BOSTON -- Buck Showalter might have a head cold himself, because he’s not thinking straight.
The smart, witty and sometimes sharp-tongued manager of the Orioles on Tuesday took a clear shot at the Red Sox, and it was totally unwarranted.
The Red Sox have talked publicly about illnesses that have struck the team — illnesses that, apparently, Showalter thinks should have been downplayed or hidden. Because, apparently, what the Sox are going through is not notable compared to what others are experiencing.
“I don’t know where we are with the flu today,” Showalter told Orioles reporters before Tuesday’s game, including the Baltimore Sun. “I haven’t gotten updated by [head athletic trainer Richie Bancells]. Everybody in the league has had that issue. I’ve had it and it’s a different strain, I’ll tell you. It lingers for a long time. Some of them seem to be a little more noteworthy, it seems like, but our guys have fought their way through it. I know we’ve got a lot of guys that aren’t 100 percent with it, but so do a lot of clubs. So nobody really wants to hear somebody else complain about it. Our guys have done a good job not broadcasting it to the world.”
It’s not an accident Showalter made that comment at Fenway Park before the start of a two-game series. He offered up that commentary without being prompted by a question from Orioles reporters. Showalter's a calculated man, usually.
The only thing the 60-year-old does on accident is forget to use the best reliever in the majors, Zach Britton, in a win-or-go home playoff game.
(Perhaps Showalter had the flu last October and felt a little dazed, but was too noble to say anything?)
Only one Orioles player has been publicly identified as having the flu, Darren O’Day.
You know why the Sox have identified more? Because they've had to.
This is an apples and oranges discussion.
There's no way the Sox could have possibly hidden their infirmary. Not when Mitch Moreland is leaving spring early; not when Hanley Ramirez can't even make it to Detroit for a four-game road trip; not when the runner-up for American League MVP, Mookie Betts, is MIA from the lineup.
Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has nothing but experience in this game. He can't remember something like this in his 40-plus years in baseball.
The Red Sox have had players quarantined. Quarantined!
Staffers — from head trainer Brad Pearson to play-by-play voice Dave O’Brien — have all been affected in some way or another. Players have vomited during games.
It’s not just the flu the Sox are dealing with, either.
“There’s a stomach flu, there’s a full-blown flu and there’s a respiratory, cold, head, all that stuff,” Farrell said Tuesday when asked to clarify what was going around. “We’ve got a little bit of a MASH unit. But, I mean, the one thing I will say that not anyone has made an excuse. You know, we’ve got to go out and play. No one outside of our walls cares about what we’re going through and we don’t care what others are going through. We’ve got to take care of ourselves and get guys back healthy and we’re getting close to that point.”
Farrell made that comment in his standard 4:20 p.m. pre-game press conference at Fenway Park, which happened before Showalter spoke at Fenway around the time the Orioles stretched an hour later.
It’s almost as though Farrell was trying to head off a possible bad perception. Either word didn’t get back to Showalter, or Showalter didn’t care.
So Showalter wound up taking a really cheap shot, just because the Red Sox didn't have much success this year with the flu shot.