“I’m through with ’em. I mean it, I’ve had it!”
That’s what Yankee manager Joe Girardi told me in a recent conversation. With his team’s percentage a dismal .543, six-and-a-half games back of first going into Tuesday night’s All-Star game, the Yankee chief is justifiably upset.
“Joe, I understand,” I said. “After adding Kevin Youkilis and Vernon Wells this year you would’ve expected them to be more productive. Then you’ve got Jeter, who’s been missing for most of the season, back on the bench with a quadriceps injury. Hey,” I added, “I feel your pain!”
“What the $#@% are you talking about!” Joe said.
“I’m talkin’ about the Yankees poor performance.”
“Are you crazy? I’m talking about Congress!” he said with an greater look of disgust than he gave umpire Bob Davidson last year after the Yankee manager was tossed for arguing a strike call against Curtis Granderson. “These guys [Congress] are nuts; certifiably nuts!”
“Which guys?” I asked.
“Reid and McConnell, the two boneheads in the Senate.”
“You mean Majority Leader Harry Reid and GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.”
“I mean Boneheads!” he underscored. “Every time they come close,” he says, holding his fingers two inches apart, “…justthis close, they blow it.”
“What happened, this time?”
“Don’t you read the papers, watch Meet the Press? These guys can’t agree on what toothpaste to use, let alone anything of substance down there, whether it’s a farm bill, immigration reform… Hell, they can’t even get together on the president’sjob appointments. And I’m not talkin’ some of the time. I’m talkin’ ALL of the time.
“What’s the solution?” I ask him.
Joe lowers his head, gives it a sad shake. “I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I mean, I had an easier time dealing with A-Rod last year than these guys, and believe me, Rodriquez is no picnic.”
“Speaking of A-Rod,” I say. “What are you going to do if he gets suspended for alleged links to performance-enhancing drugs in this Biogenesis flap?”
“I’ll cross that bridge when I have to.” Just then, a light bulb goes off over his head. “Speaking of drugs, maybe every member of Congress should be required to take performance-enhancing drugs. They sure aren’t performing anywhere near expectations. For starters, this year, they’re working only 126 days with 239 days off!”
Joe sits up straight, with a finger pointed in my direction.
“We play a 20-30-game pre-season followed by a 162 game regular season, up to 14 in post, and if we make it to the World Series, it could be another 7. And, with the exception of injury, my guys are there, ALL my guys!”
“What can be done about it?” I ask.
“If I turned in that kind of performance, I’d be gone, fired and replaced. But you can’t do that to ‘elected’ members,” he says, adding more than a little sarcasm on the “elected” part.
“I’ll tell you what should happen. They should be suspended. Correct that, they should be forced to work, but their pay should be suspended for say, 30 days. If by then, the public still sees no results in passing a budget, dealing with the deficit, then 30 days more until they pass a budget and come up with a serious plan to deal with the deficit.”
“Joe, the public can’t do that. It’s not in the Constitution.”
“Yeah, well, IT SHOULD BE!”
Girardi stepped back a moment before getting ready to finalize his thoughts.
“Look,” he tells me, “when I managed the All-Star team in 2000, I had some 25-30 players from 15 different teams. You get an idea what a manager has to go through. He’s required to manage at a high level. He has situations he has to deal with and the expectations he has to deal with, the personalities he has to deal with. It’s a lot. But that’s part of being a professional. You gotta deal with it. The people who come to watch you play expect nothing less.
“Same with Congress. They’re playing at the highest level. They have situations they have to deal with, personalities they have to deal with. It’s a lot. But that’s part of being a professional. You gotta deal with it. Difference is what Congress is dealing with isn’t a game, the country is depending on their performance. They’ve gotta start acting professional. The people expect nothing less.”