With Buster Olney taking vacation this week -- or at least as much of a vacation you can take as a baseball writer in the summer -- the Orioles center fielder was his fill-in today on ESPN's popular "Buster Olney Blog." (You need an Insider account for full access.)
Jones' headline was "When Baseball Changed in Baltimore," which he explains was Aug. 3, 2010, the day Buck Showalter was hired as manager. Jones goes on to write 791 words about Showalter's impact on the team and its clubhouse chemistry.
Here's a snippet:
We had heard so many different things [when Showalter was hired]. There was “He is very detail-oriented" or "He’s a tireless worker.” And we quickly learned that all of it was very true. The players I talked to ultimately described his demands in a way that I think fits perfectly into the type of player that I am: You have one job to do; come and do your job. And since the day he arrived, I think everybody in this entire organization, top to bottom, has taken a different approach when it comes to baseball.
Showalter gets the biggest ovation, hands-down, when his name is introduced before the game, because he’s brought back the never-say-die attitude, the resilience, and a winning mentality back to Baltimore. Now our fans are getting to see a resurgence and a different attitude and style of baseball than many of them did watching the Orioles growing up. I remember myself as a kid watching the Orioles on TV and, even as they struggled, thinking it would be cool to play in that city. Doing it while winning makes a big difference.
It's nothing that Jones and his teammates haven't said before in praising Showalter in various interviews. But it's interesting to see Jones' choice of topic and read his work beyond the 140-character snippets that he shares with his 133,000-plus Twitter followers.
Remind me to call these guys the next time I take a week off.