Girardi's failure to own his mistake could cost him his job

Bryan Mcwilliam
Brad Penner / USA TODAY Sports

"Own your mistakes."

It's an adage known far and wide; a motto close to the hearts of some, and swatted away by others; a dictum on display Friday night in the most controversial sequence of the postseason thus far; an axiom that New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi should get to know well.

When Cleveland Indians outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall stepped to the plate in the sixth inning of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field in front of, at the time, a crowd muted by an 8-3 Yankees lead, there was no way to presume that the knob of his bat could possibly spell the end of Girardi's career in New York.

After Chisenhall was granted first base by home-plate umpire Dan Iassonga on a supposed hit-by-pitch from reliever Chad Green to load the bases, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez wagged his finger in disapproval, pointed to his team's dugout, and received a "give me a second" gesture from Girardi. Sanchez indicated that the ball, which he ended up catching, hit the bat's knob on a foul tip. A foul tip that would have ended the inning.

The next 30 seconds of Girardi's evening would be a defining moment, and possibly the most important of the Yankees' season.

Thirty seconds. He had 30 seconds to decide if he would challenge the call on the field; 30 seconds that could swing the game, and the entire series.

And what did Girardi do with those 30 seconds?

Nothing.

The slo-mo replay wasn't there in time. Sanchez's opinion wasn't convincing enough to make a move. And the Yankees, with a challenge in hand and Francisco Lindor - who has a knack for delivering in big moments - stepping to the plate, paid the consequences for Girardi's cessation of judgement. Soon after Chisenhall was awarded first base, Cleveland's smiling shortstop cranked a grand slam off the foul pole down the right-field line, which spearheaded an epic extra-innings comeback win for the Indians and a 2-0 series lead.

After the gut-wrenching loss, Girardi was asked why he decided against challenging the call, and provided a head-scratching explanation.

"Probably being a catcher, my thought is I never want to break a pitcher's rhythm," Girardi explained. "That's how I think about it."

With his answer, Girardi declined to take responsibility for the crucial error and failed to own his actions - something that likely won't sit well with the Yankees faithful.

And if the Yankees lose the series, this moment will be the one fans in New York use to hurl unfavorable and adverse shade toward an organization, nay, a manager, that let them down.

With Girardi void of a contract for next season - and with managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner waiting to see "how this year goes" - his future is uncertain.

It's unfortunate that a moment such as this could potentially overshadow the hard work and effort Giradi's put into shaping a rebuilding team into one that had the defending AL champions on the ropes Friday, but this is playoff baseball, where perplexing moments are aplenty, every decision is under a microscope, and occasions such as these can define a career. Or even end it.

Next time, if you even get a next time, just own your mistake, Joe.