Joe Girardi is 54-year-old, Girardi works as an analyst for MLB Network. Baseball is back in the 2020 Summer Olympics to be staged in Japan, and Joe Girardi is back as manager of Team USA, with the ultimate goal of gaining a berth and then winning the tournament. Olympic Baseball Fanatics can book Olympic Baseball Tickets Online from our most economical online ticketing market place.
“I look onward to leading Team USA as we struggle for a gold medal and look to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” he said in a statement.”
Girardi hasn’t managed since he was unceremoniously dumped by the New York Yankees after their seven-game loss to the Houston Astros in the 2017 American League Championship Series, replaced by the untried and inexperienced Aaron Boone.
He’s been a television baseball analyst since then, but managing is certainly in his blood. He was a very good one, winning the 2009 World Series as manager of the Yankees, and was named National League Manager of the Year in 2006 after his short stay with the then Florida Marlins. He was fired after that one season.
Girardi had a .562 winning percentage for his 10-year New York tenure, the highest of anyone managing in his era. As a former catcher, his ability to manage a bullpen and a pitching staff were second only to Bruce Bochy, now ending his 13-year stint with the San Francisco Giants and 25 years consecutive managing the Giants and San Diego Padres, who could still use him.
It would have been nice to have seen how Girardi might have fared with 2018, 100-win Yankees, who lost to Boston in a four-game AL Division Series when the pitching staff collapsed.
Boone has done a magnificent job this season patching together the often-injured Yankees, running away with the AL East. But manipulating a pitching staff is not his greatest attribute.
Be that as it may, Girardi is back in the game. And though he said Thursday morning during a short conference call that he’s not using his new job as a stepping stone to get back to the Majors, it certainly won’t hurt.
He’s following some greats as manager of the U.S. Olympic baseball team: Hall of Famers Tommy Lasorda and the late Frank Robinson, plus Davey Johnson, all had the job with many different results.
The Los Angeles Dodgers great managed the 2000 Team USA to its only Olympic gold medal in Sydney, Australia.
So just as when Girardi replaced Joe Torre as manager of the Yankees in 2008 after 12 consecutive playoff seasons, four World Series titles and six AL pennants, Girardi knows he has big shoes to fill.
“As far as following in some people’s footsteps, Tommy Lasorda has been a great ambassador for this game for a long, long time,” Girardi said about the now 91-year-old Lasorda who’s still a consultant for the Dodgers. “Whether it was a professional baseball or Olympic baseball.
“I had a chance to see Tommy last winter at the Italian American Hall of Fame. It was really an honor to see him. I hadn’t seen him in a while. Tommy has carried the torch for a long time so to follow in his footsteps is really pretty amazing.”
But there are just six teams going to this abbreviated 2020 Olympic baseball tournament and the U.S. must qualify first. As the host country, Japan earns an automatic spot.
The route this time begins with a qualifying tournament this coming Nov. 2-17. The U.S. will face tough teams from host Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and The Netherlands in the preliminary round at Guadalajara, Mexico.
Failing to qualify was a fate that befell Robinson’s team in 2003 when the U.S. lost a single-elimination game to Mexico during a preliminary round in hot and rainy Panama. Thus, the U.S. was not represented in its native sport during the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, where Cuba won it all.
Baseball hasn’t been in the Olympics since 2008 when South Korea won the gold and the U.S. captured the bronze under Johnson as a manager in Beijing, China.
The sport was dropped by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ostensibly because Major League Baseball refuses to send its top players, a la the NBA and NHL.
For the NBA, it’s easy since the Summer Olympics are staged every four years during pro basketball’s offseason.
The NHL has taken two-week breaks in its own regular season for the Winter Olympics to accommodate the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Because of that, hockey and basketball always provide premier medal tournaments as countries around the world have become increasingly stronger.
Not so for Major League Baseball, which won’t take a break in its regular season to accommodate the Olympics and will still decline to send its best players, Girardi confirmed.
Baseball is back for the 2020 Olympics because the host country gets to pick a few of its own sports. And Nippon Professional Baseball is as big in Japan as MLB is in North America.
The Japanese have found a way around this problem by taking two players off the teams of each NPB team to stock its Olympic roster. NPB neither has to take a break in the season nor compromise the integrity of that season.
The Olympics and international baseball are the big winners. The future of baseball as an Olympic sport is uncertain beyond 2020 largely because MLB won’t change its stance.
“The player pool we’ll be picking from is known-40-man roster players,” Girardi said. “And we’re going to put together the best we can. That could include some young guys who have just signed and are very, very talented, and that could include some old guys who’ve been in the big leagues and taken off the 40-man rosters.”
“We have scouts all over the place looking to put this team together. We’re going to meet and talk about it and put the best team together we can.”
Perhaps just as important, Girardi said he’s committed to managing the club from Guadalajara to Tokyo, with one caveat: If a Major League team is interested in bringing him back into the fold, he can at least listen.
“I will hear them out. I have permission to hear them out,” he said.
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