On Tuesday, people all across the country will go to the polls to cast their votes for the men and women they want to represent them in Washington and state capitals for the next few years. Anyone who watches a lot of cable news is well aware that the one thing we know for sure is that it isn't going to be a good year for incumbents.
The Yankees are bucking trends in two ways. They aren't waiting until election day to choose the man who will lead them into the future and they are sticking with the horse they've been riding for the last few years. It's being widely reported on Thursday that Joe Girardi and the Yankees have agreed to terms on a three-year, $9 million contract extension that also includes bonuses for victories in the ALCS and World Series.
Nothing surprising about that, outside of the fact that he's harder to offend than Joe Torre. Once the Cubs filled their opening with Mike Quade, there wasn't much chance that Girardi was going to look elsewhere for employment and his working relationship with the Yankees has been an easy one through his three years in the dugout.
The relationship with the fans and the media has been a little bit more problematic. He got ripped to shreds by Joel Sherman of the Post after the season ended and it wasn't hard to pick up on other rivers of dislike coming from outside the team.
One of the biggest sources of derision was Girardi's obsession with the binder of pitcher-hitter matchups he studied like a 12-year-old with his first copy of Playboy. What many people wrongly regard as a sabermetric approach is actually a reliance on statistics that have very little predictive value on a day-to-day basis. It winds up leaving him open to criticism from both ends of the baseball watching spectrum and leaves him sounding awfully silly when he defends making a move to a particular reliever because he's held a batter to two hits in seven at-bats over a three-year period.
There were also issues with the way Girardi looked this season. It was hard to watch Girardi at times this year because he radiated anguish every time he was caught on camera and became increasingly closed off during his interactions with reporters as the year went on. Many people tried to play armchair psychologist to explain his outward appearance. We'll skip that path, and simply say that he didn't project a particularly confident or secure air about the team. That surely fueled some of the negative reaction, especially when coupled with furiously looking in a book for information that just about everyone but Girardi agrees is useless.
It will be interesting to see how loud those voices become next season if the team should stumble out of the gate. Whether or not they land Cliff Lee in free agency, expectations will be high and memories of this year's late season struggles and ALCS loss will be fresh in people's minds. That might not be fair, but it is life in the big leagues.