Yankees Joe Girardi and the hobgoblins of little minds

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

The Yankees are headed for the playoffs. And manager Joe Girardi’s consistency is one big reason, even if it drives his critics crazy.

The Yankees and Yankees fans expect results. And not just the, we made it to the ALCS, kind of results. From the Steinbrenners to the stadium sweepers, championship banners are the Yankees raison d’etre.

It’s why Yankees manager Joe Girardi wears number 28 on his back. He wants everyone to know that the mission statement is still banners or bust. Of course, it also puts a bulls-eye on his back.

But that creates a conundrum, this place where philosophy and reality meet. No team can win the title every year; the Yankees tried it in the late ’40s and early ’50’s. It turned out that after a while they got tired of running around the bases, scoring all those runs, and finally let the Giants win one just to get some rest.

So, Girardi has inflicted unreasonable sartorial pressure on himself; his many critics have not had a problem piling on. And it is fair in some ways to judge him on his stated version of a successful season.

But any judging must be done first and foremost on Aristotelian empiricism and a long-term view. Sports is, after all, based completely on results. And baseball is all about longevity.

Joe’s biggest fault seems to be his consistency, which is perhaps his defining characteristic. Were I to peruse every article written about Girardi just this year, I could find two or three dozen criticizing him for not demoting and/or replacing players quickly enough.

If I read the comments sections, I could find hundreds of such criticisms, often with more direct and salty language. I, too, have found fault with Girardi’s patience on rare occassion.

But closer scrutiny, required for accurate judging, reveals a successful method to Joe’s maddening consistency.