The New York Yankees, who were supposed to win or make the World Series in 2021, did not come anywhere close.
This is, of course, now the latest link in a patterned chain. They were supposed to win or make the World Series in 2020, too, but got lapped by a superior front office, coaching staff and roster in Tampa. This year, they joined hands and regressed further, getting passed in the process by their chief rival, the Boston Red Sox.
If you consider taking the presumptive World Series favorite since the day the 2019 season ended, then attaching stones to it so it sinks, to be a success, then Aaron Boone and his coaching staff have done one hell of a job.
There is no brashness anymore in this fanbase. Walking into a big game on the road, or a playoff game of any kind, you anticipate losing. You map out a loss. And then you lose. That is Aaron Boone’s tenure in a nutshell. He has taken the best roster in the American League, loosened its joints, and forced it to behave like the fifth-or-sixth best. In every playoff series since 2018, they have been the less-prepared team, unless the Minnesota Twins are in the opposing dugout.
Boone is not the singular issue with this roster, but he is the face of the problem, and sometimes symbolic change is necessary. It’s clear his in-game machinations are not a value add. This is a harsh business, but it’s one where results are expected.
Boone’s Yankees haven’t been an upper-echelon AL team since he took the helm, and every year, a different franchise passes them. Hell, the Red Sox have passed them twice.
Following Tuesday’s Wild Card loss, Boone spoke to the media, and he sounded equal parts resigned and baffled.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone sounded like he knew he was gone.
We’ll start there, because that’s a short quote, yet a laughable one from beginning to end.
Apparently, this is what the league “closing the gap” on a team that never even managed to win the league looks like. In order to have a gap closed, though, you need to have created a gap at all. The Yankees never did that. They began the cycle at 91 wins in 2017, made Game 7 of the ALCS, then came out and won the most feckless 100 games in history, seeing as the Red Sox decided to go out and win 108.
The next season, 2019, was the only campaign of Boone’s four where things seemed to work. Despite myriad injuries, the Bombers won 103 games and had what you might call the narrative advantage. It just kind of felt like a championship team. Unfortunately, there was no pitching left by the fall, so Boone was left scrambling once again, out-managed by AJ Hinch.
So they got Gerrit Cole! And things got worse.
Boone went on to compare his team to other fast-risers like … the Mariners and Angels, proving he’s both distracted by the success of others and has no idea who’s gaining on him. The Angels?
After that, Boone got far more fatalistic. Instead of falsifying a gap, he began reflecting on the end of his contract, admitting he hadn’t discussed next steps prior to his playoff ouster.
There is certainly a chance the team sticks with continuity after all this. Again, this is an organizational problem. They are satisfied with reaching the dance, then watching their opponent run circles around them after they arrive, then claiming that an imaginary gap has been closed.
For a decade now, this has been good enough. The “fastest rebuild in MLB history” was a fine narrative that owned the day for 18 months, but no longer. It’s a time for progress.
And it really feels like there’s a smarter braintrust almost everywhere.
Boone concluded that, ultimately, he’s at peace with whatever decision is made.
Hopefully, that means a decision already has been made. It’s time to move on, for all parties.
Based on the team’s recent trajectory, though, and the clear organizational mandate to take random days off against inferior opponents in the middle of the summer to prepare for a playoff run that never comes … do you trust them to make the correct choice?
Or do you think there’s a chance that Boone stays, even though he just announced to the world he’s mentally gone?