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Would Girardi really leave Yankees for Cubs?
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 8/24/2010 8:46 PM

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It was Groucho Marx who said, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member."

And I wouldn't want as Cubs manager anyone who'd want to be Cubs manager.

Especially, one who has a choice and isn't dragged here kicking and screaming.

So as much as I like Joe Girardi, you'd have to question his sanity if he had interest in a Cubs job while possessing the best managing job in baseball.

Now, crazy things do happen in sports when absolutely no one expects them. Divorces are caused by failed contract negotiations, odd public comments or behind-the-scenes maneuvering.

That's how Jay Cutler fell into the Bears' lap, through bizarre circumstances that led to a temper tantrum and a nasty breakup.

In theory, something that strange could occur with Girardi and the Yankees after the Yankees make another run at the title this fall.

The delicate nature of all things Yankee is evidenced by the fact that Girardi staffed me out Tuesday, something he has never done in the 20-plus years I've known him.

Rather than throw any chum in the waters, he had his agent return my call to say, essentially, nothing, not wanting to answer the Cubs question he has been getting since March.

Regardless, the Yankees expect to bring back Girardi, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, all free agents in November.

GM Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner family have given every indication that they want Girardi back, but they don't talk contract during the season, not even for Jeter or Rivera.

So, all things being equal, Girardi will stay with the Yankees and get a nice raise from the $7.5 million, three-year deal that ends in a couple of months.

In the meantime, it doesn't hurt his leverage that the Cubs have an opening and Girardi grew up in Peoria a Cubs fan, played for the Cubs, and his wife, Kim, is from here.

But unless someone in New York really angers him, it's hard to imagine him leaving a job where he's offered a chance to win the World Series every season.

On the North Side of Chicago, he'd be offered the chance to win the World Series, well, never. If you grew up a Cubs fan, then you know this to be truth, not rumor.

And all misery aside, it's not like the Cubs are well positioned for the next few years.

There's also the memory of four years ago when Girardi was coming off a Manager of the Year award, but the Marlins had put the stink on him after Jeff Loria lost his mind and fired him.

That's when the Cubs hired Lou Piniella, and had Bruce Bochy lined up as their second choice.

There was no third choice, and all nonsense about any other candidates is just that. Nonsense.

The Cubs did not intend to even call Girardi until a friend got to John McDonough, who arranged for Girardi to get a courtesy interview and a chance to tell his side of the story.

But that's all it was. The Cubs believed what they were hearing about Girardi from the clowns in Florida, and it wasn't pleasant.

Those who wanted nothing to do with Girardi back then still run the Cubs, and you wonder if Girardi will so easily forget.

Through his rep, Girardi said Tuesday he intends to focus on winning a World Series again this October and otherwise doesn't want to talk about it.

He'll be in Chicago on the South Side on Friday and will get assaulted by media wanting to know if he's coming home.

Girardi intends to make a brief statement and be done with it, though it rarely works that way.

On Monday in Toronto, Girardi told the New York press: "I'm very happy here (with the Yankees). I have a great working relationship with everyone involved. This organization has been great to me.

"I'm sure I'm going be asked that a lot now that (Lou Piniella has) stepped down. My focus is here. I have a responsibility to the organization and to the guys in that clubhouse.''

Girardi added, "I know I have a background (in Chicago) and I'm not going to skirt (it).

"I grew up a Cubs fan. I played for the Cubs. But I'm worried about what we're doing now. We're in a fight.''

Girardi left that crack in the door for leverage, and as former Yankees employee George Costanza once said, "I am ne-go-ti-a-ting.''

So as much as Cubs fans might like Girardi to return, it probably won't be this time around.

He's played here and he's played and managed there. He knows the difference between hope and reality, and he cares very much about winning, having collected four championship rings in New York.

Nothing's impossible because crazy things do happen in sports.

And something pretty crazy is what it would take for Joe Girardi to wind up as Cubs manager next season.

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.