An Open Letter To “Yankee Faithful” – Stand By Your Man!
This article in today’s Daily News really bothered me. The Yankee fans that were interviewed expressed their wish that Joe Torre could manage the ’09 Yankees; they don’t think Joe Girardi is up to the task.
Memo to them: The torch has been passed.
Torre had a great run and I was terribly sad to see him go, as I made clear in The New York Times. But he’s gone. He’s with the Dodgers. Cashman and Company picked Girardi over Mattingly (and Pena), and he’s the one who’s been sitting in the manager’s office for a year now. In other words, it’s time to rally around him.
Did his rookie year go smoothly? No. Were there “issues” right from Day 1? Sure. A few examples:
* Ian Kennedy was supposed to make a start, but it was raining. So Girardi ended up using him in relief. A head-scratcher.
* Girardi seemed to shuffle the lineup almost daily. At first I thought he was being creative. Then I decided he was being disruptive. Players like to show up for a game not having to wonder about their status from day to day. This year he needs to establish a plan and stick to it, barring injuries.
* Speaking of player injuries, Girardi had a very tough time explaining their various ailments to the beat writers, as if he’d be giving away state secrets. His evasiveness came to a head at the end of the season with the mystery surrounding Mo’s shoulder. A testy press conference ensued.
* Cano wasn’t getting it done, and Girardi waited until September to bench him. Hard to fathom.
* Girardi used Wilson Betemit in situations where even I would have been a better option. Seriously. And he had an odd attachment to Kyle Farnsworth, even though the rest of us hid our eyes whenever Farnsy came in to relieve.
* Girardi banned candy and junk food from the clubhouse, and there were rumors that the veteran players thought he was too uptight.
All that said, the man wants to win badly and he’s got a lot of heart.
He’s not cool and collected like Torre. He doesn’t sit on the bench sipping green tea. He doesn’t even sit – he stands constantly, clenching his jaw and looking like he’s living and dying with every pitch. Nothing laid back about this Joe.
Sometimes he loses it completely.
But don’t we want our manager to be passionate? Fiery? A risk-taker?
I laugh at those who say, “Girardi would have to be an idiot not to be able to manage the team the Yankees are handing him.”
Really? If the job were so easy, why did Jim Leyland have such a tough time in Detroit last year? He’s arguably one of the best managers in the game. Certainly one of the most experienced.
With all the talk of Girardi’s “short leash” should the Yankees get off to a slow start, I’m standing by my man. He wasn’t necessarily my pick to replace Torre; I vacillated between him and Mattingly. He doesn’t have a provocative bestseller on the shelves. Nobody calls him the “Sinatra of Baseball.” He doesn’t hang out with Billy Crystal. But he’s my manager, for better or worse, in sickness and in health.
What I’m saying is that I plan on us staying together – for the sake of the kids.
Very nice entry. I think it is good for a manager to be passionate and for his first year he didn’t do terribly except for the not making the playoffs thing. I agree with you baseball fans need to stand behind their managers and their teams.
In New York, if you don’t make the playoffs you get crucified, Melissa! Now that he knows what it’s like to be in the hot seat, I bet he’ll make the necessary adjustments.
No one does a better job of being silent on injuries then the New England Patriots. I can understand Girardi not wanting to say anything. Maybe we New England fans are more accepting of the “no comment”. It is a bit of a game really. And no candy or junk food? He looks like he’s in pretty good shape and maybe he’s just trying to help out some of the other players on the team. Not a bad idea really – though C.C. might have issues with it! 🙂
It’s not that Girardi doesn’t say anything about injuries, Julia. It’s that he puts out wrong information and then tries to cover his tracks. Very frustrating when the player tells the media one thing and the manager another. But he has vowed to be better at this.
I live in South Florida and can attest to Girardi’s strong/silent manner. It can be frustrating at times – we ravenous fans hate to be left out when it comes to our favorite players! That being said – he was absolutely punished by the Marlins FO and I’ve never heard him utter a negative word about them. (I doubt there’s a book in the works for him either).
You’re right, Colleen. He has stayed mum on his dealings with the Marlins FO. Very classy. Where in South Florida do you live? Miami? I used to live in Stuart on the east coast, about an hour north of Palm Beach.
I’m in Jupiter actually – just south of Stuart on the very northern edge of Marlins Territory :o) We’re lucky enough to have the Marlins and Cardinals here in Jupiter for Spring Training (which begins in mere weeks!)!
