Joe Girardi might have that gritty, New York sensibility, but he's a Chicago boy: born and raised in Peoria, Ill., drafted by the Chicago Cubs, went on to play two stints in the Windy City and become a fan favorite, he owns property in the area, and of course, he's a proud graduate of Chicago-area Northwestern University, which, of course, is the greatest school on the planet.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella announced his retirement Tuesday, and as soon as that happened every Chicago media outlet immediately began speculating that Girardi - who interviewed and was turned down for the job a year before taking the New York Yankees' gig - would immediately rise to the top of Chicago's list. Going to Northwestern, I keep my ear to the Chicago sports news ground - note where the picture of me that accompanies every post is taken - and the extent to which Chicago-area sports media are running with this Girardi angle is pretty alarming.
Let's see, we have the Tribune, the Sun-Times (who list Girardi as the only choice for the job) the Daily Herald, SBNation's Cubs' blog Bleed Cubbie Blue, SBN Chicago, and the AP here, all of whom cite Girardi as the No. 1 or No. 2 choice for the Cubs' job.
They cite his connections to the area, his desire for the job in 2007 when Piniella was hired, and the fact that his Yankees contract runs out at the end of the year, while the Cubs are intentionally letting Piniella hang around for the end of the year instead of searching for a new replacement now.
It seems to me that although the Yankees job presented a big challenge - one Girardi initially "failed" at, with the Yankees missing the playoffs for the first time since Girardi was a player in his first season as a manager - the team has shown a desire to stick with him, and he's loved his time in New York. I don't see him picking up and leaving - but if the speculation continues to run as rampant as it does in the Second City, you have to wonder. Also, everything is contingent on the Yankees continuing to be worldbeaters and dominating everything in sight: it would be hard to see Girardi walking away from a second consecutive championship, but much easier to see him leave if they falter down the stretch and exit the playoffs early - or even fall short altogether.