On the occasion of Buck Showalter’s Orioles defeating the Yankees, 4-3, on Sunday afternoon, MSBC’s Keith Olbermann recalls a 1993 incident in which Showalter — employed as the Yankee skipper at the time — made it perfectly clear the former SportsCenter anchor wasn’t welcome in his clubhouse. From Olbermann’s Baseball Nerd :
There was second-year boss Buck Showalter, affable and cordial and welcoming. After a few pleasantries he began his soliloquy: “I asked you in here, because when I saw you on the field before the game I was frankly worried for your safety. Some of them truly do not like your style on SportsCenter and I thought someone was going to take a swing at you. These guys claim to ignore the media but every day our newspaper recycling bin is full. Actually, the players refused to come into the clubhouse until you leave. Me, I don’t care, I have a tough skin, you’re a bright fella and you know your baseball and you make me laugh. But I thought (Wade) Boggs or especially (Paul) O’Neill might take a swing at you.” Having startled me with this announcement, Showalter asked a question. “Far be it for me to tell you how to do your job, but how much of that job is dependent on access to the players?” I told him that conveniently the answer was none. He was silent for awhile. I told him it was all academic because I would be leaving SportsCenter soon to join our new ESPN2 product. Showalter smiled. “Well, we have a flight to catch but it’s been a pleasure. Sorry I had to be the bearer of such bad tidings about how the players feel about you but I really thought you needed to know.”
I left the Stadium quickly, wondering not just about the oversensitivity of the Yankees, but more importantly why they would be worried more about me than about getting shut out by Chris Flipping Haney.
The punch line to this previously unreported exchange is that a couple of years after the fact, Olbermann claims O’Neil denied expressing hostility towards the journalist, and claimed Showalter had crammed every uniformed Yankee into the trainer’s room rather than allow Keef to chat with them. It sounds like a fairly transparent ploy, matched only by the New York Mets tanking the month of the September in successive seasons (’07 and ’08) rather than contend with the slight chance of Wally Matthews popping in postgame.