Many people will say that what one does in the regular season means nothing once the postseason comes around.
That has been the thought process of three playoff organizations in 2017. The Yankees, Red Sox and Nationals have all fired their managers after reaching the postseason this year. John Farrell of the Red Sox and Dusty Baker of the Nationals were let go after their teams fell in their respective league division series’, while Joe Girardi led his surprising Yankees team to Game 7 of the ALCS before falling to the Houston Astros.
These firings show that teams do not care what one has done in the past. It is a “win now or you’re gone” mentality, and in some cases it can be unfair.
The most glaring, and also questionable, firing this season is the dismissal of Girardi. The Yankees entered the 2017 season with low expectations, featuring a young roster and a pitching staff full of question marks. No one anticipated Aaron Judge to hit 52 home runs or for Luis Severino to become one of the top arms in the American League. It was a surprisingly successful year in the Bronx, to say the least.
However, Girardi was still fired. Girardi had been with the team since 2008 when he took over for legendary Yankee manager Joe Torre. Girardi proceeded to win 103 games in his second season at the helm, a year that resulted in a world championship. The Yankees also never had a losing season in Girardi’s 10 years.
Another World Series-winning manager who was fired was Farrell, whose five-year run in Boston ended soon after the Red Sox were ousted by Houston in the ALDS.
It was a rocky experience for Farrell in Boston. He followed up the World Series win with back-to-back last place finishes. However, on the tail end of things, he won back-to-back AL East titles in 2016 and 2017, something that had never occurred in the history of the franchise.
What doomed Farrell was all that came after that magical 2013 season. The last-place finishes were ugly and the two playoff berths resulted in just one playoff victory in seven games combined over the two seasons.
Put the whole media firestorm that brewed in Boston over the summer aside. Toward the end, Farrell did not produce enough meaningful results to excite President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski, and it led to his demise in Boston.
Then there is Dusty Baker, whose closest taste of the commissioner’s trophy came way back in 2002 with the Giants, as his team lost in the World Series in seven games. This time, Baker was in charge of the Nationals for just two seasons, leading the team to NL East titles in both seasons.
However, the Nationals have not won a playoff series since 1981, when they were still the Montreal Expos. They have now lost in five games in the NLDS in back-to-back seasons. Baker was given a short leash and he was unable to capitalize.
This short leash is given to many managers in Major League Baseball currently. It is a win-now mentality, which is not necessarily a bad thing. In terms of managers like Baker, who was in a tough spot to begin with given the organization’s desperation for a playoff series win, or for Farrell, whose club has one playoff win since winning it all in 2013, this bit them in the end.
With managers such as Girardi, things get a bit hazy. The team had low expectations and it massively overachieved, but at the end of the day it is New York, where you win or you are out. Girardi’s firing shows that this league’s managerial landscape is as cutthroat as it has ever been.
It may be internal problems that led to these managers being let go, but leading one’s team to the postseason is no longer enough. If you don’t win the World Series, you are in danger of getting fired, plain and simple.
Matt Ambrose is a journalism major from Exeter, N.H. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mambrose97.