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1989 Cubs Historical Heroes and Goats: Part 20

The Cubs look to cement their hold on the division lead

Joe Girardi
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When last we checked in on the 1989 Cubs, they were finishing a stretch where they played 18 games in 17 days. They came passed that test with flying colors, winning 13 of them. Looking at an even larger chunk of games, they won 20 of 28. That was enough to move into first place and to build a division lead of 2½ games. Specifically, they swept the Expos to start the previous week. The Expos had been the front runner for months, but the Cubs won the battle of two surprising contenders. For the Expos, it was the start of a return to Earth, and for the Cubs, it was the launching.

But the launch wasn’t to be without some stumbles. This week, (spoiler alert!) we’ll see some of those stumbles. My continuing theme for looking at these 1989 Cubs is: Though we know where it ends, I assure you this wasn’t a team that had a straight line to the top.

This week, we’ll look at six games as mid-August drifts towards late August and the postseason light was becoming visible at the end of the tunnel. This particular week of the schedule all occurs on the road. After a Monday off day, the Cubs were in Cincinnati on Tuesday and then Houston on Friday for a pair of three game sets.

Let’s get to the action.

Game 119, August 15: Cubs 5 at Reds 2 (69-50)

One of the best ways to win on the road is to jump out to an early lead. The Cubs accomplished that when Dwight Smith hit a two-out solo homer in the first.

Another good way is to get a strong pitching performance. It initially looked like the Cubs would get that too as Greg Maddux threw two perfect innings to start the game. But then the bottom of the Reds lineup got something going in the third. Jeff Reed and Ron Oester had back-to-back singles to start the inning and then in a disaster scenario, Maddux hit his counterpart Rick Mahler to load the bases with no outs.

Maddux did draw a grounder to first, but the only out was recorded at first and a run scored, tying the game. The uncharacteristic Maddux inning continued with a wild pitch and then a walk. That gave the Reds a 2-1 lead. A strikeout looked to limit the damage. But then Ken Griffey, Sr. drew another walk that led to a most unusual end to the inning. Ball four got away and Mahler looked to score from third. But Damon Berryhill’s throw to Maddux got him at the plate.

The Reds just might have cost themselves a victory with their aggressiveness against a struggling Maddux. Of course, as the summer went on, Greg was getting stronger and stronger and one can’t be blamed for trying to take advantage while he was “off.”

The game was still 2-1 into the seventh inning. That’s when Shawon Dunston led off with a single. Maddux sacrificed him to second. A Jerome Walton flyout moved him along to third. This was a spot where small ball worked like a charm. Mahler uncorked a wild pitch and the game was tied.

That was it for Mahler and the Reds turned to their nasty bullpen featuring Rob Dibble (one batter, a walk), Norm Charlton (8 batters, one walk) and John Franco (8 batters, one single, one walk) to get through 3⅓ scoreless innings. The Cubs also used their bullpen to effect after Maddux departed following eight innings with just those two second inning runs. Les Lancaster faced eight batters in two innings of work, yielding two hits. Then Mitch Williams threw a perfect 11th and the game headed to the 12th tied at two.

Mike Roesler was summoned to pitch the 12th for the Reds. He allowed a leadoff single to Jerome Walton to extend his hitting streak to 25 games. It is possible that this single won a Rookie of the Year award. Walton was erased in a fielder’s choice. That put Ryne Sandberg on first, but then Sandberg was caught stealing. So the Cubs had no one on and two outs. That’s when Mitch Webster and Mark Grace drew a pair of walks to get Andre Dawson to the plate. Dawson launched a three-run homer that would be the game winner.

Mitch Williams threw a perfect 12th that ends up being a win since he had also thrown the 11th. The Cubs returned to a season-high of 19 games over .500.

  • Superhero: Andre Dawson (.351). 1-5, HR, BB, 3RBI, R
  • Hero: Les Lancaster (.264). 2IP (8 batters), 2H, K
  • Sidekick: Mitch Williams (.170). 2IP (6 batters), 2K (W 2-2)
  • Billy Goat: Ryne Sandberg (-.230). 0-4, 2BB, K, CS
  • Goat: Damon Berryhill (-.172). 2-6
  • Kid: Darrin Jackson (-.083). 0-2, K

Game 120, August 16: Cubs 5 at Reds 1 (70-50)

Jerome Walton waited until the 12th inning the day before to extend his hitting streak to 25. But then he extended again to 26 in his first at bat the next day when he led off the game with a single. After a groundout moved him to second, he was still there after a strikeout for the second out. Walton then stole second during an at bat that ended with a Mark Grace walked. Andre Dawson followed with a single and gave the Cubs an early lead.

