“I get no respect, I tell ya.” – Rodney Dangerfield
In the aftermath of his team’s loss in the American League Championship Series, it wouldn’t be shocking to discover these are the words that sum up the feelings of New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
And who can fault him?
Not surprisingly, even before the obituary had been written on the Yankees’ season, the blame game in the Big Apple was already in full swing. But unlike the popular reality television series Survivor, no one was receiving immunity from having a finger pointed in their direction.
However, what is especially interesting to note is the growing contingent of fans who are placing all of the blame for New York’s shortened postseason squarely on Joe Girardi’s shoulders. This throng is also comprised of the same critics who do not want to see Girardi return as the Yankees’ manager next year.
When Alex Rodriguez struck out looking in Game 6 of the ALCS, the 46-year-old Girardi officially completed the final year of a three-year, $7.5 million contract with New York.
During this brief period, Girardi won a total of 287 regular season games, placing him fourth on the list of former Yankee players who became the manager of the team. In addition, Girardi guided New York to two playoff appearances (2009, 2010), an American League East Division Title (2009), an AL pennant (2009) and a World Series Championship (2009).
By any standard, this would be considered a successful three-year run for any manager in Major League Baseball.
Bobby Cox managed the Atlanta Braves for a quarter of a century (1978-1981, 1990-2010). This span saw the Braves win 2,149 games, 14 division titles and five National League pennants.
But in twenty-five years, Cox won as many World Series Championships as Girardi has in three seasons with the Yankees. Yet Cox was a beloved figure in Atlanta when he retired and the outcry for his replacement was never as loud as it is for Girardi’s despite winning equally as many championships in twenty-two more seasons.
After fifteen seasons as the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, Tony LaRussa added 1,318 victories, seven division titles and two NL pennants to his impressive résumé.
Nevertheless, in only two seasons in the role of New York’s skipper, Girardi won as many rings as LaRussa has during his entire reign in the “Show-Me State”.
In spite of the lack of championship hardware, LaRussa was asked to return to the Cardinals for a 16th season, an offer he gladly accepted.
Meanwhile, Girardi is left to wonder whether the Yankees will place an offer on the table for his return commensurate with the success he had managing the ball club.
Bearing this in mind, it certainly appears Girardi will continue to be subjected to tremendous criticism from New York fans due to the Yankees’ failure to win back-to-back World Series Championships.
Therefore, it can only be inferred that averaging 96 victories per season and winning a World Series Championship over a three-year period isn’t enough as manager of the Bronx Bombers.
Another inference that can be made is Yankees fans have become so drunk with success that any year ending without a World Series Championship is sufficient justification for heads to roll.
Either way, the bottom line is Girardi has done more than enough to warrant another contract with New York, at a higher salary, and Yankees’ fans need to come to the stark realization that Girardi is one of the major reasons a nearly decade-long championship drought came to an end last year.
Truthfully, the operative question going into the offseason shouldn’t be whether New York wants Joe Girardi back, but whether Girardi wants to come back to the Yankees.