For the fifth installment of the 2009 She-Fan Awards, which recognize a person, persons or event that helped the Yankees become World Champs for the 27th time, we turn to Joe Girardi and his anger management issues. In other words, we’re taking a closer look at the four instances in which he was ejected during the ’09 season. Did his fiery temper spark the Yankees to greater glory? Were his on-the-field tirades a good strategy? Did getting angry raise his blood pressure and put his health in jeopardy?
I have no clue about the last question, except that I remember reading something about angry people and heart attacks. In any case, here are the nominees for the 2009 She-Fan Award for Best Girardi Ejection…
- May 4th Versus the Red Sox -
The Yankees had lost the first three games of the season to Boston, and the pressure was on to beat the Sox. Phil Hughes, replacing Wang in the rotation, was facing Jon Lester and only lasted four innings. Girardi thought Hughes was being squeezed by home plate umpire Jerry Meals, but Joe’s big problem with Meals came later. Trailing the Red Sox in the fifth inning, the Yanks had Jeter up. Meals called him out on a questionable strike three, and the Captain was not amused. He hung around and gave Meals a few choice words – very un-Jeter-like. Girardi came rushing out to protect his player and was tossed almost immediately. What happened next? With Berroa on first, Damon homered on Lester’s first pitch. Then Tex homered on Lester’s next pitch. So Girardi’s ejection did spark a rally. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and the Yanks fell again to the Sox 6-4.
- June 24th Versus the Braves -
The Yankees had been playing like chumps, not champs, having lost three in a row and five of their last six. There had been a players-only meeting the night before with Jeter and Tex telling the team, “We’re better than we’re showing.” The situation was so dire that Cashman made a surprise visit to Atlanta to let everybody know it was time to stop stinking it up. But the June 24th game got off to a miserable start. The offense was stymied by Braves rookies Kenshin Kawakami and Kris Medien, who were perfect through five. Then Gardner walked to lead off the sixth (so much for perfection), and the Yanks had a pulse – until first base umpire Bill Welke ruled that Gardner had been picked off. Replays showed Welke had blown the call, and Girardi came storming out of the dugout to argue. His ejection sparked a barrage of runs, beginning with Cervelli’s first major league homer. The Bombers beat the Braves 8-4 and Joba notched his first win of the season.
- July 6th Versus the Blue Jays -
It was the final home game before the All-Star Break and the final game in a four-game series against the Jays (the Yanks had already won the first three). Pettitte was facing Ricky Romero and looking for the sweep, but things got off to a rocky start. In the very first inning, Jeter led off with a walk, went to second on a balk and tried to steal third. Catcher Rod Barajas’s throw beat Jeet, but replays showed he avoided Scott Rolen’s tag. When third base ump Marty Foster called Jeter out, the Captain expressed his displeasure. “I was told I was out because the ball beat me and he didn’t have to tag me,” Jeter later told the media. “I was unaware they had changed the rules.” Meanwhile, Girardi came out to argue on his player’s behalf and was tossed. The Yankees overcame Pettitte’s ineffectiveness with five late runs, but they were not enough and Toronto won 7-6.
- September 13th Versus the Orioles -
The Yanks were playing the Orioles, but it was another battle between Girardi and Marty Foster, who was the home plate umpire this time around. In the fourth, A-Rod was up with bases loaded and struck out looking to end the inning. He did not think the pitch was a strike and argued with Foster to no avail, obviously. After the O’s batted in the top of the fifth – and some not-so-complimentary words from the bench by A-Rod and Girardi, Foster ejected both of them. Joe charged out of the dugout, as mad as anyone had ever seen him. He threw down his cap and mimicked Foster, who had waved his arms in the air when signaling the ejections. Eventually, the skipper was restrained by crew chief Wally Bell. As for the Yanks, they had an eight-run eighth inning and blew away Baltimore 13-3.
The envelope please.
The winner of the 2009 She-Fan Award for Best Girardi Ejection is…
***** June 24th Versus the Braves *****
All the Girardi ejections were entertaining and even inspiring the way they woke up the occasionally slumbering offense, but it was when Joe got tossed in Atlanta that the team really turned it up a notch. They had just lost their series against both the Nationals and the Marlins, and had fallen to the Braves in the opener of their three-game set. They were sputtering – not horribly, but enough to cause concern. After
Girardi’s ejection, they beat the Braves twice and went on to a brilliant second half of the season. Enough said, although I did enjoy the meltdown on September 13th.
Congratulations, Mr. Girardi, for losing your temper in such a productive way.
Oh, wait. Mr. Girardi is in Oslow, Norway, lobbying for the next Nobel Peace Prize. Accepting the gold fan on his behalf are Yankees hangers-on and co-stars of the movie “Anger Management,” Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler.
Enjoy your award, gentlemen.