Mike Bielecki twirled three perfect innings to start this one, but the Cubs failed to cash in on a couple of opportunities and it was still only 1-0 Cubs heading to the bottom of the fourth. Luis Quinones led off the fourth with a double, advanced to third on a sacrifice and then scored on an Eric Davis single.

The game was still tied at one heading to the sixth. That’s when Dawson delivered again with a one-out, solo homer off of Reds starter Tim Leary, that for the second day put the Cubs ahead to stay. The Cubs weren’t done though. Damon Berryhill followed with a single and then Vance Law with a double. Shawon Dunston drew a walk to load the bases. Bielecki delivered a successful squeeze bunt for the Cubs third run. Walton capped the four-run inning with a two-run double.

Bielecki threw eight strong innings and Steve Wilson was able to close it out, saving the big two relievers (Les Lancaster and Mitch Williams). With the win, the Cubs reached a new plateau at 20 games over .500.

  • Superhero: Mike Bielecki (.235). 8IP (28 batters), 3H, BB, R, 8K (W 14-5)
  • Hero: Andre Dawson (.213). 3-5, HR, 2RBI, R
  • Sidekick: Jerome Walton (.116). 3-5, 2B, 2RBI, R
  • Billy Goat: Mark Grace (-.050). 1-4, BB
  • Goat: Dwight Smith (-.048). 0-4, BB, 4K
  • Kid: Vance Law (-.008). 1-5, 2B, R, K

Game 121, August 17: Cubs 3, Reds 2 (71-50)

Once again, Jerome Walton provided instant offense, bunting for a hit to start the game and advancing to second on a wild throw. That extended his hitting streak to 27 games. A pair of ground outs, the second by Dwight Smith gave the Cubs an early lead without a single ball leaving the infield.

The teams traded a number of unsuccessful scoring opportunities over the next several innings, but the Cubs were still leading 1-0 with Rick Sutcliffe on the mound heading to the bottom of the eighth. The Reds got a leadoff single by Dave Collins, then tried some small ball of their own. A sacrifice and a flyout put Collins on third with two outs and brought Eric Davis to the plate. But then big ball gave the Reds a lead when Davis hit a two-out, two-run homer.

The Reds were building a formidable bullpen and Rob Dibble had already thrown a perfect eighth inning and then they handed the ball to John Franco for the ninth. Entering the 1989 season, John Franco was in his sixth season as the Reds closer. He’d saved 116 games in 333 lifetime appearances. Franco was one of those guys who was always a reliever in the majors and recorded 16 saves over his first two seasons in the majors and then was a full time closer by the third, saving 29 games. He would save 32 games in 1989 on a bad Reds team. He was on his way to 424 lifetime saves.

All of this is to say that things were looking bleak for the Cubs, looking for the three game sweep. When Andre Dawson and Damon Berryhill were retired to start the inning, this one looked done. Fangraphs lists the probability for the Cubs to win at that point at 3.5 percent. Let’s be clear, those numbers are static and solely represent the odds of a team winning when trailing by one with two outs in the ninth inning. It does technically take into account being on the road because it recognizes that a run in that situation is not a walkoff. But it doesn’t take into account any home field advantage. We’ll assume that in 1989 that the Reds coming into the game 27 games under .500 didn’t have any significant edge that way. But, not all one-run deficits with two outs in the ninth are created equally. Franco was already one of the best in the business and the Cubs had already passed the middle of their order.

Alas, Vance Law drew a walk to keep the game alive (7.6 percent chance of winning). Curtis Wilkerson ran for Law and moved to second on a single by Shawon Dunston (13.7 percent). Lloyd McClendon then drew a pinch hit walk (22.8). That brought Jerome Walton to the plate. Walton delivered a two-run single and propelled the Cubs to a very unlikely come from behind win.

Mitch Williams worked around a leadoff single to record his 31st save. With the three game sweep, the Cubs reached 21 games over .500 for the first time.

