Mazzilli discovers mellower Weaver

Seeing the spot, one thing's immediately apparent: Mazzilli is a great actor, a smooth operator who knows when to thicken the Brooklyn accent and how to spice his speech with hand gestures straight out of Little Italy.

Still, he's no Earl Weaver -- and we mean that in a positive sense.

Weaver is the American League leader in ejections with 91, not to mention four suspensions. But for all the cap-backward, chin-to-chin screaming he did with the umps, it was a picnic compared with the way he relentlessly beat on players.

"Earl was hard on players, hard on his staff," Orioles vice president Flanagan said yesterday, which has to be the greatest understatement of the past two centuries.

A famous quote about Weaver -- among many -- defines a hard-driving, critical leader who poked and provoked his players to perform: "You know Earl. He's not happy unless he's not happy."

If Weaver barked his way through the clubhouse, Mazzilli is 180 degrees the opposite. Hired to be as much a motivator and a communicator as a game tactician, the 48-year-old New Yorker appears to be making it a priority to build relationships that establish him as a solid, compassionate but expectant leader.

Unlike Weaver, it's easy enough to detect soft spots in Mazzilli, who said he's already not looking forward to trimming the roster, making cuts.

"Are you kidding me? You're dealing with players' livelihoods. You're dealing with their families. You have to have compassion for people. At the same time, you have to put the best people on the field. It's not easy, unless you don't care about people," Mazzilli said.

It took Earl Weaver almost eight years after he was inducted into the Hall of Fame to admit his heart ached having to make the tough decisions that go along with being a big league manager. Stepping on toes comes with the territory, just like screaming and yelling at umpires and needling and provoking his players came with Weaver's territory.

Now it's a new era starting for the Orioles, with Weaver happy to let Mazzilli take a crack at it.

"I don't have any contact with the front office. He just came out of nowhere, but I'm very interested. He's very well regimented. He's running some very good drills, working on a good schedule. This brings back some memories," Weaver said.

For all the good memories, you could tell the old manager had a few that weren't so good. It's a great job. Mazzilli, like so many coaches, was aching for his chance. Now comes the test of a lifetime: doing the job, living it.
 

ORIOLES SCOREBOARD


PHOTO GALLERIES

SUN ORIOLES STAFF ON TWITTER

Eduardo A. Encina

Eduardo A. Encina

Orioles beat writer
Peter Schmuck

Peter Schmuck

Sports Columnist
Dan Connolly

Dan Connolly

Orioles and national baseball writer
Dean Jones Jr.

Dean Jones Jr.

Orioles editor

PICTURES: ORIOLES PLAYERS

PICTURES: ALL-TIME ORIOLES