Something was off with the New York Yankees in 2021. Most rational fans can give them a pass for 2020 due to the complications stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, but the underachieving that took place this year was unacceptable for a team with a $200+ million payroll.
For a while now, there’s been speculation (at least among those watching this team from afar) that something was rotten with the organization’s culture, whether it was bad information being trickled down from the front office and/or a lack of leadership from manager Aaron Boone.
There was also the players, who clearly played the largest role in torpedoing what many considered a promising campaign. Too often did this team lack the necessary energy and gumption to fight back, stage comebacks, or step on an opponents’ neck … and sometimes, even just simply produce!
We can partially chalk that up to the uninspiring personalities on this roster. There are no demonstrative individuals on the Yankees, if we’re being honest. Luke Voit is probably the only one, which is why he’s a fan favorite.
Name another. You didn’t watch a single postgame press conference this year that suggested there was.
As if that wasn’t enough of a problem, apparently there was a spat between the Yankees’ highest-paid player in Gerrit Cole AND their longest-tenured player in Brett Gardner. Seriously?
Did rumored Gerrit Cole-Brett Gardner spat hurt the 2021 Yankees?
According to Bob Klapisch of NJ.com (subscription required), Gardner, who’s a known jokester in the clubhouse (just ask Clint Frazier and Tyler Wade), tried to have some fun with Cole by taking a jab at his alleged usage of “sticky stuff” by “parading around the clubhouse” with pine tar on his hat, in an attempt to “get a laugh out of Cole.”
Instead, Cole got in Gardner’s face in front of the rest of the team and demanded he stop in what was described to be a bit of an awkward situation. Cole then reportedly apologized to Gardy the next day for his reaction.
While this, if true, likely played a role in affecting team chemistry, it was hardly the issue that threw the Yankees off their axis.
The shortcomings were evident since Day 1. The “sticky stuff” drama didn’t occur until mid-June, during which the Yankees were already 34-32. They weren’t good. And they didn’t rip off their huge run that brought them back into contention until the end of July into August.
This didn’t play a role in the Yankees executing poor fundamentals, or forgetting how to hit the ball, or Cole getting embarrassed in the Wild Card Game. All we can do here is mark this as another footnote in a laughingstock of a season that will give rival fans ammo until the Bombers capture championship No. 28.