George King of the NEW YORK POST notes today that Joe Girardi told WFAN-AM in New York yesterday that he now wants to wear #28:
(Is it all about the team? Or the manager?)
Yesterday, on his WFAN gig, the manager strongly hinted he will wear No. 28 next season to signify a push toward winning back-to-back titles.
“Y’know, that’s something I talked to Brian Cashman briefly about [yesterday] and I want to talk to him about it more [today], but, I think I will,” Girardi said. “I’ve got to talk to Shelly Duncan to see if he allows me to wear it. I think I’m gonna make a number change.”
Duncan is a fringe Yankee player who wears #28. Somehow I have a feeling he’ll grant the request. Maybe he’ll get a box of Twinkies in return.
You can bet Girardi’s move will go over well with most Yankees fans - for now. But what if the team implodes next season? The number would become a Scarlet Letter for Girardi if the team ended up in the second division, which could always happen thanks to injuries and/or the team’s core of aging veterans.
So why would Girardi take that kind of gamble? Perhaps he’s thinking that because a manager’s lifespan can be so fleeting, he has nothing to lose - and it could be a motivator for the players. Not to mention a pandering ploy to help up the ante on his forthcoming contract extension. (George Steinbrenner is reportedly thrilled at the prospect.)
But I think if you asked people inside the Yankee organization, with whom I worked for four years, they would tell you that Girardi is making a huge mistake. Not only would he look bad if the Yankees stumble, but the move also comes off as narcissistic. Instead of focusing attention on the team, Girardi is grabbing the spotlight for himself.
It’s bad form all around and very well could lead to a speedier departure from the Yankee dugout.