Although locked in on Game 5, Joe Girardi is also still aware of the goings-on around baseball
CLEVELAND - This is the biggest day of the Yankees' season, but as big as a winner-take-all ALDS Game 5 is for baseball, there were also a couple of other big pieces of news that circulated on Wednesday.
The most immediately impactful, in the Yankees' realm at least, was the announcement that John Farrell has been let go by the Boston Red Sox after five seasons as their manager. Joe Girardi was asked about that move during his pregame press conference, and the ever-virtuous Yankees manager expressed empathy for the now former Sox skipper.
"I feel for him, because I've been there, and my heart goes out to him, because I know how much he puts into the job and how much you put your heart and soul into a job," Girardi said. "I don't care what level it is, or where you're at in your life, when you get not retained or fired, it's no fun. And it hurts, because you know, in your mind, you've put your heart and soul into something, and it's someone saying that we think someone else can do a better job or we're going to go a different direction."
And that effect isn't just on the professional side of things, either, as Girardi explained with an analogy from elsewhere in the sports world.
"I'm a huge college football fan, and my heart goes out to those coaches that are under fire, too, because as much as you're under fire, for me, personally, I worry about my family being under fire," he said. "I don't know what kids do today, they tweet or all that stuff that they do, but they're defensive, and it hurts them. John Farrell has a family. He has a son that's in the big leagues, and I'm sure it hurts him. So my heart goes out to him."
The other big bit of news was the resolution of the controversy surrounding the Washington Nationals' starting pitcher assignment for Game 4 of their NLDS against the Cubs, a resolution that saw Stephen Strasburg take the ball despite apparently, less than 24 hours earlier, being too ill for that assignment.
Said game was originally scheduled for Tuesday but was postponed due to rain, and after that postponement became official, Washington skipper Dusty Baker announced that Tanner Roark, and not Stephen Strasburg, would make the start, because Strasburg was "under the weather."
That announcement set off a firestorm of media frenzy, as Strasburg was set for a full four days' rest after pitching Game 1, was seen at the ballpark for Game 3 on Monday, and went through a "normal" routine leading up to the game, so Baker's sentiments seemed a little fishy to many.
Only the Nationals seemingly know the full details of the entire scenario, but given it all, Girardi was asked how valuable it is to have the entirety of the team brass - coaches, manager, trainers, and front office - on the same page when it comes to revealing information like that.
"Sometimes it's hard, because you're trying to protect the team; it's not that you don't want to disclose the information because you don't want it to get out, but you don't want to disclose it because you might feel it gives the other team an unfair advantage," Girardi said. "That's the tricky part, but the more I do this job, the more I realize that it's very hard to keep secrets today, so a lot of times, it's just easier to disclose. There are a lot of reasons we do things that maybe don't make sense to anyone but us, but of you can put it out there and it's not going to affect everything, it's always easier."
And in that vein, communication between all the moving parts is even more imperative in situations like the one the Nationals and Strasburg were in.
"We try to communicate, so we're all on the same page and there's no miscommunication. The one thing that you don't want people to think you're doing is lying to them, and there's a difference between lying and not disclosing something because you might feel it puts you at a disadvantage," Girardi said. "And I was probably as much closed as anyone in the beginning of my career, and I'm a little bit different now because I learned some of the controversy that it can cause."
Specifically, Girardi singled out one situation he had in his rookie season as Yankees skipper that involved the most important member of his bullpen.
"I can go back to Mo in 2008, when he had that little thing in his shoulder that was going to, I believe, require a cleanup. But it wasn't going to affect him pitching, and sometimes players don't want you to say anything, so you've got to respect that," Girardi said. "But, it's important that you're all on the same page and that you talk about it."
And the ideal end result of that, Girardi said, is for the good of the team.
"I don't think that managers are trying to be dishonest or trying to fool anyone or trying to give anyone a story before anyone else, I think it's just you always worry about we want to keep our advantage," he said. "You look at the teams now, we're all really close, and so whatever edge you can keep, you try to keep it. That's our thought process."