Joe Girardi got his first taste of major-league media and fans in 1989, when he broke in with the Chicago Cubs as a 24-year-old catcher. That also was the heyday of coach Mike Ditka of the Chicago Bears. Da Coach. Now there was a guy who knew how to conduct a press conference. And when fans would add to the volatile mix and interrupt a Q&A, classic and enduring comedy would result.
So, what happened when Girardi the manager got interrupted Wednesday night by a heckler during a postgame press conference following a tough Yankees loss to the White Sox in Chicago?
A camera crew from CSN Chicago captured some of the heckling. The obnoxious fan, possibly emboldened because he had been imbibing, can be heard saying, "Yankees swept? Yes!" in the style of White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson, as he walked down a wide tunnel less than 50 feet away from the front door of the Yankees clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field. There, Girardi was going over the game's postmortem with New York's beat reporters. Girardi let the first salvo go as he chatted about a great performance by Chicago's Chris Sale, but when the fan opened his mouth again, Girardi broke the huddle and went after him:
"Hey, hey, hey, shut up. We're doing an interview!"
Girardi starts out Ditka-like as he starts chasing the man, but he ends up rebutting without following the interloper out of the stadium. A wise choice. Perhaps he stopped because Girardi mentally consulted The Binder, which lays out every possible scenario for a manager, as we all know.
Further, how deft was it on Girardi's part to return to the media scrum and pick up right where he left off? Never let them see you sweat, skip!
Postgame managerial pow-wows sometimes happen outside of the visitor's clubhouse in Chicago because the manager's office inside is kind of small. Plus, with the crush of media following the Yankees, it makes sense not to crowd everyone. This wasn't a big deal in the past, but the White Sox have changed how they let some fans in and out of the ballpark in recent seasons. People sitting in the pricey area right behind home plate (seats similar to the ones in Yankee Stadium you often see empty because they're too expensive) get their own entrance and exit. And it's close enough to the visitor's clubhouse that confrontations like this are possible.
You figure that the seats behind home plate would price out most of the William Ligue-types or other rowdies who have been known to run on the field and even attack players, coaches and umpires. Still, the Sox might want to add a layer of security by asking the paying customers to show even opponents a little more respect. Even the hated Yankees. It's a good thing, say, Ozzie Guillen wasn't managing the visiting team when something like this happened.
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