Joe Girardi acknowledged, after his faux pas in Game Two last week against the Indians, that he may not be invited back next season to manage the Yankees. He's entering the final year of his contract and, as he said, the Yanks ultimately will determine what's best for the organization.
Girardi was ripped royally for failing to challenge a ruling on the field that Lonnie Chisenball was hit by a pitch with the Yankees leading, 8-3, in the sixth inning. One batter later, Francisco Lindor hit a grand slam off the foul pole that brought the Indians to within 8-7 before the Tribe won, 9-8, in 13 innings.
The outcry over Girardi's blunder was swift and stern, punctuated by his rationale afterward that his inner catcher told him to keep the game moving and pitcher Chad Green in rhythm, as if the reliever was in a groove in the first place. The story line quickly evolved into Girardi losing the game and perhaps the series.
Let me first be clear on something: Shame on me for not including the controversy in my column off the game. At the time, it appeared the ball glanced off Chisenhall's wrist or hand when it hit the knob of his bat and landed in Gary Sanchez's glove. I figured Girardi knew more from the dugout than I did from the press box.
Girardi pleaded guilty a day later, admitting he should have challenged. If he did, it could have – could have – resulted in the third out. Indeed, he was wrong for not making the umpires take another peek. I was wrong for not addressing his decision in my column about Jay Bruce and the resiliency of the Indians.
But the idea that Girardi blew the game, based on assumptions of success after he made his decision, was preposterous. The controversy, as is often the case, was blown out of proportion.
Girardi should have challenged the play, yes. But after seeing the replay two dozen times or more, I'm still not convinced he would have won the challenge. The argument for another look was based more on Chisenhall's initial reaction than irrefutable evidence. To me, it wasn't clear enough to overturn the decision on the field.
Even after Lindor's slam, the Yanks still had an 8-7 lead. According to Win Expectancy Finder, it gave them a 93 percent chance to win until Bruce tied the game with a homer in the eighth. The Yankees had a man on second with nobody out in extra innings when pinch runner Ronald Torryes was inexplicably picked off.
The Yanks had the lead after Girardi's mistake, and five more innings to beat the Indians after the game was tied, and failed to execute. And still people believe the manager lost the game because he decided not to challenge. It's ludicrous.
Now, if people want to blame Girardi for taking out CC Sabathia, by all means swing away. The 36-year-old lefthander threw 77 pitches and was in control of his former team. He had retired 11 straight batters at one point and was removed after walking the leadoff man in the sixth. The Yanks' vaunted bullpen crumbled.
This is equally important: Whatever criticism Girardi deserved for mismanaging Game Two would have been tempered, or vanished, in euphoria if the Yankees won the game. Girardi made himself an easy target in defeat. Funny how quickly the hot seat cooled after the Yankees beat the Indians twice in the Bronx and tied the series.
If the Yanks want to fire Girardi, that's their prerogative. If they fall short Wednesday in Game Five, many fans will want him gone. That's fine, but they should do so for the right reasons.
Oh, say can you see … me?
Remember the tantrum Antonio Brown threw during the Steelers win over the Ravens in Week Three, when the receiver launched a cooler along the sideline? Apparently, he wasn't just frustrated with Ben Roethlisberger failing to see him wide open on a passing play, as many suspected.
CBS Sports football insider Jason LaCanfora, one of the best in the biz, reported that Brown was outraged because he believed Roethlisberger ignored him in the passing game after the two disagreed with how Pittsburgh would handle the national anthem. Brown wanted to take a knee while his team voted to stay in the tunnel.
Roethlisberger threw nine passes intended for Brown against the Ravens, but it was the one pass Big Ben threw in another direction that set off Brown. Brown made 10 catches for 157 yards with 19 targets in a 30-9 loss to Jacksonville at home. Of Roethlisberger's five interceptions, three were intended for Brown.
Aldean picks SNL over UFC
Co-founder and current UFC President Dana White reportedly was seething over the weekend after Jason Aldean and several other country music stars declined invitations to sing the national anthem before an event in Las Vegas.
White told TMZ Sports that he asked Aldean's reps if he would return for the anthem for a crowd that included survivors and first responders from the shooting that left 58 dead and more than 500 injured. It happened Oct. 1 when a gunman opened fire on Aldean's concert from a Mandalay Bay hotel room.
According to the website, White was told through Aldean's the singer was still traumatized by the shooting and might never again perform live. White said also was turned down by other country music stars to sing before UFC 216.
On the same night, Aldeen performed the late Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" on Saturday Night Live to rave reviews.
"His image was more important than coming back to Vegas and playing for the people who are his fans and who got shot watching him play," White told TMZ, before directing an expletive at Aldean. "Stay out of Vegas."
Tallying the Votes
Twitter polls hardly deserve the same credibility that comes from Quinnipiac and other places because, well, it's Twitter. It's an incubator for idiocy on many levels, but you might be interested in recent results as they pertain to the Bills.
What a difference a week makes.
After the Bills beat the Falcons in Atlanta to improve to 3-1, and again after they lost to the Bengals in Cincinnati to fall to 3-2 going into the bye week, I raised the question: Will the Buffalo Bills make the playoffs this season?
After the win over Atlanta (504 votes):
Yes – 42 percent.
No – 58 percent.
After the loss to Cincy (748 votes):
Yes: 18 percent
No: 82 percent.
It begs the question: Why are you people so negative?
"I can't sugarcoat it, I am devastated. All I want to do is be out there on that field for my teammates and this city. I'm sorry." – @JJWatt after the Texans defensive end suffered a season-ending broken leg.
Former Royals pitcher Bret Saberhagen, to the San Francisco Chronicle, fleeing Ronnie Lott's celebrity golf tournament at Mayacama Golf Club with during the deadly fire that raced across Northern California: "I was standing on the balcony at Mayacama when the power went out and, sat down and saw the moon come up. It was very nice. And then I saw the moon turn orange."
25 – Consecutive regular-season losses in Anaheim for Calgary before the Flames' 2-0 victory Monday snapped a streak that began in 2004.
81 – Yards rushing on 27 carries in five games this season for Adrian Peterson before the Saints traded him Monday to the Cardinals.
12 – Strikeouts for Yanks rookie Aaron Judge while batting .066 in the first four games of the ALDS.
* The NFL should refrain from changing rules pertaining to the anthem. The league alienates fans for various reasons and is facing a no-win situation in this case. Who cares what the president says? Or the owners? Or the players? Or anyone else? The league should back off before making matters worse.
* For all the crazy stats compiled in UB's 71-68 loss in seven overtimes to Western Michigan, here's another: The men's basketball team failed to score 68 points five times last season and had a 2-3 record in that situation. Buffalo's women's hoops team had a 12-6 record when it scored 68 points or fewer.
* If the exhibition season is an indication, it's going to be a very long season for the Knicks. New York dropped its first four preseason games. Two came against the Nets – the Nets! – by a combined 42 points. Carmelo Anthony had to be traded, but the impact of his departure could be greater than expected.
* It's too early for Leafs fans to plan the Stanley Cup parade just yet, but it's worth noting their 19 goals were their most through three games in 100 years. Toronto scored 27 times in winning two of its first three in 1917-18, when the team was known as the Arenas. They won the NHL title, as it was called, with a 13-9 record.