Baseball has always been a “what have you done for me lately” sport.
Lately, Joe Girardi is the most infamous man in the Bronx.
Yankee fans have deemed the Yankee manager as the goat of Game 2 of the ALDS, as he did not challenge what was ruled a hit-by-pitch that replays showed actually was a foul ball. The next batter, Francisco Lindor, hit a grand slam to shorten the Yankees’ lead over the Indians to 8-7. The Indians would eventually win the game 9-8 in 13 innings.
Girardi took full responsibility for Game 2 on Saturday, saying it was a “tough day” for him.
With the Yankees facing elimination last night in Game 3 in their first ALDS at Yankee Stadium since 2012, they were getting the treatment of being individually called out onto the field.
It wasn’t exactly a treatment for Girardi, as he was showered with boos upon being called onto the first-base line in front of the Yankee’s dugout.
While it’s not easy to look at this series thinking it probably should be the Indians facing elimination in Game 4 with Luis Severino on the bump rather than the Yankees, but if this is Girardi’s final game in pinstripes, while he will be notorious for Game 2, he should be remembered for much more than that.
Upon hire in 2008, where the Yankees skipped over fan-favorite Don Mattingly, Girardi was automatically put into arguably the best job in sports, but also the toughest.
The Yankees had made 13 postseasons in a row with Joe Torre at the helm, but they had not won a title since 2000 entering their final year at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees won 89 games that season, but they had missed the postseason for the first time since 1993.
With a rejuvenated pitching staff with the acquisitions of CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, and a bolstered offense by signing Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher, many considered the Yankees the favorites to win the World Series in their first year at the new Yankee Stadium. And they did.
This left Girardi’s expectations high for years to come, and the Yankees could never have that same October magic as they did in 2009.
To make matters worse, Girardi was stuck with losing two legends in Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, as well as the shortstops injury-plagued 2013 season. He also had to deal with the suspension of Alex Rodriguez, contracts that at the time looked very harsh (Sabathia, Teixeira), and overall, bad teams.
According the baseball-reference.com, the top-12 Yankee players of 2013, by WAR, were Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki, Adam Warren, Curtis Granderson, and Jayson Nix.
That list does not include Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay, who played 130 and 142 games, respectively. Chris Stewart, Travis Hafner, and Eduardo Nunez also played more than half of the season.
2014 was the Jeter farewell, and they had already said their goodbyes to Cano. Brian McCann underperformed, as did Jeter, Teixeira, and Carlos Beltran. By the way, Brian Roberts played the majority of the game at second base.
But the 2013 Yankees won 85 games. The 2014 Yankees won 94. Both squads were not officially eliminated until late September.
The Yankees resurged in 2015 – A-Rod hit 33 home runs, Teixeira was the MVP of the team before his injury, but Greg Bird filled in quite nicely. If it weren’t for the Blue Jays big splash at the trade deadline, the Yankees may have won the division that year and could have avoided Dallas Keuchel in the Wild Card Game.
in 2016, A-Rod was a bad baseball player, as was Teixeira. The Yankees were sellers at the deadline. Girardi got a ton of blame for this, but post-deadline, the Yankees were 32-26 after the trade deadline, where they got rid of Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Beltran. in 162 games, that adds up to 89 wins. Fans saw the emergence of Gary Sanchez and saw what Aaron Judge could do.
2017 was a year of low expectations, but simultaneously, not many are surprised at this team. Of course, no one expected Judge to do what he did – the same goes for Didi Gregorius, Luis Severino, Starlin Castro when he was healthy, and several more.
if 2006 didn’t tell you, Girardi’s expertise is young teams. He won the National League Manager of the Year award with a team whose everyday lineup, for the most part, looked like this:
C: Miguel Olivo
1B: Mike Jacobs
2B: Dan Uggla
3B: Miguel Cabrera
SS: Hanley Ramirez
LF: Josh Willingham
CF: Reggie Abercrombie
RF: Jeremy Hermida
P: Dontrelle Willis
Yep, THAT team won 78 games. Why? Because Joe Girardi has always gotten the last bit of juice out of every one of his players. That’s why the 2013, 2014, and 2016 Yankees were still playing meaningful games in late September.
It’s not easy losing two legends to retirement. It’s not easy losing one of the best players in baseball to the Seattle Mariners. It’s not easy managing overall bad teams.
But Girardi has done it. That’s what he should be remembered for, if he is indeed done after this season.
Bill Buckner was a great player who had a bad game, and he is known for that bad game.
Girardi has been a top-five manager of the year candidate seven times in his career, and it will most likely be eight after this season.
Girardi is a great manager who had a bad game. One game should not overtake the other 1,600+ he has managed.
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