Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Joe Girardi Is Learning from the Tom Coughlin Instruction Manual

Two seasons ago, Tom Coughlin sat in a dark office, wondering what he could possibly do to save his job.

He had ultimately lost his locker room, and the veteran presence was beginning to shut him out.

The implementation of a leadership council, coupled with the brightening of a stern personality only a soldier could love, eventually paved the Giants path to a Superbowl title.

After similarly losing touch with the countless stars in the Yankee dugout, Girardi watched as his team finished six games out of the AL Wildcard race.

Even more concerning were reports of Derek Jeter’s displeasure with the locker room and coaching situation in the Bronx.

Permanently stuck within the league’s strongest division, Girardi knew that cosmic changes were necessary during this past offseason.

While $423.5 million of expenditure seems cosmic enough in itself, it has been the changes Girardi has made with his own attitude that may loom even larger.

Enter Tom Coughlin playing the role of Socrates, and Joe Girardi trying out for the role of his finest pupil Plato.

Actually, with as much talent as is present within the Giants and Yankees locker rooms, it is more so a revised copy of Coaching for Dummies.

Girardi’s job is even more simplistic than Coughlin’s. Coughlin needed to show a team’s core how to win, while Girardi needs to remind his core how to win.

Girardi’s “leadership council” has already been in power for fourteen years. By allowing Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera to handle their business, the Yankees will be far better off.

This is what Joe Torre always did best. He knew that he had the keys to a Ferrari, and he set it on cruise control. He never belittled his players, nor attempted to fix the unbroken.

Girardi has cancelled practices for team social gatherings, attempting to create a unified dugout. His relaxed demeanor has also been very well received by his players.

Aside from Girardi’s own behavioral changes, the Yankees have brought in an excellent compliment of personalities to the clubhouse.

Nick Swisher has already been dubbed the Yankee jester, making sure there is never stale air in the room.

He also works as hard as anyone on and off the field, showing a normally businesslike roster how to work and play. Damon will finally have a partner in crime.

CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira are two of the true fun-loving players in the league as well, and will deliver as many smiles and laughs in the dugout as they will victories on the field.

Even AJ Burnett has already made an impact on the Yankee roster. His relentless recruitment of Andy Pettitte during his contract negotiations made him realize how important he could become as one of the final pieces to the puzzle.

The likes of Brett Gardner and Cody Ransom will bring a toughness and gritty intensity from its role players that have been missing since the dynasty years.

The Yankees are a long way from following the Giants road to a championship. However, it appears Girardi has learned some important lessons in dealing with a big market sports franchise.

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