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Monday, December 7, 2009

How I met Joe Girardi at Chipotle, of all places

So I met Yankee manager Joe Girardi today, and I was so excited, I lost my cool - big time!

Girardi was in town doing a fundraiser at Chipotle in Times Square. For a $5 donation to his Catch 25 foundation, you got a burrito, chips and salsa and a drink, and the chance to meet Girardi. What a deal! And not only did I get to meet Joe and say hello, I got to shake his hand, get an autograph, and get my photo taken with him. Awesome!

Anyhow, I got so excited over getting to talk to Girardi, I babbled like a fangirl in front of Joe! Yes, you read that right. I got emotional over meeting not a Yankee player, but the manager. It's because seeing him lead the Yankees to a World Series title was something I dreamed of, months before he ever was even officially considered for the job. And trying to explain how happy I was for him left me at a loss for (coherent) words! Let me explain:


As many Squawker readers know, I wasn't exactly a fan of the later years of Joe Torre's managing - or, more to the point, his snoozing in the dugout while collecting a paycheck from 2004 on. Remember from history class how Cato the Elder ended every speech by saying, "Carthage must be destroyed"? Well, I was kind of that way about Torre in 2006 and 2007 - the first two years of Subway Squawkers - with me repeatedly saying "Joe must go" in the blog. I also wrote repeatedly that the Yanks would never win another ring with Torre at the helm.

Anyhow, in June 2007, Baltimore had just fired their manager, and Joe Girardi - who was a Yankee announcer then, after getting fired from the Marlins the winter before - was interviewed for the spot. But then  he turned it down. I was at Walt Disney World when this all happened. Here's what I wrote at the time:
I was in Florida when Baltimore’s pursuit of Joe Girardi went down last week. You know what I wish happened? That Cashman whispered in Girardi’s ear to not take that job, because the Yanks would be needing him as manager very soon. 
Then, in October 2007, when it looked like Torre might still return, I wrote:
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, that my vote is for Joe Girardi. Girardi has shown that he is a good motivator. He knows the Yankee way, but he’s also learned different ideas. And he knows what ails this team. That was clear from listening to him announce games this year.

True, Girardi is an argumentative guy, who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, but frankly, that’s what this team needs after Torre and his green tea and his classiness. I’m tired of this team losing with class. I’d rather the Yankees be feared than be loved, and it’s been a long time since the Yanks have been feared. Girardi would be just the guy to bring that era back.
And when Torre and the Yankees finally parted ways in October 2007, I championed Girardi some more. I also predicted that the Yankees would pick Girardi, at a time where pretty much every single mainstream  Yankee writer in town was sure that Don Mattingly would be the successor. I wrote "the Yankees will pick Girardi over Mattingly for two reasons" - because "Girardi is the opposite personality of his predecessor, while Mattingly is very similar, personality-wise, to what the Yankees have had," noting that "most replacement managers fill the void of what their predecessors lacked." I also pointed out that the Yanks would be "stuck with Donnie Baseball as manager forever, even if he stinks, for fear of offending the fanbase."

And guess what, I was right! My oh-so-restrained headline on the day of the new managerial announcement was "Joe Girardi gets offer; Squawker does Snoopy Dance"!

Fast forward two years. Although I don't always agree with Girardi's managerial decisions, he is still a great hire. I also think he hasn't gotten the credit he deserves for this team's championship. All too many writers seemed gleeful to rip him for perceived errors, like the three-man playoff rotation, without giving him the credit he deserves for No. 27.

And for all the tired talk about how Girardi was so inflexible, he actually did something amazing - allowing an entirely new Yankee culture to flourish, while keeping the Core Four in the fold. Not only did these Yankees win it all, but they were the most likeable team in ages.

Anyhow, when I met Girardi today, I tried to explain to him how happy I was for him, and how much I admired him, and about how I wrote about him in the blog, but I sounded more like a babbling brook than anything! That's what happens to me when I get overexcited.

Before leaving Chipotle, I did pull myself together enough to say to Girardi, "thank you for  No. 27, here's to No. 28!" and wave. At least I did say one semi-coherent sentence!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

4 comments:

Rob A from BBD said...

I hope you got to meet him before you ate their food. Otherwise it might have gotten uncomfortable.

Lisa Swan said...

I actually like Chipotle food, but that's me!

Anonymous said...

Lisa:

Great post. I've been following you since your newpaper days and I too wanted Joe Torre gone (since after the 2004 ACLS debacle actually). It's great to see you have the opportunity to tell Joe hello and thanks for a great year! Plus it was only $5 and you go a meal to boot. If it was that Stenier's Collectible guy it would have been $25 to get in the store, $25 for the food and $50 to meet Joe, then $100 to take a picture with him. LOL!

Jason from The Heartland said...

Terrific for you, Lisa! I imagine that Girardi and the Yankees get it a lot from us fans. They probably appreciate the kind words more than anything.