Joe Girardi is becoming more skillful by the day in treading choppy water and walking fine lines. He has consistently been fair in handling the question of whether Yankee fans were unfair in booing Javier Vazquez the one time they saw him this season.
The manager was supportive of his player while admiring the fans. He repeated the question, “Is it fair?” and answered only “It is what it is.”
Vazquez ’ reception in the Bronx is the only remotely hot button issue in a season that has instantly soared. Fans’ reaction to him will be a story whenever he pitches, even if he is on the other side of the continent, as he will be tonight, in Oakland. He thought his treatment last week was unfair, dating back to 2004, suggesting that maybe the issue is in his head. He acknowledged, in the Newsday story today, that his problem has been an overabundance of adrenaline.
Girardi knows the score. He recalled the other day that he was booed pretty hard when he first came to New York in 1996. It gave him pause because he never had experienced that from home fans, ever before in his life. He said he had a long talk with his wife, Kim, and other people about it and decided just to hang in there. Things finally turned around, he said, when he caught Dwight Gooden’s no-hitter in May of that season.
Now look at him. He became popular enough to have earned the job as Joe Torre’s successor and his success last season earned him even more acclaim.
His patience will help Vazquez (and by the way, it’s pronounced “Vaz-kezz,” not “Vaz-kwezz” as some people say). Statistics show Vazquez is a good pitcher. He’s a good guy, too. The bet here is that his relationship with folks in the stands at the Stadium will eventually be fine.