Derek Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday nothing short of perfect, as he ended it with a walk-off RBI single against the Orioles, but the night apparently began on a sour note.
According to Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York, Yankees manager Joe Girardi ripped into his team in the clubhouse before Thursday’s game to express his disappointment about missing the playoffs for the second straight year. In what can best be described as awkward, Girardi reportedly took a break during his speech for the team to present some retirement gifts to Jeter.
According to clubhouse sources who were present for the critique, and backed up by interviews with more than a half-dozen players, most of whom spoke to ESPNNewYork.com off-the-record for fear of angering the manager, Girardi chided some players for being overweight, and others for not being “hungry” enough.
One source described Girardi as “angry,” and said he even took a brief timeout to allow the players, led by CC Sabathia, to present Jeter with the original painting of The New Yorker magazine’s Sept. 8 cover depicting the shortstop waving goodbye, and an expensive watch, before returning to Part Two of his tirade.
“It was a speech the likes of which I’ve never heard him give before,” said the source, who was in the room during the meeting. “It’s something he probably should have said back in spring training.”
Some are overweight while others aren’t hungry enough. Talk about your mixed messages. Anyway, Girardi confirmed that the incident took place, but he characterized it as a “team meeting” and said he was more “disappointed” than “angry.” However, he was clearly peeved that details of the meeting leaked out.
“I’ll tell you what really bothers me, and I’m not blaming you,” he said to the reporter who confronted him about the meeting. “It’s that you know. It’s not right that the meetings you have in the clubhouse get out of the clubhouse.”
The Yankees were officially eliminated from postseason contention on Wednesday night. You could certainly quibble with the timing of the speech, as it felt out of place with the overall tone of the night, but Girardi said that he wanted to address the team at Yankee Stadium and not on the road.