Joe Girardi gets redemption

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The New York Yankees technically beat the Cleveland Indians three games to two in their best-of-five series, but it sure felt like they beat them four games to one. That was on Joe Girardi, of course, who today has to feel more relieved than he ever has been. Relieved because, if the ball had bounced a few different ways over the past several days and if the Indians had won, Girardi would be the biggest goat in New York sports in years. Maybe ever. He might even be out of a job.

This is due to his blunder in Game 2 when, in the sixth inning, with the Yankees leading 8-3, runners at the corners and two outs, Yankees reliever Chad Green grazed Lonnie Chisenhall‘s bat with a fastball. Home plate umpire Dan Iassogna called it a hit by pitch, but both catcher Gary Sanchez and slow-motion footage revealed the ball hit the bat and was likely a foul tip strikeout that would’ve ended the Indians’ rally. Girardi was cast into instant infamy for his failure to call for a replay review of the play, however, Chisenhall took first base and Francisco Lindor hit a grand slam, bringing the Indians back and, eventually, on to victory.

In the immediate aftermath Girardi made excuses — He didn’t want to take Green out of his rhythm! His replay tech didn’t have a definitive view! — but they weren’t convincing. After a night’s sleep, Girardi acknowledged that he messed up. While trying to maintain his positivity afterward, he did say later that “it was as difficult a loss as [he’s] had as a manager.”

He also noted that what happened in the remainder of the series would “determine the severity” of his blunder. He was certainly right about that. Because, as we sit here this morning, a mistake that even the least excitable Yankees fans I know suggested should cost Girardi his job is now beginning to form the narrative foundation of what is shaping up to be an improbably deep postseason run.

The Yankees won twice in The Bronx to get back to Cleveland and then finished off the series comeback by clobbering Corey Kluber, who is likely to take home the A.L. Cy Young hardware. All of that was impressive and all of that was attributable to Yankees players executing and, in some cases, taking their games to a whole new level. That play and those wins also take Girardi off the hook. If you don’t believe that, just listen to what Girardi’s boss, Brian Cashman, said after the game:

“This turns the page. The storyline changed. Instead of the focus maybe being on a mistake made that cost something, it’s not in the past and the focus is on a team winning something rather than an individual issue that occurred during a series. That’s why you want all these series to play out. You don’t want it because somebody made an error or made the wrong pitch. You want it to come out to be more about the success of the 25 guys, the manager, the coaching staff, the organization and they found a way to win versus being blamed for the loss.”

In the space of a few days, what looked like a job-ending mistake is now the basis for a “we battled adversity and came together as a team” narrative. It’s rare enough for the New York Yankees to be cast in that sort of role — when they win it’s because they’re supposed to win, not because they overcame anything — yet here we are.

Has any manager experienced such a dramatic change of fortune in so short a period of time as Joe Girardi has? I can’t think of one. It’s almost enough to make you think that all of this — the comeback and the redemption — is being written in advance someplace rather than just playing out in real time.

The Adam Eaton/Todd Frazier feud continues

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Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton and Mets third baseman Todd Frazier had to be separated in between innings yesterday in New York, MASN’s Dan Kolko reported. Nothing happened other than an exchange of words, but it continued a years-long beef between the two players.

Julia Karron of NBC Sports Washington chronicled the Eaton-Frazier history. Things began in 2016 when Eaton tried to step up as the leader of a rebuilding White Sox team, but Frazier — whose locker was next to Eaton’s — wasn’t buying it. The two came to blows in the clubhouse and had to be separated.

In 2018, Eaton slid hard into second baseman Phillip Evans, injuring Evans in the process. The Mets were upset that their player was injured and felt Eaton had violated the “Chase Utley rule.” Later that month, the Mets exacted revenge as Zack Wheeler threw at Eaton. He missed and Eaton ended up walking. As Eaton made his way to first base, Frazier yelled some choice words across the diamond. After the game, Eaton said of Frazier, “When he usually talks or chips, usually he says it just loud enough that you can hear him but you can’t understand him. So I’ll just leave it at that.” Eaton was hit in the hip by a Wheeler pitch later in the game. MLB found Eaton’s slide to be legal.

After Monday’s game, Eaton said of Frazier (via NBC Sports Washington), “He must really like me cause he wants to get my attention seems like every time we come here.”

Meanwhile, Frazier said to the media (via Yahoo’s Matt Ehalt), “You ask guys when I played for the White Sox in 2016, ask all 23 of those guys, they know what happened, for (Eaton) to even talk after that, I don’t know how you talk after that.” Frazier continued, “Men usually settle it on the field, they don’t need to talk about it. He started it, coming at me with that kind of, I’m a man, I got a mortgage to pay, two kids. Pay off your mortgage, I don’t know what to tell you.” He added, “Immaturity. If you know Adam, like every team he’s been on, you hear what people say, you understand it. I was part of it for a year and a half.”

Can we just get these guys a reality TV show already?