BLOG: O’s Flat, Buck’s Burden

O’s manager Buck Showalter has used a phrase multiple times this season:  “We’re not going to wallow in self-pity.”   He didn’t use those words Sunday but the sentiment applied after suffering a home sweep at the hands of the visiting Tampa Bay Rays that included the continued slumping of the Orioles batters and inability of a starting pitcher to deliver a quality outing.

That’s 4 losses in a row- the O’s have lost 6 of their last 8 games. So what’s a manager to do?  Showalter said after Sunday’s loss that he’s going to let them do what they’ve been doing- “keep grinding,” as he said it.  No doubt, there must be more to managing than just allowing your players to “keep grinding,” and Showalter assured me there is.

I asked him during his post game media session if there is something he might be compelled to say in this situation.  Showalter responded, “You’re assuming I haven’t said something already.  There are things we say and do that we just don’t broadcast to everybody.”

Buck asked me what I was doing Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., an invitation to hear what may be a team meeting (I didn’t take his invitation as a sincere one).   His point is, words have been spoken behind closed doors and it makes you wonder how much of it has been reassuring (“keep grinding, you’ll get it going”) and how much of it may be more along the lines of threatening (“we can’t keep you in the lineup if you don’t start living up to your ability soon”).   Problem with that latter statement is that it applies to almost the entire O’s lineup:   Brian Roberts (.221 batting average), Nick Markakis (.227), Derrick Lee (.233), Adam Jones (.250), Matt Wieters (.232) and Mark Reynolds (.187).

Just 33 games into the season and half of it has been played under duress: an 8-game losing streak and then  a span of 6 losses in 8 games.  I’ve always said baseball is a players’ game, and the effect of the manager is often overstated.  But it’s during tough times like these that a manager of Showalter’s experience can help calm the storm, help calm the nerves and maybe help get his guys playing up to their ability.  There are no magic words or phrases- it comes down to the players.  And there’s no time to wallow in self-pity.

posted by Mark Viviano

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