We’ll start by saying this may all be contrived. But the response from Orioles manager Buck Showalter was pretty interesting. And it is about the New York Yankees and Showalter, and that’s always good theater. (Remember, these are the two teams that never seem to exchange pitching probables with each other until right before a series starts.)
So we’ll share this little nugget of a very-mini-controversy.
On Tuesday, the Orioles took outdoor batting practice like they normally do before games, and then the Yankees were supposed to take their turn on the field. But, instead, the Orioles’ grounds crew, led by head groundskeeper Nicole McFadyen, put the tarp on the field. And so the Yankees, who have now lost six straight and are reeling offensively, couldn’t take batting practice.
There was a report, Showalter said, that rain was going to hit at 5 p.m. And so, says Showalter, his team actually was on and off the field earlier than usual, to allow the Yankees to get their cuts in. But that window closed before the opposition could hit.
Well, you see there was no rain after that point. And Yankees manager Joe Girardi said during his pre-game meeting, “They hit and they’re covering the field,” according to the New York Post, which ran a piece on nypost.com under the headline, “Girardi sounds angry after Buck Showalter’s BP tarp stunt.”
Showalter, of course, was asked about it during his pre-game conference Wednesday. He, of course, denied any such gamesmanship.
“I think from what I understand, what they’ve told me that Joe just said, ‘Hmmm, they are putting the tarp on after they just got through hitting,’ and that was the extent of it and somebody ran with it,” said Showalter, who managed the Yankees from 1992 to 1995. “So I understand how this goes. Do you think we get up in the morning trying to figure out a way to keep them from hitting BP? Maybe we’ll go inside tomorrow and they can hit outside, I don’t know.”
When Showalter continued, he sounded a little perturbed himself, because he had to defend McFadyen, the stadium’s head groundskeeper since November 2006.
“I do know that Nicole was upset about it, which bothered me cuz it insulted her integrity and she’s the best in the business, I think. So she’s not real happy about it,” Showalter said. “This is serious when you insult her integrity, that bothers a lot of people here. She’s really good.”
Showalter continually discusses the difficulty of predicting the Baltimore weather, especially in April and May. That, he said, was the culprit Tuesday – not some nefarious plan by him to get an advantage over the Yankees.
“I think if you have experience being next to the Chesapeake Bay and the weather says its gonna storm in two minutes …,” Showalter said. “If you know Nicole, if someone came up to her and instructed her how to do a tarp-something, we know where she would tell us (to go). We’ve all had that told to us.”
He said he hasn’t been contacted by Girardi or anyone from the Yankees about the tarp decision.
“I haven’t heard anything else,” he said. “God bless them.”