  • Superhero: Jerome Walton (.562). 2-5, 2RBI, R

*5th largest positive WPA score of the season for the Cubs

  • Hero: Mitch Williams (.191). IP (4 batters), H, 2K (Sv 31)
  • Sidekick: Lloyd McClendon (.091). BB
  • Billy Goat: Damon Berryhill (-.104). 0-3, BB
  • Goat: Andre Dawson (-.103). 0-3, BB
  • Kid: Rick Sutcliffe (-.061). 8IP (31 batters), 5H, 3BB, 2R, 7K (W 13-9)

Game 122, August 18: Astros 6, Cubs 5 (71-51)

Andre Dawson singled with one out in the second, stole second after a strikeout for the second out and then scored on a Vance Law double to give the Cubs an early lead. In the third inning, they tacked on when Jerome Walton singled to extend his hitting streak to 28 games. Ryne Sandberg followed with an RBI triple and then scored on a Dwight Smith ground out. The Cubs were cruising with a 3-0 lead after their half of the third.

They kept adding in the fourth. Law led off the inning with a double and then scored on a Shawon Dunston triple. After a strikeout, Jerome Walton drove in the Cubs fifth run with a sacrifice fly.

These are the games where using a header for the score feels like a horrible spoiler alert. Needless to say, you expect to win most of the games where you lead 5-0 in the fourth, even when on the road. Fangraphs estimates that on average a team in 1989 would win about 92 percent of the time in this situation. Alas, it gets worse from here.

With one out in the fifth, Glenn Davis and Terry Puhl delivered back-to-back singles off of Cubs starter Scott Sanderson. Kevin Bass doubled scoring the Astros first run, but Dwight Smith recorded an outfield assist when Puhl tried to score from first. That preserved a four run lead after four.

After the Cubs threatened in the fifth but failed to cash in, the Astros got right back at it. Rafael Ramirez singled and Craig Reynolds followed with a double. Gerald drew a walk to load the bases with one out. Les Lancaster was summoned and a foul out, a Craig Biggio sacrifice fly and a strikeout later, the Cubs were out of the fifth leading by three.

Lancaster was still on the hill when the eighth started despite having allowed a couple of singles and a walk along the way. He surrendered a Davis homer to start the eighth. Puhl followed with a single and that was it for Lancaster. This was clearly an urgency day for Don Zimmer. He relieved Lancaster with Mitch Williams with no outs in the eighth. That expended both of the Cubs leverage relievers.

Williams did induce a grounder that resulted in a fielder’s choice for the first out but then Billy Hatcher doubled to cut the Cubs’ lead to two. That was it for Williams and Calvin Schiraldi followed. A scoring oddity then followed. Schiraldi entered mid batter on Ramirez. He threw a wild pitch, scoring a run. The wild pitch is charged to Schiraldi. But Ramirez walked. The walk was charged to Williams. So in the Fangraphs WPA box, it looks like Schiraldi recorded a result before he entered the game. Schiraldi escaped the inning and the Cubs went to the ninth with a lead.

Bill Doran led off the ninth with a double off of Schiraldi. Future Hall of Famer Biggio followed with a sacrifice bunt. Davis then doubled and the game was tied. That was it for Schiraldi and Steve Wilson was summoned. He got the second out of the inning and then issued an intentional walk to Bass. The Cubs then brought in Jeff Pico who proceeded to intentionally walk to Harry Spilman.

A couple of side notes. First, despite Spilman’s entire career taking place in the NL and more than half of a 10-year career coinciding with my most active time watching baseball, I do not him remember at all. He was always a backup and always played in the NL West. Still surprised I don’t even remember him from a baseball card. Second, this was the old rules. I was one of many who just hated to summon a pitcher to deliver an intentional walk. You had to throw the pitches and then you had to bear down with the bases loaded and the game on the line.

The walks brought Ramirez to the plate. If you haven’t had enough spoilers by now, I don’t know what more I could have done. Ramirez lined a single and the Astros walked it off.

As I said, Zimmer managed this one with some urgency. Obviously, with Sanderson on the hill, a short leash applied. Lancaster had a number of three inning outings that year as a former starter. So it wasn’t insane for Zimmer to go to him in the fifth. But, trying for a fourth inning? That probably wasn’t ideal. But Les did go 4⅔ scoreless innings, facing 17 batters in a June game against the Giants. The year before, Lancaster had one complete game. So again, not a pitcher who couldn’t throw multiple innings.

These are the kind of games that really sting. Sometimes, this kind of loss can have a carryover effect.

