Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Is Joe Girardi entering his "Tom Coughlin" year?

Yesterday, the NY Fruit Bowl Giants somehow coaxed Coach For Life Tom Coughlin to walk away from the job that has defined him for the last 12 years. My guess is they secured some pills from Bill Cosby and spiked Coughlin's chocolate milk. When he woke up, along with his walking papers, he had a numbness in his soul. It was the sudden realization that even two Super Bowl rings does not indemnify a coach, forever, from Judgement Day. In a league built around parity, the Giants went four straight years without making the playoffs, and - folks - that's a Cosby-level blackout. Even the iconic Coughlin - a red-faced fixture on the sidelines - had to go.

Which brings us to Joe Girardi, who - (and there is no other way to say this) - sucked last year. The YES Happy Marching Society will proclaim that the 2015 Yankees made the post-season, but that's like calling Billy Joel a rock'n'roller. The Yankees made a Wild Card game, which - had they won it - would have gotten them into the playoffs. They managed three hits. For my money, 2015 was Girardi's third straight year with no October, and right now, 2016 doesn't look much more promising. Four years as a mediocrity, and seven from their last World Series... would that do it? Would that cause the Yankees to mix up a Cosby home brew?

Of course, Girardi will get what Coughlin received - a discounted job appraisal, based on the hands he's been dealt. Frankly, I doubt a DNA meld of Don Shula and Vince Lombardi could have led the 2015 Giants to anything more meaningful than a Topps card convention at the Trenton airport Ramada. Likewise, Girardi's Yankee teams have been sabotaged by 10 years of farm system neglect and upper level mismanagement - a decade of Eduardo Nunezes and Lyle Overbays. Unfortunately, the owner won't fire himself.

But make no mistake: Giradi had a crappy 2015. Like Coughlin, his every move seemed to backfire. He channeled Captain Ahab in his obsessive support of Stephen Drew at 2B. He refused to see the alcoholic collapse of CC Sabathia until it erupted on the eve of the Wild Card. He consistently brought in Betances or Miller - sometimes with sizable leads, because the middle innings bullpen had traumatized him. He never seemed to realize that Brett Gardner was hopelessly out of gas, and that Jacoby Ellsbury doesn't hit with a tummy ache. The Yankees collapsed on Girardi's watch, as ugly a sight as anything done by M. Night Shyamalan in the last 10 years. Nevertheless, there's no talk - not even whispers - of his job being insecure.

Still, four years out of the playoffs - well - Danger, Will Robinson! We'd be facing the chance of a full decade without a World Series at bat. We could be midway through another 14-year barf - the 1980s relived - with the Mets owning NYC and nobody wanting to play for the Yankees. I've said this before, but it needs repeating: If a NYC team cannot outspend the team in Kansas City - and all things are equal - the Royals have the advantage. Fewer harpies, fewer bloggers, fewer carnal distractions.

Nobody thought Tom Coughlin would ever face judgement day by the wonderful, magical, all-loving Maras. As the perfect family, they simply adored the fellow. And who wouldn't? Coughlin was a true blue Giant and, from all accounts, one classy clamster. And I honestly think Girardi is his peer.

When I think of Girardi, I think of the night the Yankees won the World Series in 2009. Around 3 a.m., Joe was driving home toward White Plains, when he stopped to help a lady motorist whose car had broken down along the road. Here's a guy celebrating the greatest night of his managerial career - he surely smelled like old Dino - yet he stopped to help a stranger. Nobody can ever say Joe Girardi is not a good man. But four years out of the roses... that's the stuff of a Cosby cocktail. And even a beloved Coach For Life better watch what he sips.


ceeja said...

Girardi is a good conventional manager and seems to command the respect of the team, which is no mean feat.

But I'd prefer someone more innovative. The Yanks need to get an edge on other teams. They've got to rethink how they manage the front office and how they manage on the field.

John M said...

I just think Joe is wound just a little too tight, which can be a good thing but not with the teams he's had to work with. On the other hand, unless he's made some passionate arguments backstage that we don't know about, he's followed the same 'play the money' baloney that Torre followed, although I can see Torre agreeing with it more wholeheartedly. It basically takes an act of God or nuclear testing by North Korea for either of them to bench a high-priced vet in favor of a promising youngster.

The makeup of the team isn't Girardi's fault, of course, although you'd think a manager would have some say in creating the roster. But maybe not. I think if he burned the little black binders, grew his hair a quarter inch and maybe ate a carb once in a while, he'd be better off. Right now, he seems to be in over his head.

Is Dick Williams available?