Reflecting on this year's post season gives me the opportunity to see flaws in our team including our dugout management. My reflection yields one main thought: Joe Girardi needs to be grittier. Now, when I brought this idea up to my Met fan daughter, she said, "Like Terry Collins?" I had to agree and added, "like him, Cubs manager Joe Maddon, Royals manager Ned Yost, and Astros manager A. J. Hinch." They teach grit and it shows in their players who evoke situations that yield opportunities for their teams to dominate games over their opponents.
In an MLB post game interview back in 2014, Ned Yost described grit and persistence best when he talked about how his Royals team used their tremendous energy to battle back and his coaching staff exerted patience and understanding for his young players who were just fighting to win. "We are doing things differently; we are defending a little bit earlier, we are pinch hitting more in certain situations because we are trying to win baseball games. The scrutiny is the scrutiny. I've come to find out that I can put a player in the ball game and if he gets a base hit or gets a big out, no one is going to say anything. But if I put in that same player and he strikes out or gives up a hit, then it's all the second guessing that comes down on you. I've learned that it is neither right or wrong most of the time. You made the right decision; it either works out or it doesn't work out. The one thing that has gotten us to this point is the patience we have had with these young guys."
Am I saying that Joe Girardi doesn't have patience? Perhaps. He is just so tight and old school that he seemingly appears outdated for a game that seems to be more about chances and opportunities than playing the odds of lefty vs. righty. Guys need to be gritty. They need to be persistent in their quest for the chance to play in the Fall Classic. Like former New York Giants Coach Tom Coughlin said to his guys, "One week at a time, one game at a time, one win at a time." Girardi needs to think more like that and take some chances.
"We've been behind a lot of times. We've battled back. We totally expect that out of the Cardinals. A lot of their better record against us was early in the season, their ability to battle back against us in the latter part of a game. So none of that surprises -- you can take nothing for granted. You don't pack up the bats with the last out ever, and I love it for that," said Joe Maddon after moving on to play the Cards in their match up last October. I feel like the other Joe has forgotten how to battle or perhaps he needs a more energetic team to battle with?
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said this after learning that they would play our Yankees in a Wild Card game this October. "We have such a young team, a talented team. This could have gone many different directions this year. A. J. (Hinch) kept the guys focused and they had so much desire inside of them to win. As we started accumulating those wins in April, it started to become a reality for us that we have a chance to make the postseason, and through the ups and downs of a long season they battled through and made it today. I couldn't be happier for them. You know what? They're not done."
Bottom line, Girardi needs to be grittier. He needs to evoke this persistence in his team. Some will say we need more youth to finish the deal. I say sure, but without a teacher and a leader who can help young guys develop into good men, we can't win; we won't win. Girardi, find some grit and bring it with you to Tampa in February.
--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Senior Staff Writer
BYB Hot Stove Columnist
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