  • Superhero: Vance Law (.129). 2-4, 2-2B, RBI, R, K
  • Hero: Ryne Sandberg (.121). 1-4, 3B, RBI, R
  • Sidekick: Les Lancaster (.106). 3 IP (13 batters), 4H, BB, 2R, K
  • Billy Goat: Jeff Pico (-.393). 0IP (2 batters), H, BB
  • Goat: Calvin Schiraldi (-.294). IP (5 batters), 2H, 2R, WP (L 3-5)
  • Kid: Mitch Williams (-.140). ⅓ IP (3 batters), H, BB

Game 123, August 19: Astros 8, Cubs 4 (71-52)

Momentum is as good as the next night’s starter, right? Well, with future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux on the hill, the Cubs looked good on paper not to let the previous night linger. But even Maddux just didn’t have it at times.

Gerald Young started the game with a double and then Bill Doran followed with one of his own and before Maddux had recorded an out, the Astros were on the board. A passed ball and strikeout followed. Then Glenn Davis delivered an RBI single to put the Astros up two.

The Cubs bounced back quickly though. Grace led off the second with a solo homer. Two outs later a Shawon Dunston single and a Joe Girardi double combined to tie the game at two. Then in the third, Ryne Sandberg drew a one out walk. One out later, Grace singled and then Andre Dawson added an RBI-single for the Cubs’ third run.

Davis continued a big series with a solo homer off of Maddux in the fourth to tie the game. In the sixth with the game still tied, Kevin Bass and Davis had back-to-back singles to start the inning. One out later, the late Ken Caminiti was walked to load the bases. One out later, Greg Maddux delivered a bases load walk to Alex Trevino and the Astros were back in front.

After burning most of the bullpen the night before, the Cubs used Paul Kilgus to start the seventh. Paul allowed a single to Young who was then caught stealing. A walk was then issued to Bill Doran. Bass followed with an RBI double and that was it for Kilgus. Jeff Pico followed. Pico retired the first batter he faced but then Glenn Wilson followed with an RBI-double of his own. Another intentional walk to Caminiti was issued and then Rafael Ramirez delivered an RBI single and it was 7-3.

The Cubs did get one back on when Grace had his second homer of the game. This was the first of three two-homer games in Grace’s career. Pico allowed the eighth and final run on a Young single and Doran double.

The Cubs dropped their second straight and dipped below the 20 games over .500 mark.

  • Superhero: Joe Girardi (.130). 2-4, 2B, RBI, SB, K
  • Hero: Mark Grace (.117). 3-4, 2HR, 2RBI, 2R
  • Sidekick: Andre Dawson (.054). 1-4, RBI
  • Billy Goat: Greg Maddux (-.216). 6IP (27 batters), 8H, 2BB, 4R, 3K (L 14-9)
  • Goat: Paul Kilgus (-.107). ⅓ IP (3 batters), H, BB
  • Kid: Jeff Pico (-.078). IP (8 batters), 4H, BB, 2R

Game 124, August 20: Astros 8, Cubs 4 (71-53)

This game made it to the bottom of the second scoreless. That’s when Craig Biggio tripled with one out off of Cubs starter Mike Bielecki. Ken Caminiti followed with a walk and a Rafael Ramirez sacrifice fly produced the first run. Kevin Bass pushed the lead to two with a solo homer in the third.

In the fourth, the Cubs got their first run. Mitch Webster led off with a single, one out later, he stole second as Shawon Dunston was striking out. Biggio, who was a catcher in those days, overthrew second allowing Webster to move up to third. Joe Girardi came through with a two-out, RBI double.

Then in the fifth, Ryne Sandberg and Dwight Smith had a pair of one-out singles. A grounder off of the bat of Mark Grace led to the second out, but also a game tying second run.

Gerald Young singled and Bill Doran doubled to start the Astros fifth. One out later, Glenn Davis was intentionally walked. Glenn Wilson then grounded into a fielder’s choice for the Astros third run.

The Astros just kept adding. Caminti led off the sixth with a single. A ground out and a strikeout put him at second with two outs. That’s where he was when Young delivered an RBI-single.

Ryne Sandberg got one back for the Cubs with a leadoff solo homer against Mike Scott who was still pitching into the seventh. That cut the deficit to one. Two innings later, Sandberg would add a dramatic, game-tying homer off of Danny Darwin with two outs.

To the bottom of the ninth the game went. Les Lancaster had retired the final batter in the seventh. He induced a double play off of the bat of Caminiti and faced the minimum three batters in the eighth. He was still on the hill to start the ninth and he walked Rafael Ramirez. At that point, Don Zimmer summoned his closer Mitch Williams. Williams walked Craig Reynolds and then hit Young to load the bases with nobody out.

