With 17 games left to play and two to make up in the AL Wild Card race, it should come as no surprise that as of late, the Yankees have been playing with a sense of urgency and a noticeable intensity. Still, it was pretty shocking to see the usually stoic Joe Girardi go nuts on Orioles third-base coach Bobby Dickerson this past Monday night.
In a rare display of emotion, the Yankees manager called out Dickerson for stealing signs from rookie catcher Austin Romine, infuriating opposing manager Buck Showalter to the point that he and mean Joe had to be separated by the umpires. After the game, Showalter explained that the source of his frustration was the apparent hypocrisy of the Yankees’ allegations, given the fact that they are, “actually one of the better teams at it.”
A few days later the dust has settled, and one thing remains clear: Stealing signs is as much a part of baseball as a catcher putting them down behind home plate. “That’s part of the game,” admitted Showalter. “That falls underneath the Captain Obvious thing.”
This of course begs the question, why in God’s name did Girardi throw such a hissy fit? When pressed on the matter in far softer terms, Joe responded with two of his most well worn cliches: “I’m going to do everything I can to protect our players. I’m just going to leave it at that.”
My baseball playing experience only went through Little League, but even then we were stealing signs, and even then an opposing manager would be a bit of a tool for calling you out. Girardi is a baseball lifer, so you have to assume that on some level he’s aware of this. With that being the case, his decision to get in Dickerson’s face for peeking at Romine’s fingers reads as something of a desperate attempt to rile up his team. It didn’t matter what the Orioles did. They could have touched the ball after scratching their ass. Whatever it was, Joe Girardi was going to find a way to pick a fight and get his guys amped.
As lame as Girardi’s justification may have been, you can’t really blame the guy. The Yanks were kicking off an absolute must win series against a division rival and wild card competitor. Furthermore, if Tuesday night’s 7-5 victory was any indication – a display of power that featured two homers from Alfonso Soriano and an absolute moon shot from former Oriole Mark Reynolds – his glorified tantrum might just be paying off.
It may not have been as fun to watch as a Lou Pinella meltdown, but for the by the binder Joe Girardi, Monday’s outburst will do.