March 28, 2011
Over the past week, a baseball world that is largely bored with the final days of spring training took a few comments that Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter made to Men's Journal and turned them into something of a thing.
Of Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, Showalter said he'd "like to see how smart [he] is with the Tampa Bay payroll ... You got Carl Crawford 'cause you paid more than anyone else, and that's what makes you smarter?"
As for New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter(notes), "he's always jumping back from balls just off the plate," Showalter told the magazine. "I know how many calls that team gets — and yes, he [ticks] me off."
Though Showalter backed off the comments a bit late last week by using the old "taken out of context" excuse, the story bubbled through the weekend. Boston manager Terry Francona said he was "aggravated" by Showalter's comments while Jeter tried to laugh it off. "I've never heard anyone make a big deal out of how someone takes his inside pitches," he said to ESPN's Karl Ravech.
But if all's well that ends with a backpedaling phone call, this story should now be considered over. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that Showalter got on the horn with Epstein and apologized for the remark. One has to figure that his mea culpa for Jeter, one of his young charges when he was Yankees skipper, is either forthcoming or has already happened and just hasn't been reported yet.
Though Showalter was a bit off point in his comments about Epstein — the Red Sox's huge coffers don't make him more of a genius, they just give him more leeway to make dumb mistakes — it's a bit disappointing to see him turtle now that someone actually saw the Q&A and reported it. After all, it was the perception that one of the have-nots in the AL East was getting a bit prickly with the division's two ruling empires that made this so much of a delicious story in the first place.
But now that everything is back to the status quo with Showalter kowtowing with the resident powers-that-be in the AL East? Eh, not so much.