But the very thing that makes the Yankees easy to manage -- piles and piles of that sweet, delicious New York-market money -- is what makes them hard to manage. Managing the Yankees is like dating a supermodel; it sounds like a dream but then you start thinking of all the ways you can screw it up.
And when you manage the Yankees, there are plenty of people ready to tell you precisely
"It comes with the job," said Yankees catcher
Maybe the best thing you can say about Girardi, in his third season, is that he is rarely the story anymore. It's his team and he doesn't have to show it. And it's easy to forget, after the 2009 World Series and in the middle of another march toward 100 wins, that Girardi's tenure could have been a disaster.
Yes, disaster. That's not a word we normally associate with the Yankees. But consider:
1. Girardi replaced
2. Girardi was a World Series-winning Yankee player -- dare I say it, a True Yankee -- but he got the job over
3. Girardi had been fired in Florida for clashing with management. Marlins owner
As a general rule, if you have trouble getting along with sports owners, it's not a good idea to go work for the Steinbrenner family.
4. Girardi took over at a transitional time for the Yankees -- the only season since the mid-'90s when management privately believed the team might not make the playoffs. This was a problem for Yankee fans, who generally expect their team to win the World Series twice a year.
In Girardi's first year, the Yankees missed the playoffs and he rubbed people the wrong way with his tendency to bend the truth about injuries. Then, last year in spring training, the A-ROD STEROIDS SCANDAL OMG! OMG! hit, and the Yankees started 15-17 and
But Girardi navigated his way through all of that and showed he was the right man for the job. His greatest attribute is that he is unflappable. How much did this have to do with the Yankees recovering, winning 103 games and the World Series? It can't be quantified. But it had to help.
Girardi overmanaged at times in the 2009 postseason. He went to his bullpen too early and often, had relievers getting up and down all the time -- it looked like a carousel ride out there.
But when he got ripped for it, Girardi just went out and managed the next game. When
You can say he is lucky to have this roster, and you'd be right. But that doesn't mean everybody could handle it. Tigers manager
Leyland gets away with this in Detroit because the media there is pretty forgiving, because he has the respect of his players, and because on most days, he is as funny and insightful as almost anybody in baseball. Ninety percent of the time, Leyland is extremely likable. Detroit seems to focus on that 90 percent. New York would not cut him the same slack.
The Yankees are the biggest business in baseball and Girardi has thrived because he is all business. But he has loosened up a bit, too. He ducked into the Yankees clubhouse Tuesday, looked around for a player, didn't see him and cracked, "Why can't I find anyone, ever?" The good news for Joe Girardi is that these days, the mob isn't looking for him.