Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Girardi's getting grumpy

Yup that pretty much sums it up.

Poor Joe Girardi. He’s channeling Michael Douglas in Falling Down faster than any of us could have anticipated. In the fourth inning of the Sox’ 6-4 win last night (last night being a relative term, since the game didn’t end until after 1 a.m., hooray for baseball teams not sticking it to their fans!), Girardi started hollering at Red Sox first base coach Tim Bogar. Of course, both men went into Las Vegas mode after the game when asked what happened, though The Journal News reports Girardi thought Bogar was stealing signs.

The fun was just starting for Girardi, who was tossed an inning later when he stepped in between Derek Jeter and home plate umpire Jerry Meals, the latter of whom took quite literally the unofficial rule that a manager cannot argue balls and strikes and tossed Girardi as soon as he opened his mouth.

(Along those lines, what’s Jeter got to do to get tossed from a game? Has that guy ever met a called strike he liked? He’s like a slicker Paul O’Neill)

I was going to say you’ve got to like Girardi’s chances of making it two ejections in a row tonight, since Joba Chamberlain starts twitching when he goes more than one game against the Red Sox without trying to kill Kevin Youkilis. But Youkilis is sitting due to a sore left side so Chamberlain may have to wait until another month to get his head-hunting fix.

Of course, who can blame Girardi if he’s losing his mind? His week began with him jumping to the defense of Alex Rodriguez, and that’d be enough for anyone to slip into madness.

Along those lines, if I’m Terry Francona, Theo Epstein, John Henry or any member of the Red Sox’ PR staff today, I’m sitting down and penning a nice thank you note to Gene Orza. Because if Ozra hadn’t declared the proposed restructuring of Rodriguez’ contract unacceptable in late 2003, Rodriguez would be a member of the Red Sox right now and it’d be Francona, Epstein, Henry and the PR staff cringing as A-Rod: The Many Lives Of Alex Rodriguez, the Rodriguez biography penned by Sports Illustrated’s Selena Roberts, is released.

Technically, we can’t assume that Rodriguez’ life would have unspooled in such tawdry fashion if he’d been traded to Boston instead. But we can have a pretty good idea that he’d be a wreck right now regardless of where he is and that there’d be plenty of interest in his salacious biography.

Fortunately for the Sox, the restructuring was a hurdle impossible to overcome and the Yankees swooped in and traded for Rodriguez in February 2004. And so today it’s Girardi, Brian Cashman, the Steinbrenner family and the Yankees’ PR people dealing with A-Rod’s latest soap opera while the Sox are just, you know, trying to win their third World Championship since Rodriguez landed in New York.

Girardi didn’t do himself any favors Sunday in his defense of Rodriguez, during which he gave the Roberts book tons of free publicity by criticizing the timing and content of Roberts’ books and others of its ilk. This of course brings to mind the Seth Meyers/Amy Poehler Weekend Update bit “Really?”

You really thought mentioning the book wouldn’t generate more interest in it? Really? You don’t understand why a book like this would be written? Really? You don’t want Rodriguez to be a target? Really? You thought mentioning Rodriguez wants to be a father too wouldn’t remind everyone the guy is gallivanting around with Madonna and strippers? Really?

My favorite part was the militaristic Girardi mentioning he’s done things he’s not proud of and that he’s made mistakes. It reminded me of a square parent trying to curry favor with his or her rebellious child by saying he got into trouble as a kid too. Why do I picture Joe wracked with guilt over the time he had two scoops of ice cream even though he didn’t eat his vegetables?

In Girardi’s defense, he was asked multiple times about Major League Baseball’s possible investigation of Rodriguez and said the Yankees were “moving on” three times before he finally spoke at length about the topics. And he’s just doing his job by trying to protect his player, though given that Rodriguez’ popularity in the Yankees locker room is somewhere between tepid and non-existent, I’ll bet getting the hook Monday did more to inspire his team than Girardi’s actions Sunday.

But still, the Yankees would be better off if Girardi had swallowed his words Sunday. Not as well off as the Yankees would have been if Cashman had hung up on the Rangers five years ago, of course (which brings to mind the whole debate about how can the Yankees be better off without a Hall of Famer in the heart of the lineup, but that’s a topic for another time).

Email Jerry at jbeach73@gmail.com.

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