The skipper has already entrenched himself in the Yankee
record books, having guided the team to the 2009 World Series title. In five
seasons at the helm, he's led New York to a 479-331 record.
But this series against the Orioles could vault Girardi — still just 47 years old — higher in the managerial rankings.
It started on Wednesday night, when Girardi made a gutsy
call and replaced Alex Rodriguez with Raul Ibanez in the ninth inning of the
game. Ibanez cashed in on the opportunity, belting the game-tying homer and
game-winning shot in extra innings.
Girardi elected for that decision, despite the fact
Rodriguez has been earning $29 million this year to anchor the lineup. Based on
the Yankees third baseman's performance thus far in the postseason, he hasn't
been living up to the expectations.
In 12 at-bats against the Orioles, Rodriguez has
accounted for just one hit and is hitting just .083. While Rodriguez rose to
the occasion during the 2009 World Series run, he's been labeled a choker in
That's why Girardi's choice was such a gamble. By
benching Rodriguez in favor of Ibanez — who is making $1 million this year, by
the way — the skipper risked alienating his superstar. Whichever way you put
it, Rodriguez was snubbed.
To win championships, desperate times call for desperate
measures. Had Girardi failed to insert Ibanez for Rodriguez, the Yankees could
be on the brink of elimination by potentially facing a 2-1 deficit to the
Instead, the Yankees have the upper hand.
That isn't the most impressive part of Girardi's
managerial performance during this playoff round. On Thursday, it was revealed
that Girardi had been managing despite his father's death last Saturday.
After battling Alzheimer's disease for over a decade, Jerry
Girardi died at the age of 81. But Joe Girardi didn't want the news to get out
into the public — or his players for that matter — and kept the emotions
bottled up inside.
Should the Yankees win the series, it'll be another
feather in Girardi's cap. He's battled through adversity while having the
mental fortitude to make gutsy, but effective decisions with his roster.
That's all you can ask from a manager.