Aaron Boone just gave the best answer possible on the fuel behind 2024 Yankees' start

This is a TEAM.
New York Yankees v San Diego Padres
New York Yankees v San Diego Padres / Orlando Ramirez/GettyImages

On nights when the 2024 New York Yankees struggle to hit, you'll hear a common refrain amongst the fanbase: "Ugh, this is just the 2023 team with Verdugo and Soto."

It's a difficult, simplistic statement to reckon with. For one thing, it shows just how reviled the 2023 offense was, especially in the wake of Aaron Judge's toe injury, a pivot point when the team sat 11 games over .500. For my money, being able to tune out in August was much more pleasant than anything that happened in 2021, which will always be my benchmark for maximum suffering, right down to the Wild Card Game. But understood. Comparing 2024 to 2023 is reserved for shutouts. Comparing 2024 to 2022 is the way Yankee fans attempt to diminish their early-season success.

But it's the "with Verdugo and Soto" element that really sticks in one's craw. Occasionally, teams have off nights at the plate; it will happen 30 times in a 162-game season. The dismissiveness of acting like the Soto and Verdugo additions haven't both lengthened and balanced the lineup tremendously, while also revitalizing the clubhouse, has become tougher to stomach with each passing day.

Are the 2024 Yankees the "best" team of the modern era, with their sparkling ERA and Mantle/Maris dueling MVP performances from Aaron Judge and the aforementioned Soto? As the season turns to June, it's probably time for fans to start having that discussion rather than pretending there hasn't been a genuine year-over-year transformation. But the guys in that locker room -- led by Aaron Boone -- won't be doing so.

2024 Yankees are greater than the sum of their impressive parts, per Aaron Boone

Boone's humble answer this week to the question of his group's greatness — "Remains to be seen" — was another feather in his recently well-played cap. Most importantly, Boone noted that this team's resemblance to the "best teams" he's ever interacted with comes from each Yankee "genuinely playing for the guy next to [them]" and selflessly caring about team success more than individual glory.

Obviously, plenty of individual glory has followed that process already. But Boone's statement — giving credit where it's due, but remaining focused on the end goal — lends further credence to what we've seen already from Marcus Stroman picking up Clay Holmes to Verdugo leading NSFW cheers the length of the dugout. Everybody picks up everybody. Everybody takes losses hard, but unlike some fans, refuses to let losses (even ghastly ones) define them. And everybody is well aware that it's June, and they're not done yet.

If fans don't want to get hurt again, that's perfectly alright. The 2024 New York Rangers were a team of destiny until they weren't. Baseball's best constructed teams can run into buzzsaws. The Yankees of the '20s, '30s, '40s and '50s made this look easy, but it's nowhere close to it. Then again, it's tough to look at this Yankees team and claim they aren't well set up — mentally and physically — for the sort of run fans dream of, and based on everything they're saying, they don't seem taxed by the pressure.

Who knows? The 2023 Yankees, plus Soto and Verdugo (and pitching, and belief, and confidence, and media training, and Jasson Dominguez around the corner...), might be enough after all.