With all due respect to Will’s think piece from yesterday, we’d like to explain why Joe Girardi should not consider leaving the Yankees after this season to succeed Lou Piniella as manager the Cubs. (Full disclosure: Some of these points may have also appeared in the comments section of Will’s post, because they’re just that obvious.)
The argument that Girardi might manage Chicago because he’s got a connection to the Cubs might hold water if Girardi were still employed by the Marlins or some other team with which he has no real history. But he’s got a long history with the Yankees. He spent four years in New York as a player, three times winning the World Series. Perhaps his greatest moment as a player came during this time: his triple off Greg Maddux in Game Six of the 1996 Fall Classic. He spent a year as Joe Torre’s bench coach. And while he may have been in the booth during the Steve Bartman game, he spent 2004 and 2007 providing analysis in the YES booth. If you’re counting, that’s six seasons in Chicago, and seven in some capacity in New York — without even counting his three years as manager.
But let’s say, for argument’s sake, he left for Chicago, because he’s from the area, or whatever. Winning the World Series in Chicago wouldn’t make him the symbol of the long-awaited title; it would make him Terry Francona, a beloved champion in Boston, but one who’s below Papi, Manny, and Pedro on the Boston Legends of the Aughts Scale. (We believe he’s somewhere between Curt Schilling and Nelson de la Rosa on said scale.) Because if Chicago wins the World Series, it won’t be Girardi on the cover of Time; it’ll be whichever players the Cubs buy with all that money they’re supposedly going to spend. Which, by the way, will surely be less than the Yankees are willing to spend. This isn’t like the LeBron James–to-the-Knicks debate: Girardi’s a fine manager, but he wouldn’t be considered a savior. He’d be the manager of the saviors. After all, who’s the bigger legend in New York: Mark Messier or Mike Keenan?
Would it take four titles in New York to equal the legacy of Joe Torre, to enter the Pantheon of Great Yankee Managers? Perhaps. But Girardi, 45, has one in the books already, and the Yankees don’t fire managers like they used to. He’s on good terms with management, and it doesn’t make sense to leave for a worse situation simply because one day, under different circumstances, maybe that will change. If he wants to chase a lasting legacy, he can do that right here. Chicago’s a fine baseball town, sure. But so is New York, even though we — gasp! — play our games at night.