Wednesday, July 14, 2010

George Steinbrenner in his prime might have fired Joe Girardi after All-Star Game

George Steinbrenner fired Billy Martin less than a year after Martin managed the Yankees to their first World Series win in 15 years, back in 1977. One of the things that Steinbrenner and Martin clashed over was how to use Reggie Jackson. So what would the Steinbrenner of those days have said about Joe Girardi managing the AL to its first All-Star Game loss in 14 years, blowing home-field advantage for the Yankees if they get to the World Series, with Alex Rodriguez on the bench?

Squawker Lisa and I agreed that Girardi was saving A-Rod for a key moment in the ninth. We both predicted a homer - I just hoped it would be with none on. But then David Ortiz singled to start the bottom of the ninth.

And Girardi, even with the huge All-Star rosters, had no pinch-runner for Ortiz, whose poor baserunning got him thrown out at second on a bloop hit by John Buck.

It came down to two outs, one on, and Ian Kinsler at the plate. Kinsler has been hot lately and is now batting .310, but he only has four homers and 30 RBI in 239 at-bats.

A-Rod is hitting .269, but he has 14 homers and 70 RBI.

After the game, NL manager Charlie Manuel said of A-Rod, "I was definitely looking for him. You know, he's one of the better hitters in the game, if not the best." Manuel was smiling and even laughed as he said this.

Joe Girardi said after the game that he was out of outfielders and if the game had gone into extra innings, A-Rod would probably have been the DH.

That's fine, Joe, but you've got to get to extra innings first.

The last time A-Rod faced Jonathan Broxton, he singled to spark the Yankees' four-run ninth against the Dodgers on June 27. The previous night, Broxton walked A-Rod. These are the only two times A-Rod has faced Broxton.

So Broxton has never gotten A-Rod out, and the last time they faced each other, A-Rod started the rally that resulted in one of the worst blown saves of Broxton's career. This happened only two weeks ago. And it happened on national TV - the ESPN Sunday night game.

Wouldn't you think Girardi would want to make sure that A-Rod faced Broxton one more time?

A-Rod looked annoyed after the game when he was show in the dugout talking animatedly to Robinson Cano. Phil Hughes was probably not too pleased when he was pulled in his hometown after getting only one out and had to watch helplessly as Matt Thornton gave up the bases-clearing double to Brian McCann - saddling Hughes with the loss.

Girardi still has one more ring than Jerry Manuel is likely ever to have. But tonight, Girardi ended up making moves I might expect more from Manuel.

It's unthinkable today that Girardi could lose his job after winning a title just last November. But in 1978, Steinbrenner fired Martin in July after winning the title the previous fall. A few days later, Martin was introduced at Old Timers' Day as the new Yankee manager - for 1980.

The Yankees' 2010 Old Timers' Day is this Saturday. It should be a memorable day after all that has happened this week with the loss of both Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard. Fortunately for Girardi, his own status does not figure to be part of the story this time around.

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