I don't miss Orioles games. Like ever. My routine of rushing home from work, plopping onto couch and cementing my tuchus to the comfort of Twitter and baseball is a personal pastime my mother never understood.
So, the other night with a few coworkers, I took a rare day off to watch the United States Men's National Team spread the gospel of freedom and liberty upon Costa Rica.
The night was splendid, as Clint Dempsey's early penalty score followed an American offensive attack that was non-existent the Friday before against Colombia. And yet, I found myself checking Twitter, checking the O's score, which only propelled the evening into further euphoria after seeing an early 5-1 lead.
Then the fight happened.
Ventura hits Machado and we have a brawl. Punches thrown. Machado went after him hard #orioles— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) June 8, 2016
My lust for rare baseball violence was suddenly urging for further details of gore. Trailing through Twitter, while the United States continued to sprinkle Costa Rica with red, white and blue fairy dust, it was apparent the dust-up consisted of two consistencies.
1. Manny kicked Yordano's ass.
2. Yordano had it coming.
Both of which aren't a stretch. Manny is 6'3, close to 200 pounds whereas Ventura, a chihuahua with an impressive Napoleon complex, is the size of most 9th grade boys just after their growth spurt. True to his breed, all he has is a bark, because he's too small and too soft to muster a bite.
After the ejections and one-sided dong parade, it was obvious this was going to be a Buck Showalter press conference of a different sort. If you're unfamiliar with the tactics of a Showalter presser, he usually follows a theme of passive-aggressive playfulness, subtle wit and moments of heavy nose-breathing.
Sometimes he answers in length, sometimes his answers are choppy, but in general, he doesn't reveal too much too often. As expected, the Orioles manager ripped up his usual script.
Visually pissed with thunderous reverberations from his schnoz, there was no mincing from Showalter. His first six words revealed as much.
"I'm not happy about it all."
Marching on, Showalter mentioned Ventura's premeditated sadism, how his taste for pain doesn't seem to be subject to action, and how Ubaldo's outing was just OK. You would think discussing a Jimenez start that didn't end in spontaneous combustion should have tempered the mood, but it really didn't.
I haven't followed the nightly Showalter presser as closely as I should, but the repetition of "our guys" themed the five-plus minutes of exchange. The #ILikeOurGuys brand marketing of years past was lightly mixed in between Showalter's comments on Tuesday night, and you know, it's a phrasing that's been somewhat lost in translation.
"I don't like when any of our guys are put in harm's way."
"Very proud of how our guys handled adversity. I think sometimes you show certain things even more when you have things not going your way. Our guys have been real good at that."
To the uninitiated, he appears as a scrooge, latching onto an era that doesn't fit into today's view of the world and apparatus of sport. The Ken Griffey Jr. backwards hat thing still lingers for those hoping to find any reason to label him curmudgeonly.
To his credit, Showalter has adapted to the wayward stylings of millennials and those on the fringe of the label. He's a player's manager, though his natural gruff will never do him any favors. Still, Showalter is a teddy bear as much as he isn't given credit for it.
A Mississippi State grad and thoroughbred bulldog, Showalter's ultimate trait as a commander of respect was what made him the perfect human being to recharge the Orioles into an annual American League contender. That same general-esque attitude is what made him perfect to handle a moment of justified rage.
Look at Jonathan Schoop. Manny's better-half and significant other just saw his BFF take a 99 MPH fastball to the back. He wants to scrap. Chris Davis is somewhere on the bottom of the pile hunting for blood. Mark Trumbo, whose been an Oriole for six months eventually got physical with two or three Royals. Even Darren O'Day, who went on the disabled list just four days before, grabs Jarrod Dyson.
What does Showalter do? In some metaphysical way, he parts the Orioles' sea with synchronization, while Ned Yost just kind of piggybacks third base coach Bobby Dickerson. You see a lot of brouhahas escalate by way of straggling tough guys just looking for a rowdy good time, but Showalter at the epicenter of the muck, discontinues the action.
Showalter often talks about the pointlessness of retaliation, because the Orioles don't cause problems, and lately the O's have been on the receiving end of bush league antics. Was Manny's reaction to being tagged a little bit extra by Josh Donaldson unwarranted? Yes.
Was his attempt to hit Fernando Abad with his bat a sound strategy? Quite not. But the O's took some cheap shots in 2015, and there was never an escalation. Then there was Showalter's resounding, simple and quick response to being asked whether he was disappointed in Machado for charging the mound.
No, there was no succeeding retaliation that night, though the Orioles did proceed to kill three more baseballs into the bleachers before the night was over. Showalter's belief in taking the high road was also evident in last night's win.
The Orioles didn't need to flex their muscles or light up the radar gun into the back of royalty, because the O's don't magnetize such nonsense. Instead they relied on a +12 run differential the past two games to trump a lineup glued together by quad-A replacements. As James Cromwell once said, "That'll do pig...that'll do."
Showalter did mention the incumbent feelings of his team towards the Royals, especially in regards to being swept by the hottest team in baseball in October of 2014.
When you go through the disappointment, the heartbreak we had in '14 in Kansas City, you can't sit there and take it."
As potently quotable as ever, Showalter stated the obvious.
"Well, I think Manny and the team decided not to take it tonight."
I cannot convey with one word or a thousand words how much I love that line. It reports to me that the Orioles aren't pushovers, but you know, a Showalter-led locker room understands when the fight is over.
In Buck's now six years with the O's, the times of glory far outweigh the decade before him, and in all likelihood, this momentary passing of machismo will be nothing more than a "Oh remember when..." sort of thing. But with all the previous instances of unnecessary chest-out baseball fights, the Orioles did what they had to at the onset and had the fortitude to move past it, while also maintaining their winning ways.
That seems like Buck Showalter in a nutshell.