Way to stick by your manager through the good times and the bad! He’s still learning after all. Maybe he WILL put you in instead of Betiment this year.
I love Girardi and don’t exactly blame him for last year. The “issues” you listed were my only problems with him, and you have to figure he’ll improve this year – another year under his belt, a better team on paper, etc.
I supported signing Girardi over Mattingly last offseason. However, if the Yankees get off to yet another slow start this year, it could very well be time for a change.
Colleen, I lived in Juno too, so we were almost neighbors! I remember when they were building that stadium. Every time I’d be driving on Rt 1 at night, it would be all lit up. How great that the Marlins and Cards will be training there soon. Wish you could join us in Tampa for my book signing, but it’s quite a distance.
LOL, Elizabeth. I think anyone would do a better job than I could.
I’m counting on his improving this year, Andrew. There has to be a learning curve, but he’s a smart guy. He’ll figure it out.
Where did they find the fools quoted in that Daily News article? Giving up on a guy after just one season????? Why didn’t they interview some intelligent baseball fans? Oh, I know why: intelligent baseball fans don’t sell newspapers.
Jane, I’m with you on the last 4 issues you listed (especially banning the junk food!), but the I’m not so sure about the first 2. He used Kennedy in relief because it looked like it was going to rain, and he didn’t want to risk losing Kennedy after only an inning or two if there was a rain delay. I thought it was a good strategy, and Torre actually did the same thing with one of his starters earlier in that week. It only ended up looking strange because it didn’t rain. As for shuffling the lineup, that seemed to work pretty well for Casey Stengel and Billy Martin. My biggest issue with Girardi was that he was supposed to go back to manufacturing runs, which he did on Opening Day but never again. Anyway, injuries hurt him more than anything else – and he can’t be blamed for that.
BTW – I’m about a quarter of the way through the book and loving it.
Much too soon to give up on him, Bern. And speaking of fools quoted in the papers, today’s Post had an article quoting a fan who waited in line at Borders for Torre’s book. Turns out this “fan” is a professional jokester who’s listed in Wikipedia for being quoted in newspaper articles! I think he holds the record or something. He was outed on the Subway Squawkers blog.
On the Kennedy start, pinstripe, I agree that Girardi was trying to save his pitcher in case of a rain delay. I understood the rationale, but it was early in the season, wasn’t it? Nothing crucial on the line if he skipped his start. But maybe I’m wrong. And I’m all for shuffling the lineup and going with the hot bat, not to mention giving guys a rest. But remember that time he left Damon out of the lineup (and forgot to tell him) at a time when Damon’s offense was going great? That said, I do think the injuries were a major factor last year. Let’s hope everybody stays healthy. Glad you’re loving the book so far!
I completely agree with you! sure, he still has a few bugs to work out. But he’s going to do great this year, and then no one will give those issues a second thought.
By the way, I just started reading your book, and I love it! I just got an account on here, and it’s nice to already know who someone is.
It actually had more to do with saving the bullpen than skipping a start. He didn’t want to overextend the bullpen, and if I remember correctly it came during that stretch where the Yankees didn’t have a day off for three weeks. I have no explanation for the Damon thing, and I don’t think Girardi does either. I will definitely be hoping no one gets hurt.
Cool to see lots of MLBlogs posts about it…everyone get your copy if you haven’t already. Out of two Yankee books being mentioned, this is the one I want. That’s what I’m hearing from lots of other people, too.
Welcome aboard, Alex, and here’s to a good time at MLBlogs. I’m excited that you’re reading my book and enjoying it. Makes my day.
I didn’t remember about saving the pen during a tough stretch, pinstripe. If that was the case, I stand corrected!
Mark, you’re embarrassing me. Don’t stop! 🙂
I agree with you, Jane. Girardi has only been the manager of the Yankees for one season, so it’s way too early to determine if he’s any good or not. It seems to me as though the New York media has decided that they don’t like him and this in turn affects the fans’ perception of him. I haven’t seen much of him, but I don’t get the impression that he’s completely incompetent. Had the Yankees won another title this year, I doubt anyone would be calling for his head.
Besides, weren’t the Yankees plagued by injuries and mediocre pitching last year? These aren’t problems Girardi could fix on his own. If people are calling for someone to be fired, doesn’t Brian Cashman deserve some of the blame as well?
The NY media is brutal, Erin. He made a few mistakes in his first year but is hardly incompetent. As you say, injuries plus mediocre pitching will kill even the smartest manager.