Joe Girardi inspires Yankees to thrilling series-clinching victory

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 05: Joe Girardi /

Joe Girardi inspired the Yankees to a thrilling Game 5 victory, saving the series and (likely) his job in the process.

It’s amazing how much can change within the span of a few days. Just ask New York Yankees skipper Joe Girardi. He made one of the biggest mistakes (of omission) in recent memory in Game 2 of the ALDS nearly a week ago, when he declined to challenge a play that would have all but iced the game for the Yankees. Just when I think you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, Girardi, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself.

With the Yankees dead in the water after a deflating Game 2 loss, no thanks to his lack of in-game managing in the late innings, Yankees fans booed Girardi prior to Game 3 in New York, showing their displeasure with his recent transgressions. The Yankees manager took full responsibility for his mistakes, in a tear-jerking press conference that will make the hardest of hearts soften.

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Girardi and the Yankees responded by ripping off three wins against a team that at one point had won 22 straight games this season. No easy feat, to say the least. Todd Frazier and Brett Gardner‘s late-inning, extended at-bats summed up their toughness (and Girardi’s), showing just how much the Yankees players had their manager’s back, including his resiliency and grit, which also put the game on ice, where the champagne was waiting for them after their 5-2 victory in Cleveland. That win (and press conference) both saved Girardi’s job, with a reversal of fortune like I’ve never seen before.

Girardi’s Game 5 press conference reiterated more of the former, showing why the Yankees manager deserves to stay in New York for many seasons to come.

It takes a big man to admit his mistakes and Girardi was a manifestation of that in spades. Not only did he confess those missteps publicly, but he also made up for it on the diamond by winning the next three games and knocking off the heavy favorites and the reigning AL champion Cleveland Indians in the process.

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I’ll be that big man too. The other day, I called for Girardi’s job after that controversial loss last Friday night. I didn’t realize that he cared that much about his team, players and baseball as a whole. He even proved it on the field that he still belongs in those Yankee pinstripes. You’ve won me over, Mr. Girardi, and the Yankees are in great hands with you as their manager.

The Yankees’ next daunting challenge starts this weekend, where they begin a best-of-seven series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Game 1 of the American League Championship Series is all set for tomorrow, with a scheduled first pitch of 8:08 PM EST on FS1.