Williams recovered to strikeout Doran to kindle some hope of a Houdini act. That brought Bass to the plate who hit his second homer of the game, this one a walk-off grand slam. In that situation, the slam is almost an after thought. Once Bass got a ball elevated, the game was going to end regardless. But then it sailed into the stands and made this one look a lot less close than it actually was.

  • Superhero: Ryne Sandberg (.523). 3-5, 2HR, BB, 2RBI, 3R

*This was the seventh biggest positive WPA game score of the season for the Cubs

  • Honorable Mention: Mike Bielecki (.052). 2-3, SB
  • Hero: Joe Girardi (.051). 1-4, 2B, RBI, K
  • Sidekick: Steve Wilson (.042). IP (2 batters), K
  • Billy Goat: Mitch Williams (-.297). ⅓IP (4 batters), H, BB, 3R, K, HBP
  • Goat: Mike Bielecki (-.254). 5⅔ IP (28 batters), 9H, 3BB, 4R, 3K
  • Kid: Vance Law (-.173). 1-4, K

A trip that started out so promising with a sweep in Cincinnati ends with a thud getting swept in Houston. Al has written a lot of words about the horrors for the Cubs playing in the Astrodome where they were still playing until 2000. This was no exception. To be fair, in 1989, the Cubs actually split six games there. They swept a series there in May.

In a roller coaster week, the Cubs started the week 2½ games in first place. The lead swelled to 4½ during the sweep of the Reds. But then it drifted back down to 2½ games after being swept by the Astros.

Next week, we’ll look at one of the most remarkable homestands in Cubs history. They’ll have six games at home, still playing against NL West foes. First it’ll be the Braves for three and then a rematch with the Astros. This is a homestand that will see three walk off victories and perhaps my favorite regular season game in Cubs history.

The Streak

Jerome Walton hit safely in all six games of the trip. That brought him to the 30-game plateau where the streak would end. I have so many conflicting thoughts on hitting streaks. Pretty clearly they are a counting stat. Something that baseball romanticized for so many decades. Over the years, we’ve gotten better at analyzing baseball and the emphasis of counting stats have declined. Is a 20-game hitting streak that much better than a 20 win season for a pitcher? We deride the second one as being somewhat meaningless because the pitcher may play on a juggernaut team. He may win some games with softball scores rather than with shutouts. He may only throw five innings in a handful of games. But what about the hitting streak that may have been extended by a broken bat grounder that dies in the Bermuda triangle on the left side between third baseman, catcher and pitcher.

I can’t look at box scores and tell you how many times Walton extended his on a play of that caliber. I know multiple times it was extended on bunt singles. To be fair, that was a strong weapon in the arsenal of Walton. He and Shawon Dunston each deployed the bunt as an offensive weapon a lot that season and I wouldn’t want to take that credit away from either of them. They did it so frequently that you know the defense was expecting it. And they had some success with it just the same.

But this streak was definitely extended to 25 games on a single in the 12th. Singles in the 12th certainly don’t count any less. Indeed, though Walton was erased on a fielder’s choice, he started the chain of events that led to a Cubs win. Let’s look at some numbers regarding the streak:

  • Walton full season numbers: 515 plate appearances; .293/.335/.385, wRC+ 103
  • Walton 30 game hitting streak numbers: 142 PA; .338/.352/.449, wRC+ 124
  • Walton games 1-24: 111 PA; .349/.369/.481, wRC+ 140
  • Walton games 25-30: 31 PA; .300/.290/.333, wRC+ 69

Neither the Reds nor the Astros that season were particularly loaded with pitching talent. There were definitely some good pitchers and some good performances over that time. But Walton was either wearing down or the pressure of the situation was getting to him. Or, of course, he hit into some bad luck that week.

A pitcher can’t win 15 games by accident. A hitter can’t have a hitting streak of 15 games either. In either instance, they were doing their job well over an extended period of time. In both instances there is likely some sequencing and some luck involved.

Jerome Walton had a fine season. Not just for a rookie, but for any hitter. A wRC+ above 100 says that he provided plus production. He offered good speed and was a weapon at the top of the lineup. You never want to compare a player outside of their own era. I don’t know how many teams would have a player like Jerome batting first in the modern game. That .335 on base just doesn’t pop, particularly for a player with essentially no power. Certainly, even today that’s a strong enough season to justify being in the lineup, but I suspect that would be an eighth or ninth hitter today. And that might get him one less plate appearance in some of those games and then maybe that streak doesn’t make it to 30. In 1989, absent their own very productive leadoff hitter of their own, all 30 teams would be happy to have used that season’s Walton at the top of their lineup. He was great within the strategy of the times.

