Where have you gone, Joe Girardi?

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The mystery of why the Yankees’ manager was unceremoniously canned after a strong season


  • Joe Girardi during Yankees at Orioles game on September 5. Photo: Keith Allilson, via flickr

Maybe it’s time for Paul Simon, fifty years later, to write a new verse: Where have you gone, Joe Girardi?

Girardi managed the New York Yankees, the lifeblood of this city’s sports scene — oh, shut UP! It is — since 2008. Yes, sadly, I applied the past tense because Girardi is history in this town. I’m not happy about it, and I’m trying to make sense of it. Granted, it’s not like someone has left the Cabinet. But I’ve been rooting for the Yankees since the dark days of Horace Clarke and Jerry Kenney. I want them to win.

The Yankees, specifically the excellent general manager Brian Cashman, unceremoniously canned Girardi last week.

Why? Nobody, least of all Girardi, knows the truth. You hear loose talk. Girardi was too intense. Girardi was too lackadaisical during game two of the Cleveland series, when he inexplicably failed to challenge an obvious call with the umpires and ended up costing the Yankees. Girardi didn’t communicate well enough with the young stars on the roster — even though they all had spectacular 2017 seasons. Girardi and Cashman clashed on various unidentified team matters. Hmmm. Maybe now we’re getting somewhere. Perhaps Cashman, a good man as well as a first-class baseball GM, let his ego get in the way. Who really knows?

It seems that Girardi was blindsided by the move, even though he had been saying guarded things during the playoffs about the prospects of his re-signing with the Yankees after his four-year, $16 million contract (a bargain!) expired at the end of the Yankees’ season. Girardi had not said: Hell yes, I want to return! I can’t wait to nurture Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Luis Severino!

Will Girardi’s successor do better? Will he take the team longer into serious October (and November) baseball, as WFAN’s Steve Somers likes to put it. Girardi’s 2017 team won 98 games, in total, and came one game shy of making it to the World Series. Not many fans would have suspected that was going to happen back in spring training. But relatively unproven young players blossomed, all at once, and the team came alive late in the summer. It defeated Minnesota, upset Cleveland snd pressed Houston.

There is no guarantee that all of the phenoms will improve on 2017. Chris Moore, WFAN’s best and most analytical broadcaster praised Cashman for having “the courage of your convictions.” But he cautioned: “If everyone get into a sophomore slump, they’ll have a hard time. There are lot more questions around this team than people realize.”

As fans, all we can do is root, root, root for the home team. We can’t really understand what’s going on in the front office or whether the general manager, who controls the baseball aspects of the team, is getting along well with the manager on the field. It doesn’t seem far-fetched that Cashman and Girardi weren’t the same page during the past season.

Still, the Yankees overachieved and it seems that the best is yet to come. That means Girardi did a terrific job. Doesn’t it?

Now, we’ll see how his successor fares. The Yankees seem to have a lot to look forward to.

If they don’t win, it’s a shame. But it won’t be Joe Girardi’s problem any more.

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