The New York Yankees’ extremely promising start to the 2022 season hit a significant blip this past week when Josh Donaldson crossed a line during his attempted Tim Anderson trash talk. Donaldson’s oblique reference to a 2019 article where Anderson drew a parallel between himself and Jackie Robinson (a small part of a much more nuanced point) led to condemnation, a one-game suspension, and many in the Yankees’ fandom orbit dismissing Donaldson as “just some jerk” without adding the necessary context.
It’s an uncomfortable topic, and one the team would certainly prefer to move on from — especially now that Aaron Judge has said his peace and condemned Donaldson’s words internally. The local (and national) media don’t necessarily have to listen to the team’s instruction on that matter, though, and will likely continue discussing the chasm Donaldson created long-term.
Which brings us to the curious case of Paul O’Neill, still appearing on the YES Network remotely and available to local affiliates to talk Yankees as they chase the AL East title from an advantageous position.
O’Neill apparently has no interest in wading into the Donaldson waters, though, which led to him getting bumped off the airwaves at WFAN mid-week.
Host Brandon Tierney, after speaking with co-host Tiki Barber about the Donaldson incident for about an hour and a half, pulled the plug late on a previously-hyped O’Neill interview because he reportedly learned O’Neill would not answer questions about the controversy.
Finding that incongruous with the tone of his show, Tierney simply said no thanks.
Yankees RF Paul O’Neill doesn’t want to talk about Josh Donaldson
According to Tierney, on-air:
"“He has a new book coming out, called, ‘Swing and a Hit.’ And Jack Curry wrote it, along with Paul. We were told and Tiki, you don’t even know this because I was going through this while you were finishing up your thought on the air. We were told we can not ask anything about Donaldson and Anderson.“I said, ‘We can’t do the interview if that is the case.’ I said, ‘Please tell Paul, we will navigate this responsibly. We will not belabor it. But I can’t have Paul O’Neill on the show after we spent an hour and 35 minutes talking about Tim Anderson and Josh Donaldson and not ask him about what transpired. That sucks. No disrespect to Paul. I love him. Truly, my second all-time favorite Yankee. We have a responsibility to the show.”"
What’s left unclear is whether this was O’Neill’s personal stipulation or whether something came down from Yankees brass to avoid the topic. Considering Judge and Aaron Boone’s previous statements on the matter, though, logic would dictate it’s just something O’Neill didn’t want to touch midway through a press tour for his new book.
Tierney later hopped on Twitter to further clarify why he meant no disrespect to any party, but couldn’t in good conscience continue the interview as scheduled.
The New York Yankees would certainly prefer to issue the same edict moving forward.
Perhaps, when Donaldson returns, he’ll do so after a significant mindset adjustment.