If Brian Cashman did not fire Joe Girardi, New York Yankees principal owner Hal Steinbrenner would have in this stunning new insight.
It’s always the quiet ones who surprise. Hal Steinbrenner, who rarely models his dad’s brusque manner, mans the Yankees from afar. But when he speaks as he did recently about the firing of Joe Girardi, he carries a big stick.
As it turns out, based on a report from Sports Illustrated‘s Nihal Kolur, Girardi was a goner, perhaps even before the 2017 season began, and also if the New York Yankees had won the World Series.
Despite the full range of power he grants to Brian Cashman, Steinbrenner remains ‘The Boss,’ in the same mold as his late dad.
“As I told Cash, I wasn’t following his recommendation: I agreed with it. He and I have had these discussions for a considerable length of time, over and over again,” Steinbrenner told reporters during the annual general manager meetings in Orlando, FL. “This isn’t something we just decided we wanted to sit down and do at the end of the season. We’ve had a lot of discussions through the years.”
Curiously, Girardi is said to be present at these same meetings but has resisted making any comments, at least so far.
The Cold Hand Of Power
This is not the first time in the long history of the Yankees, the cold hand of power has struck an individual who did anything wrong, except for the fact he didn’t do everything right. Yankees fans will recall the treatment levied by George Steinbrenner on the beleaguered Buck Showalter at a time when the Yankees were on the precipice of “The Run.” Showalter, much like Girardi, had guided the Yankees toward the top but was dismissed before he reaped any of the rewards for his efforts.
Those rewards went to his successor, Joe Torre, who hung around long enough to build up his Hall of Fame credentials before, he was unceremoniously dumped in favor of, and ironically, Girardi.
Such is the nature of baseball when viewed strictly through the lens, not as a sport but as a business. Personalities aside, when decisions are made at the top, and from Hal Steinbrenner’s comment that “Cash and I have had these discussions over and over again,” they become a steamroller on a downhill plunge with no turning back.
Unfortunately, the “personalities” involved are people and human beings who, undoubtedly get hurt in the process. We can be sure, for instance, Joe Girardi must be wondering (to himself for the moment), “What the hell did I ever do to the Yankees to deserve this kind of treatment in the press?”
For now, Girardi wisely has decided not to burn any bridges with the Yankees and perhaps more importantly, baseball in general. But just as with Showalter, there will likely come a time when pride takes over, and Saint Girardi will have a lot to say about his time with the Yankees.
This explains why, for example, in 1995, Showalter would have these bitter remarks unfold in a New York Times story that suggested Buck should fire George:
“This explains why Steinbrenner is one of the most joyless, barren people I have ever met,” Showalter told George Vecsey. “He must humiliate people. He snarled at a young woman serving him in the Kingdome the other night, leaving people thinking all the worse about New York. I told them Steinbrenner comes from Cleveland and Tampa, that we take no responsibility for him.”
And so it is that two decades later, things only seem to change. And our perception becomes warped by the presence of new faces – George vs. Hal, Joe vs. Joe, and Joe vs. whoever the Yankees eventually decide on to replace Girardi.
But the face of the organization never changes. The New York Yankees are one of the elite businesses, not only in baseball but the world. And you don’t claim that title without running your business as a business all day, every day.
What is refreshing and unusual about Hal Steinbrenner’s remarks is the candor he expresses. Most of us had a sense there was more to the Girardi firing than Brian Cashman acting like God. This proves there was, and if Cashman has any understanding about the cold hand of power in his realm, he might remember there is someone above him who speaks softly and seldom, but who carries a bigger stick than he does.