Joe Girardi couldn’t have been happy to begin with. His Yankees had just finished getting swept by the White Sox, who won last night 2-1 on the back of a brilliant pitching performance from Chris Sale*, who allowed just three hits and struck out 13 in 7 2/3 innings of work. An outing like that from a starter leaves a manager essentially powerless, and especially given Girardi’s penchant for trying to control pretty much everything, it couldn’t have been a good feeling watching helplessly as his lineup got dominated.
So while yes, the Yankees are still in first and still have one of the best records in baseball, last night wasn’t a good night to be Joe Girardi. That means it was easier than normal to piss him off. So when a heckler started obnoxiously yelling about the Yankees getting swept in the middle of Girardi taking questions from reporters, there wasn’t much way it was going to end well:
While managers directly confronting heckling fans in the middle of Q&A sessions with the press isn’t something you see every day, and made for a bit of an uncomfortable moment, it’s hard to blame Girardi here. He just told a guy who really ought to have shut up, to shut up. The best part, though, is how he immediately resumes answering the question about Sale, right where he left off, after he returns from confronting the fan. You cannot faze Joe Girardi. Well, unless you’re a heckling fan.
*OK, finally have an excuse to brag about Chris Sale a bit. The reason: back in the summer of 2009, Sale was a successful but still not terribly widely-known pitcher for Florida Gulf Coast pitching in the Cape Cod League over the summer. It just so happened that that summer, a friend of mine had an internship on Cape Cod, and one weekend a couple friends and I went up to visit and, among other things, took in a Cape Cod League game.
Now, Sale wasn’t pitching the day we went, but everyone there got a sheet with full league stats. I looked it over and couldn’t help but single out a 6-6 lefty with dominant-looking numbers. You can guess who it was. Judging by that sheet, I figured he was probably about the best pro prospect in the league that year. The next year he went in the first round, and two years after that, he’s a Cy Young contender, which obviously blows away even the wildest expectations I could have had, but I can always pull that little anecdote out to say: hey, I at least kind of saw it coming.