If the 2022 Yankees thought the booing they heard in Games 3 and 4 of the ALCS was toxic, then wait until they get to Opening Day in the Bronx, as Aaron Boone trots out of the dugout to greet a San Francisco Giants roster that just might include Aaron Judge.
Yankee fan dissatisfaction is at an all-time post-2004 high, and with good reason. The 2018 season was supposed to usher in a return to the level of championship content this franchise has long been known for. Instead, New York blitzed past the finish line of a rebuild, and the 2017 Yankees made it to Game 7 of the ALCS, further than anyone expected.
That unexpected burst of energy brought about … a managerial dismissal, with Joe Girardi being shunted aside in favor of the inexperienced Boone prior to that 2018 target season.
Since that moment in time, the Yankees have never gotten any closer to a title. In ’18, the Red Sox lapped them and knocked them out in the ALDS. In that series, the team’s starting pitcher forgot the start time for a pivotal Game 3, a contest they dropped 16-1. In 2019, a ragtag, injured group of Yankees made the ALCS, only to be knocked out by the Astros for the second time in three years.
2020 and 2021 featured ALDS and Wild Card Game exits and regressions. 2022, supposedly the best group of all, was beyond meek in being swept out of the ALCS (again by Houston), a series defined by gaffes both typical (bullpen management) and beyond the pale (2004 Red Sox hype videos).
Though manager Aaron Boone isn’t the only problem with this undermanned roster, the time still felt right for a change that could’ve set the Bombers in the right direction, one season into a three-year extension for their skipper. Maybe Brian Cashman, his contract expiring, might follow. Michael Kay ripping Boone on his postgame appearances after Games 3 and 4 seemed like a positive sign…
…until it turned out to be absolutely nothing. Hal Steinbrenner told a reporter that Boone would be retained on Wednesday. He also called Boone “a very good manager.” He doesn’t mind anything he saw last week, last year, or last era. Good. Very good.
Yankees bringing Aaron Boone back for Hal Steinbrenner, a very good boy.
Will Aaron Judge want to return to this in 2023? Does Aaron Judge seek a legacy, or complacency?
Many of the Yankees, from the top down through the dugout, seem to love the culture they’ve built in recent years. That culture hasn’t been good enough. The whole operation has been a step slow. Last fall, after losing the Wild Card Game, Boone admitted the league had “caught up” to his Yankees, despite there never being any evidence of a gap in the first place. Did they ever actually pass Houston? Please remind us.
Boone and Cashman have mastered the art of doing exactly what the Yankees did in 2022. They win too many regular season games to ever be called a failure, but don’t compete at anything close to the necessary level to plow through October. When presented with a coin to flip, Boone calls tails when it’s heads every single time. When given a chart to analyze, Boone reads it upside down.
Now, Boone will be given another year or two to figure out the missing piece to his personal puzzle. Or maybe an ALCS berth — and loss — is what this new regime views as worthy of a promotion.