Criticism of Girardi Is Ridiculous

Leslie MonteiroSenior Analyst IJuly 8, 2009

When reading message boards and listening to sports radio, players are glorified to the point of idolatry whenever their team wins, especially in the playoffs.

Rarely does a manager or a head coach receive credit for winning unless he or she is coaching college or high school, and even then, the parents will whine if their child doesn't get playing time.

The only time fans mention anything about the manager or a coach is when their team is losing. Listening to WFAN and reading NYYFans.com, people just moan about Joe Girardi not only when the Yankees lose, but when the team wins, which is almost everyday.

It's annoying, quite frankly. The Yankees are one of the best teams, if not the best team in baseball, yet the pinstripe zealots have nothing better to do than moan about the job Girardi has done all year. Then again, it shouldn't be surprising because these same geniuses did the same thing in Joe Torre's final years.

Apparently, Yankees fans never got over seeing their team cough up a 3-1 series lead against the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS, so they wanted Torre to pay for what happened. They were going to get on Torre unless they got what they wanted, which is him being fired or forced out. 

They wanted a manager that was going to be a good tactician, not to mention using young players. They got that guy in Girardi, yet fans are still complaining.

What exactly is the problem with Girardi, Yankees fans?

Does he micromanage? Sure. Does he come off abrasive? Absolutely. Does he act like he knows more baseball than anyone including the great Tony La Russa? Of course.

So what? It shouldn't even matter. The Yankees win series after series 95 percent of the time, so Girardi must be doing something right.

A mark of a great manager is getting the most out of his roster, managing his pitchers, having guys play for him, and making sure the young players develop into productive players on the team. Girardi aces the test by doing all four of those things.

If a Yankees fan look at their team's roster, can anyone question which player has underachieved all season? It's hard to come up with one, and it's a credit to Girardi for putting a player in a position to succeed.

Go ahead and talk about how great the Yankees' hitting is, but the Yankees strength is their pitching, and their starters and their relievers have been efficient all season, and that's where Girardi's strength comes to play. Girardi knows when to take starters out, and he knows how to put his relievers in the right situation, which is something the critics complained about with Torre in his final years.

The Yankees relievers don't look intimidating at first glance, but the bottom line is they have been efficient all year, and there is no way anyone would doubt them come October. They finally have a setup guy to Mariano Rivera in Phil Hughes, and Phil Coke is good enough for the seventh inning.

Ever notice Torre was scared to even try out a rookie or a journeyman in relief? At least Girardi trots them out there, and his patience has been rewarded with guys getting the experience to pitch and being successful in the process.

There has been some talk in the NY media about guys not being happy with Girardi last year, but those guys were used to being patted on the back by Torre. They never experienced an intense manager in Girardi, so it was something they have to adapt to.

Now, there are guys that may still not like it, but is it necessary for guys to love their manager for them to win? Absolutely not. All a manager needs to do is be respected, and by all accounts, the players play for him.

Mark Teixeira spoke out few months ago about Girardi being the best manager he ever played for, so that should count for something when looking at the great managers he played for in his career.

Also, Girardi has something Torre didn't have in the end—trust. It's no secret Alex Rodriguez never cared for Torre after Torre inexplicably batted him eighth in a wreak of panic in an elimination game of the 2006 ALDS, and Rodriguez needed a manager that would support him in good and bad times, and he has found that in Girardi.

Rodriguez has a fragile ego, so Girardi has to make sure Rodriguez is playing with confidence even when things go bad for him. He needs to make sure he doesn't lose Rodriguez at any point of the season.

Girardi was lauded for his work with the young players in his first and last season with the Marlins, which is what made him appealing for Brian Cashman. Girardi has lived up to what Cashman wanted out of him by developing guys like Coke, Hughes, Francisco Cervelli, Alfredo Aceves and Brett Gardner to name a few.

The critics will talk about Girardi making mistakes with his decision making. Guess what? Most managers or head coaches do that often. Some times it works, and some times it doesn't.

At the end of the year, it will come down to whether or not he wins a championship, and if he does, Girardi's questionable decisions will be irrelevant because all that matters is the 27th championship for that historic franchise.

Then, there is that 0-8 mark against the Red Sox this year, and not winning a single game against their storied rivals (let alone losing a game to them) will never sit well with Yankees fans.

That record really doesn't mean much, because this Yankees team is capable of winning 8 in a row against Boston later this year, not to mention both teams could meet each other in the ALCS, which looks like that's going to be the case this year.

Managing in New York is one of the toughest jobs in America. It's not just dealing with the egos of the players, but it's dealing with the media and the demanding fans and handling high expectations.

It can either make or break a head coach, and more often than not, most head coaches don't fare well in this market. So far, Girardi has handled the pressure well, and his record speaks for itself.

Maybe Girardi will get his due if his team wins a championship this year, which could be very likely with the way everything has gone for this season.

Even then, Yankees fans will probably have something to complain about because that's all they do.