Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette talked briefly with the media Sunday night in a conference call from Florida after the Orioles' charter plane – which had to make an emergency stop in Jacksonville because of smoke in the kitchen area – landed. Showalter talked about that experience, and both men spoke about the Orioles clinching a playoff berth for the first time in 15 years. The team learned of the Los Angeles Angels' loss while in the air.
Showalter on the plane mishap:
“I didn’t get my coffee so I am a little ornery. You all know how I am when I don’t get a cup of coffee. They were getting ready to heat up coffee, that’s what happened. So it’s my fault.”
Showalter on whether he was nervous when the plane had to land prematurely:
“We were in good hands. It was a precautionary thing just to be on the safe side. We had a little something heat up on the plane that the professionals didn’t like what was going on. So just check it out, be on the safe side. We stopped in Jacksonville, got it checked out. Fixed whatever the problem was, got right back on the plane and took off. Gave everybody a chance to get off the plane and watch some of the Eagles game. So it worked out good.”
Showalter’s thoughts on making the playoffs:
“It’s a step. It’s comforting to know that we are going to be involved in it and it’s something we are very proud of. … But it’s a step and it started a long time ago. So you get a return for the work these guys have put into it. … You’d like to somehow figure out a way to play games at our park in front of our fans. We’ve put ourselves in a position to compete for a divisional title and that’s been in our sites for a while. Being able to get into the playoffs is a by-product of our playing good baseball. We’ll see where the next three games take us, but I’m real proud of everybody. It was a good reaction like I expected on the plane, everybody will get some sleep tonight and get ready to take on that tough pitching staff that Tampa has.”
Showalter on the reaction on the plane when the Angels lost:
“Everybody responded as you could imagine. It was very professional. It was more of a look into somebody’s eye, it’s a firm handshake, it’s a knowing look. … It’s great. We’re proud, but we’ve got the opportunities to do things to put us in a better position."
Showalter on what Sunday was like:
“It’s been a long day. I started early this morning but it really hasn’t been an emotional rollercoaster for us that people may perceive it. We just control what we can control. That’s play a good baseball game, win, hold your serve.”
Showalter on the club’s perspective now:
“I think everybody knows where the finish is and we’re not there. They are very mature. And you don’t do what these guys have done without emotion involved, but they’ve always been following in the right direction against the opposition and the talent ahead of us each night and each day. We have a really tough challenge ahead of us here in Tampa. And when that smoke clears, we’ll see what’s left for us and know we’re going to be playing more than 162 games.”
Showalter on whether he’s had a chance to soak in the playoff spot and appreciate the moment personally:
“Not yet, not really. It’s one of those things that I think everybody steps back and reflects on when it is all over. There’s too much work to be done, too many things to be prepared for. … We know a lot of people are depending on us to take it down this road. You grind like heck from really the last day of the season last year and you focus on this year, 2012, and from the first day of spring training, to have a chance to roll the dice in October. And that’s what it is. You want to have a chance to roll those dice.
Showalter on whether a low-key celebration was fitting for this team:
“It depends on how you define low-key. If you got inside somebody’s heart, you might not define it that way. … It’s their accomplishment, the team’s accomplishment, the players’ accomplishment. We are all very proud of them. I know I am personally for them letting me come along for the ride. But don’t underestimate the emotion involved in this team ... Anything you see from them is going to be sincere.”
Duquette on his overall reaction to the playoff berth:
“I’m happy for the players and for the fans. We were in the hunt in September when the kids went back to school and now we’re going to play some meaningful games in October. Hats off to Buck and the players. They know that we have more work to do and they’re going to do everything they can to not only have a playoff game in Baltimore for the fans but … to realize the goals and dreams of the organization. I think that people believe in the team, fans believe in the team and they’ve seen a lot of the investment the owner has made in the team bear fruit. And I’m just happy we’ve made the first step.”