To Aaron Hicks' credit, he tried to mend fences with Yankee fans before Monday's series opener in the Bronx between the Yankees and Orioles. Also to Hicks' credit, it's unclear which came first: did Hicks melt away and stop giving max effort because he no longer felt a need to please Yankee fans, or did the fan vitriol begin when Hicks' effort slipped?
Don't ask fans in the Bronx to choose between the two options, though. 50,000 folks made a unanimous decision on Monday evening, and ignored Hicks' Instagram story, an attempt to thank New York for eight wonderful years (ok, fine, five wonderful-ish years and three absolutely brutal ones).
Yankee fans have been booing Hicks robustly since Opening Day introductions this season. At some point along the way, their hatred of the player transcended the game. Hicks went from a struggling fan favorite to a pariah when he allowed the Tampa Bay Rays to score multiple runs last September while he watched a fair ball roll around the outfield. Or maybe it was earlier in the campaign, when a routine fly ball seemingly put Hicks in a blender as the Yankees' summer swoon hit a new level?
Regardless, he was very much not a center fielder when he left New York this spring, and he very much became one again the second he touched down in Baltimore. Forget about the wrist injury and a mechanical tweak to his swing; that renewed aplomb in center field can't be explained away so easily.
And so, when Hicks returned to town on Monday, the fans let him have it. They let him have it before he popped out and helped kill a rally in the top of the second. And, yes, they let him have it immediately after the team played a tribute video intended to perk up the "center fielder's" spirits.
Yankees knew what they were doing when they played Aaron Hicks tribute video after first at-bat in Bronx
Either the Yankees knew exactly what they were doing, or this was a remarkably tone-deaf attempt to pay tribute to someone who meant a lot to these fans from 2017-2019.
Seems purposeful, but would it stun you if this was simply a massive error in judgment?
At least Hicks didn't make a solid running catch on an Anthony Volpe gapper, which certainly would've hit the ground if he'd still been wearing pinstripes -- oh.
Bright side? After a red hot start in Baltimore, Hicks is now back down to .182 with the Orioles in his past 15 games. If the Yankees do make the playoffs, a 4-5 matchup with Baltimore is highly possible. Hicks had better hope this fan base got the booing out of their system -- or doesn't care enough to travel to Camden Yards.
Non-bright side? The Yankees' currently left fielder is an infielder, and he dropped two catchable balls in the third inning, leading to a pair of Baltimore runs. The playoffs are the least of Brian Cashman's concerns right now. Booooooooooooo!!