Marlins: Stuck On Stupid

In a move that surprised absolutely no one, the Florida Marlins have fired manager Joe Girardi after one season of his three-year contract. This happened despite the fact that Girardi is likely to win the National League Manager of the Year for his heroic achievement of keeping the Marlins in the N.L. wild card race well into September, even though the team had the league's lowest payroll and was largely made up of untested rookies. The team started a horrific 11-31, and it appeared that the prognosticators who had predicted that the Marlins would have the league's worst record were well on the way to being correct. But Girardi helped turn the team's fortunes around, and the Marlins briefly went over .500 in September and were contenders for a wild card playoff berth until a late-season slump. They finished at 78-84, much better than anyone had hoped at the beginning of the season.

So why fire Girardi? Because he had disagreements with the general manager and the owner, including one memorable case where the owner, Jeff Loria, was arguing with the umpire from his box and Girardi told Loria to knock it off because he wasn't helping. Needless to say, almost all sports team owners are self-absorbed egomaniacs to some degree (See Steinbrenner, George; Cuban, Mark; etc.), and Loria was no exception. How dare this, this hireling!, tell him to shut up! At that point, Girardi's fate was sealed, even if the team had managed to sneak into the playoffs and then win the World Series, as they did the last two times they won the wild card berth.

Let's be honest: Girardi did one helluva job getting the young Marlins to play as well as they did and to stay in contention in an admittedly weak National League for as long as they did. Will new manager Fredi Gonzalez be able to do as well? It remains to be seen. The Marlins' loss will be someone else's gain, however, and I expect that Girardi won't be unemployed for very long. He's a Chicago native, so don't be surprised if he ends up managing the Cubs next year.