screamed at Derek Jeter from the dugout," Showalter told Men's Journal, which was probably interviewing Buck as their 14th choice for another story about abs. "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 pisses me off."

Showalter also played the payroll card with Boston, saying people wouldn't think Theo Epstein was such a boy genius if he didn't have $200 million to play with. (As an aside, I'm sure Brian Cashman was giddy to finally see Epstein receive the same criticism he's been getting for 13 years.)

As for Showalter's comments about the Yankee captain, it was simply a case of "Buck being Buck."

There's a reason it took Showalter almost four years to get another manager job after the Rangers canned him, and it's the same reason every job he's had in the game ends with him being pushed out the door.

Buck Showalter is a very good manager...but he's also a pain in the ass.

This is the same guy who, while managing the Yankees, would watch video tapes to see how his players reacted to the success of teammates. He was always the last man off the team bus, partly to ensure no one was talking about him and partly so he could look struggling players in the eye to see how they handled adversity.

After he took over operations of the expansion Diamondbacks, he installed a yard-wide corridor of dirt that ran from the mound to home plate. He did so to gain a competitive advantage, and it is cited as one of the reasons Mariano Rivera made his crucial throwing error in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. "Fucking Buck's strip of dirt," former Padres GM Kevin Towers told Buster Olney in "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty."

While it's possible that Men's Journal was fortunate enough to catch the manager in a glib moment, it's more likely that the meticulous Showalter was using the platform to send a message about his own team standing up to the big brothers in the division.

I'm not exactly sure how this all translates when Jon Lester is facing Jake Arrieta in front of 11,000 fans at Camden Yards, but I suppose it couldn't hurt.

When you've been as bad as the Orioles have been for the past 15 years, you need someone to step up and try to change the culture. Showalter succeeded in doing that 20 years ago after taking over for the slovenly Stump Merrill in the Bronx.

You have to admire the guy for at least attempting to take a stand, and I'm sure Jeter chuckled when he read about it. After all, it's just Buck being Buck.

Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

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