The A.J. Burnett “controversy” as to whom he was talking to when he cussed while walking off the mound during a pitching change is obscuring another odious performance from the pitcher.
The video (apparently copied by someone from their TV and embedded from YouTube) is below.
The background story is how bad Burnett was; the foreground story is whether or not he was talking to manager Joe Girardi about being pulled or was referring to a pitch he’d thrown to Joe Mauer that he thought was a strike.
Burnett, Girardi and catcher Russell Martin all said it was about the pitch.
The Yankees fan base and media went into a predictable rant as to what they’d have done to Burnett; what should be done to Burnett; what will be done to Burnett.
Did it ever occur to anyone that perhaps Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild might be more versed in pitchers, pitching and handling players than the fans on Twitter who have the unpaid and unacknowledged ability to decipher a mechanical tweak or dispensing of punishement that would correct all of Burnett’s issues?
That the firestarters in the media are trying to craft controversy to create a buzz for their stories?
That the evolutionary-stunted, missing link Michael Kay doesn’t know anything about baseball to begin with so to think that he has the answer as to how to handle Burnett is a logical fallacy?
Joe Girardi went to Northwestern; is a feisty baseball veteran and longtime coach; a former catcher; and successful manager.
He’s smarter than you in life and baseball.
To think that he’s going to lose respect in the clubhouse because he either did or didn’t let Burnett get away with embarrassing him on the mound is ignoring that that same clubhouse has probably had about enough of Burnett as well; that the veteran players on the team will likely confront him and tell him to stop being a self-indulgent, blame-shifting baby—independent of whom he was talking to on the mound—and that he needs to do his job.
Girardi is managing a veteran team; he’s not Billy Martin in personality where he’s going to lose his temper and physically confront a player publicly to make circumstances exponentially worse and enable the media and fans to get what they want. He’s calculating the consequences.
Martin never lasted particularly long in any one place as a manager mostly because of blurring the lines of propriety and having to be the toughest guy in the room. This led to both his game-managing genius and consistent self-destruct mechanism; you can bet that Martin’s antics in today’s world would’ve made his managerial tenures even shorter, if they existed at all. He was an insecure, paranoid person.
Girardi is in to be the Yankees manager for the long haul and if he goes down the road of physically confronting players publicly, he’s leaping over the cliff.
Girardi’s not tough enough?
When he was managing the Marlins, he grabbed Scott Olsen by the shirt collar, yanked him down the dugout steps toward the clubhouse and screamed in his face—and it worked. A notoriously immature Olsen needed that.
Would it help if Girardi got into a made-for-TV altercation with a veteran under contract through 2013? Highly doubtful.
Girardi isn’t Martin; he’s smarter as a person and has a greater sense of self-control to know what would be wise and foolish. The fans and media don’t have that breadth of experience nor the guts to do what needs to be done no matter how much ranting and raving as to what “they’d” do.
They’d do nothing.
They’d do what they do: talk a lot; write about it; get nervous and frightened, concerned about perception rather than what would be good for the team and the player.
Was Girardi protecting his player? Maybe. It’s more likely that he’s telling the truth about what happened on the mound and, as has been the case this entire season with incidents involving Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, is dealing with it appropriately in spite of what would be a juicy story and what outsiders want.
Befitting his style and personality, he’s putting the fire out. That’s his job.