Tuesday, December 19, 2006

MSD Top 10 Miami Sports Stories of 2006: Number 10.

Well, it’s late December which means it’s the time for television shows, magazines, websites and blogs to present their obligatory 2006 Best Of … lists. And the MSD is no exception. So, here is the Miami Sports Dude’s Top 10 Miami Sports Stories of 2006. I’ll be counting down the top ten from 10 to 1 in the next two weeks. And remember, there is to be no wagering of any kind ... and now, on with the countdown ...

#10. Joe Gets Manager of The Year … Joe Gets Canned

It was the equivalency of a fight we’ve all seen (or experienced) in high school. Two “tough” guys squaring off, circling each other, jerking their shoulders, waiting for the other to take the first swing and saying, “Come on … come on … do something … do something.”

And it was between the owner of a Major League baseball team and the team’s manager.

The story is a bit hazy. But former Marlin’s manager Joe Girardi and Marlins owner Jeffery Loria had themselves a verbal bitch fight and it cost Girardi his job, even though he led the Marlins to a very surprising 78-84 record and a 4th place finish in the National League East – when the rest of the world had them finishing dead last in the entire league. And that won him a very deserving NL Manager of the Year award. So what does he get for his fine effort as a first year manager? He gets fired. And when it comes down to it, how could we have not seen this coming?

It was very much the sports version of the Pamela Anderson-Kid Rock marriage. Except not as white trash. And without gigantic fake breasts. Or a Best Man toast made with Budweiser instead of champagne. And there was no exchanging of hepatitis between the couple …

Point being, it was a marriage doomed from the start.

Girardi is one of those old school managers that gets military style hair cuts, works out 5 hours a day, talks tough to the media, doesn’t allow shenanigans in his club house, doesn’t allow his players to have facial hair of any kind -- Keith Hernandez be damned -- and likes to bunt every other batter even when there are 2 outs. And Marlins owner Loria is just batshit insane.

Allegedly, it all started when an umpire made a bad call during a game against Florida which caused Loria to verbally attack said umpire from the stands. Girardi then apparently walked up the steps of the dugout and basically told Loria to shut his pie hole. This did not go over well as you can imagine. And it started a string of weeks where neither would speak to one another and whispers of Loria throwing a temper tantrum and virtually saying, “No one tells me to shut up! I’m the owner! I have a massive art collection!”

And so in the final months of the season, the verbal attacks were lobbed at each other between intermediaries. Loria kept threatening to fire Giraridi while Girardi kept saying he “has a job to do,” and making suggestions that the job of the owner is to sign checks and that’s it. And every Marlins fan wondered if Loria was crazy enough to fire the guy who led his band of cheap-contract-players-who-are-Marlins-for-life-until-they-become-stars-in-which-case-they’ll-be-traded-to-the-Mets-for-more-cheap-contract-players to an improbable season. After all, under Girardi’s first season, the Marlins had a pitcher, Anibal Sanchez, throw a no-hitter, their shortstop Hanley Ramirez, win Rookie of the Year and guys named Dan Uggla became house hold names. Why would you fire a manager after all these achievements?

Because no one tells Loria to shut up. He’s the owner. And he has a massive art collection.

It was the epitome of the craziness that tends to surround Miami sports. A manager wins the Manager of the Year and then gets the shaft.

Go Fish!

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