I believe that streak won Walton the Rookie of the Year award. Kudos to him. But let’s look at those numbers again and then look at them side-by-side with teammate Dwight Smith.

  • Walton full season numbers: 515 plate appearances; .293/.335/.385, wRC+ 103
  • Smith full season numbers: 381 PA; .324/.382/.493, wRC+ 148

Walton produced 2.0 fWAR while Smith produced 2.5. This is definitely that looking at players through the eyes of our modern evaluating methods. But essentially Walton won on counting stats. He played more and had that hitting streak. But Smith was much more productive. But Walton didn’t win all of the counting stats. Smith had more triples, homers, RBI, and even walks. Smith only scored 12 less runs and had four less doubles in over 100 less plate appearances. At 141, Smith had the highest OPS+ on the ‘89 Cubs.

I believe that Smith was the player that put that team over the top. Because of that, I believe that he should have been the Rookie of the Year. Walton’s season is certainly praise worthy and undoubtedly, the Cubs needed his bat, particularly early in the year when the Cubs outfield was in flux. But there is a reason we’ve shifted our understanding of players. The things that Smith did well help teams win games. Elite speed doesn’t turn out to be super valuable without a remarkable on base percentage. Walton’s was above average, but not game changing.

If the Cubs game in Cincinnati on August 15 doesn’t reach the 12th and Walton’s hitting streak dies at 24, is he still an award winner? I suspect not.

1989 Cubs Historical Heroes and Goats Player of the Week: Joe Girardi

Joe feels like one of those Cubs I don’t need to give as much background on. Many will remember he had two stints with the club and from his many years as a very successful manager. But, we should give him his due. Let’s look at the career on and off the field for Girardi.

Joe was drafted by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 1986 draft. Born in Peoria, Illinois, Joe elected to go to Northwestern rather than playing for his local college where both of my daughters have gone to school, Bradley. Joe was a 24-year-old rookie when he reached the majors with the Cubs in 1989. That season he played in 59 games, receiving 172 plate appearances. He produced a line of .248/.304/.331. He did make the postseason roster and played in four games there, getting 12 plate appearances yielding a hit and a walk.

Joe was with the Cubs through the ‘92 season. In 1990, he was the team’s primary catcher, appearing in 133 games with a .644 OPS. He was back to the number two role the following two years and then was selected by the Rockies in the expansion draft.

Joe played three seasons in Colorado. The first two of those he was a half time catcher but then he was the starter his final season there, a season that saw the Rockies reach the postseason. That would be the first of five consecutive seasons Joe would reach the post season. of course, four of those would be with the Yankees and three of them would culminate with World Series championships.

Joe was a starter two of those years in New York and received a fair bit of playing time in the other two. But he never really was much of an offensive weapon. With a spooky looking career OPS of .666, he hung around for 15 big league seasons amassing 1,277 games and 4,535 plate appearances.

Arguably the best offensive season of his career came in 2000. That was the year he came back to the Cubs. He had a line of .278/.339/.375 and made his lone All-Star appearance.

Girardi caught a no-hitter (Dwight Gooden), a perfect game (David Cone), and had a key RBI triple for the Yankees in the 1996 World Series against Greg Maddux. Strangely, my strongest memory was of the game that never happened in 2002. With the Cardinals at Wrigley Field for what was to be a nationally televised game, Daryl Kyle was found dead before the game. Just before the game. The fans were already assembling at the park for what would have, of course, been a packed house for the Cubs key rivalry game. Girardi was the one sent out to address the fans and send them home. That is the kind of experience that is fortunately once in a lifetime. Here’s Joe’s speech:

Joe would go on to become the manager of the Yankees. Of course, he did have one season as Marlins manager in 2006 that becomes a footnote though he was National League Manager of the Year. Giraradi spent 10 years as manager of the Yankees, winning 910 games with a .562 winning percentage. The club reached the postseason six times under his direction and won a World Series. Joe is now entering his third season managing the Phillies.

Girardi should move into the top 50 in all-time wins by a manager during the 2022 season. He will turn 58 later this year. While there is something a trend for younger managers in recent years in MLB. While definitely premature, at some point one will wonder if Joe is drifting towards the Hall of Fame. With three World Series wins as a player, playing for two of the most significant MLB franchises, winning a championship as a manager and at least a few chapters still to be written, I don’t think it can be ruled out. I’d imagine he still has work to do, though for anyone who has ever worn Yankee pinstripes, the road seems just a little shorter, the bar a little lower. Only time will tell.