Big League Stew - MLB

Everyone loves a little trash talk, right? It adds a little spice to the mix.

Well, apparently, the AL East race wasn't spicy enough for Buck Showalter already. As you might have read via Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, the Baltimore Orioles manager added some flavor by taking shots at Theo Epstein, the Boston Red Sox and the rest of the top dogs in the division during an interview for the April issue of Men's Journal.

"I'd like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay payroll," Showalter told the magazine. "You got Carl Crawford(notes) '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?'"

Just like we don't understand why Jake Gyllenhaal was given the cover over ol' Buck, we don't know the entire context of Showalter's remarks. Was the question he responded to building up Epstein as some kind of genius? The Red Sox GM gets to work with a payroll three times the amount of the Rays', based on current estimates.

But Showalter surely knows that a baseball team isn't made solely on one high-paid superstar or even a handful of them. And it's not like the Orioles didn't try to land one themselves, chasing Victor Martinez(notes), Adam Dunn(notes) and Paul Konerko(notes) before finally getting the less relevant Derrek Lee(notes) and Vladimir Guerrero(notes) to take their money and head to Charm City for the summer.

But perhaps Showalter was really trying to pump his team, and dismiss any ready-made excuses his Orioles might try to make about being unable to compete against the gargantuan budgets of the Red Sox and New York Yankees.

His comments about his former shortstop, Derek Jeter(notes), seem to indicate that kind of thinking (via the St. Petersburg Times' Marc Topkin):

"The first time we went to Yankee Stadium, I screamed at Derek Jeter from the dugout. 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."

Who might have taught Jeter such underhanded tactics? Is it possible that Jeter's manager during his rookie season influenced how he played the game? If so, Buck Showalter has a problem with ... Buck Showalter. But maybe Showalter was implying he didn't coach that stuff, and Jeter learned those tricks from Joe Torre when he took over as Yankees manager in 1996.

Maybe we're all just a bit too eager to add gasoline to the smoldering embers Showalter created with the intention of boosting his team's morale. He also just made an already intriguing AL East race that much more compelling.

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