CHICAGO -- Buck Showalter has seen the managing side of baseball change over the past 20 years to the point where big market clubs like the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs have hired new dug-out bosses with little or no experience.
“It’s still the same game between the lines,” the Orioles manager said before his team took on the White Sox on Wednesday night. “As a manager it is still about us as managers adjusting to the players. It might not have been that way in the 1950s or 60s but that’s the game from a coaching standpoint. With the Internet and instant reporting, a manager has to be aware of the reflection that your words carry to the media and the players.”
Showalter likes the hires of the Cubs’ Dale Sveum and the White Sox’s Robin Ventura as managers.
“I think both guys are going to be really good,” Showalter said. “Their backgrounds are good. Both have excellent baseball intellect. Managers come in all shapes and sizes. There is no blueprint for the job. Their biggest challenge will be to try and be themselves and try to be consistent. They will see what a difference it is from coaching and what a huge difference it is from playing.
“The biggest problem coaches and managers have is they forget how hard the game is to play and how bad they were on a given night. Both of these guys will have a handle on these issues.“
Showalter has some interesting insight into what fellow managers Ozzie Guillen, who was suspended five games for praising Fidel Castro and Bobby Valentine, who questioned Kevin Youkilis' mental approach to the game, have gone through in the last 10 days.
“So many people weigh in on things they really don’t know about,” Showalter said. “I know Bobby, and I think I have a feel for Ozzie. In these cases how many guys are there that you will really let your guard down to and would let see what you’re all about? In other words how many (outsiders) would you want to deliver the eulogy at your funeral in our world? The sports world we live in makes us very cautious about dropping your guard. You just keep in mind the weight your words carry and the reflection they have on who you work for, your organization, and maybe most importantly the fans themselves.”
Dynamic personalities such as Showalter, Guillen and Valentine can be a little tricky to manage in this instant information age.
“There are certain things guys who have been in the game for 20 or 30 years bring,” Showalter said. “It’s not the X’s and O’s. Let’s face it, that part isn’t really brain surgery, but it is the relationships and the atmosphere that is set in the clubhouse. We know that atmosphere is a lot better when you’re winning baseball games. The perspective has to be how lucky you are to be doing this thing and for the first time in your life you see the finish line (not managing )and that this is not a normal thing to do to your body for eight months . It’s a challenge, but it can be very rewarding.”