The New York Yankees announced on Thursday they would not be bringing back Joe Girardi, their World Series-winning manager of 10 years.
There were rumblings prior to the divorce that Girardi was on thin ice, with his contract up at the end of the season and many around New York’s organisation unhappy with his relationship with the clubhouse.
It seemed almost bizarre. How could a team as young as the Yankees succeed so feverishly without a good relationship with their skipper?
The ‘Baby Bombers’ won their way into the postseason by defeating the Minnesota Twins at home in the Wild Card Game, then famously topped the Cleveland Indians, maybe the best team in baseball, in the American League Division Series.
The series featured a play in Game 2 in which Lonnie Chisenhall was given first after a close hit-by-pitch, loading the bases. Girardi opted not to review, and it was later revealed he was not hit. The Yanks lost the game in 13 innings, going down 2-0.
The story then goes, after Girardi took heat for his players for losing the match, they rallied for their skip’ to win through to the ALCS 3-2, in one of the more extraordinary series in recent memory.
According to ESPN’s Ian O’Connor, the Bronx Bombers brass didn’t want a bar of the Girardi fairytale, and stood by their convictions, like all good New Yorkers do. Three weeks later, Girardi was gone.
Reportedly, the team is looking both internally (bench coach Rob Thomson, first base coach Tony Pena) and externally. Also high on their list is someone who is well versed in Yankees clubhouse culture, or can foster said culture effectively.
A bold move
Regardless of your opinion on the separation, it is a bold move. At the least, if they’re looking for addiction via subtraction, it is a massive double down on a young and talented team to not suffer through second-year syndrome.
At the center of this focus will be Aaron Judge, the overwhelming favorite for AL Rookie of the Year, who suffered through a notable slump this season.
If they’re looking for an older head with plenty of postseason success to get the team over the hump (John Farrell?), they risk upsetting a locker room culture with one too many egos via a manager who wants to do it his way.
As they say, too many cooks spoils the broth, and not only is the broth in New York a very supple mixture, they’re looking for an extremely manicured and adaptable cook.
Supposedly, the team is looking for a skipper who has an affinity for statistics and sabremetrics (like Girardi did), a willingness to take orders from the top (a Yankees staple), and the aforementioned kinship with the clubhouse.
In short, they’re looking for a very specific person, someone who may not exist. After all, you can’t please all the people all the time, and if they settle for someone who only ticks one or two of those boxes, well, they just let him go.
It is a brave, and most certainly Yankees-esque move. To tinker with chemistry, especially with a team this young, in a city with this kind of de-robing “fishbowl effect”, is stapling one’s proverbials to the wall.
It’s hard to believe New York are searching for only their second skip’ since Joe Torre left town, and their first not named ‘Joe’ since 1995.
Ultimately, Girardi and Torre are heading to, and are already enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame respectively. It’s a hard task to find a leader like that, and even harder in the Big Apple.
For the first time in a decade, the Yankees are offering someone one of the most coveted jobs in world sports, and they’re searching for a special person to do it. Best of luck guys.
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