There are rumblings around the sports talk airwaves. Some say the Orioles' general manager hiring process should account for not just qualifications and vision, but how a candidate's personality meshes with a strong-willed Buck Showalter.
It seems like an appropriate consideration when picking a front office executive. After all, the two parties have to work together to run the club. Nothing paralyzes on-field production like a front office/manager power struggle.
The topic alone misrepresents Showalter. When discussed, there's usually an insinuation that Showalter's strong personality could be a deterrent for some GM candidates.
Strong-willed should never be confused with difficult. If anything, it's a character trait you want in a manager. I doubt any GM ever wrote "weak-willed" down as a desirable qualification for a skipper.
Like many good managers, Showalter is expected to have some influence in front office dealings. He might say he won't, but the reality is Buck is a resource. The man knows baseball and more importantly, he can read and evaluate baseball talent. To ignore his opinion and experiences would be a mistake by any GM.
If a candidate shies away from working with a manger like Showalter, than ego is obviously an issue. A smart executive welcomes input and information from qualified sources.
In the hiring process, I doubt Peter Angelos is accounting for how a certain candidate will either tiptoe around or stand up to Showalter. The new GM's ability to turn around a losing ball club through pro personnel transactions, scouting and an overhaul of the minor league system should be the sticking points.
As a leader, Showalter's strength is that his ability to think independently and not get personal. He's very businesslike, almost in a matter-of-fact way. He has his beliefs and ways to go about business and he sticks to them. It's understandable how some might interpret his decisiveness as stubbornness. The reality is; the two-time American League Manager of the Year knows what he's doing. He should be confident in his plan.
When Buck was hired midway through the 2010 season, I got a call from a fellow reporter who used to cover the skipper in his days with the Rangers. It was a "good luck covering him" type of call. My preconceived notion was that Showalter was at best surly, and at worst a total - well, you choose the expletive.
I was dead wrong. Showalter spent several months evaluating his environment. During that time, I never saw him accept someone else's opinion as his own. People respect him for that. especially the players.
I've been around the Orioles for seven years and have covered four different managers as a reporter. I have to be honest: This is the first time I feel the right person is holding the reigns. I hope whoever aspires to be the Orioles next GM shares that opinion.