The New York Yankees agreeing to keep — and extend — Aaron Boone as their manager represents a continued alignment with a culture of complacency; the Yankees’ braintrust is keen to compete for the playoffs annually, but has no designs on making contention any more of a guarantee. Giving Boone the endorsement to continue in his role as player-friendly overseer was certainly a frustrating step towards neutering a potential advantage for the Yankees before management ever got a chance to explore upgrading.
Do not let the New York-hating pundits fool you, though. What the Giants considered doing with head coach Joe Judge before ultimately dismissing him was on an entirely different plane.
There’s a massive difference between extending a manager responsible for 100- and 103-win seasons in recent years while (seemingly) lacking the tactical killer instinct and allowing yourself to be masterminded by a clown.
One signals to the fan base that you believe luck is the only thing missing from your past several Octobers, and you value kindness and personal relationships over ruthless shakeups. The other indicates that you have no goddamned idea how to run a professional sports team, and don’t want to risk upsetting the apple cart of a 4-13 football team on the oft chance of appearing more unstable than you already are.
We didn’t want to address this.
But just because of the microscope that the New York sports scene is always under, we’ve felt the need to state it outright: being satisfied with always being “involved” while refusing to take the next step is different from actively choosing to maintain a disaster.
The Yankees keeping Aaron Boone is nothing like the Giants and Joe Judge.
The parts of the fan base alienated by bringing Aaron Boone back, who consider this the last straw and have sworn off the Yankees entirely because they haven’t been the team the confetti’s fallen on since 2009, are largely the ones you’d say “good riddance” to in a vacuum. Being somewhere between “championship or bust” and simply satisfied with the effort is a good way to watch a venerated team like the Yankees; yes, the expectations are higher, but Boone hasn’t been piloting the 2018-2021 Orioles.
Conversely, the damage that would’ve been wrought by bringing back Judge could’ve been generational. It would’ve represented a tripling down on 700 days without a single step forward.
Boone’s best moment? Taking a loaded 2019 roster, watching it be decimated in 100 different ways by 100 different injuries day-by-day, and being five feet on a Didi Gregorius fly ball against Gerrit Cole and one Aroldis Chapman hanger (and, yes, one final Giancarlo Stanton injury after Game 1) away from taking down the Astros, while putting 103 wins in his pocket (in one of the most enjoyable regular seasons in recent history).
Judge’s signature moment? That time his defense carried Colt McCoy to a narrow win in Seattle, or that one week the Eagles could’ve chosen to sneak him into the playoffs at 6-10 but didn’t because that’s insane.
Boone’s best trait is his calmness. Judge’s worst trait, by far, is his demeanor, a throwback to the days when men were men and babies sometimes just fell on their heads and nobody told anyone. Liable to say any excuse or lie at any time, like claiming the entire 2018 Patriots Super Bowl-winning coaching staff was nearly fired, Judge is a loose cannon in a city that typically eats those up in one swooning November.
Somehow, Judge has been allowed two swoons, and New York sports narrowly escaped a third when he was relieved of his duties 24 hours after he should’ve been on Tuesday evening. There was no good reason for the pair to trend together when it felt as if the Giants had doomed themselves to extend the marriage.
The reason it’s been so frustrating to see Boone be granted another opportunity is because it indicates the Yankees have incorporated a degree of luck into their profiteering and title-winning designs instead of out-spending and out-scheming the rest of the league to render “luck” irrelevant.
But to claim Boone’s Yankees and Judge’s Giants are in the same spot simply because New York has only an MLS title to its name since 2009 is wrong-headed, and falls victim to the same trap First Take lays out for us every day.
As much as we’d desperately like the Yankees to put their collective foot on the gas pedal, not every championship failure is created equal.