Aaron Boone is capable of managing the New York Yankees, but needs to add a firmer tone to his style moving forward in 2019.
Aaron Boone is too nice.
Mind you, that isn’t a bad thing. The New York media is ruthless, and New York Yankees fans even more so. Managing a team known for its success requires one to be on the more personable side.
Except, that’s with the media. Boone’s affable personality is great, sure, but nice guys aren’t needed in the clubhouse.
Cut to the New York Yankees today, fresh off a series loss to the lowly Chicago White Sox. The Bronx Bombers sit at 6-9 and have lost their first three home series for the first time since 1982. To add insult to injury, this was also the second time in the last century.
And to be fair, the Yankees are dealing with an ungodly number of injuries. Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar and Aaron Hicks are all on the injured list. That’s a lot of power missing from the lineup and Aaron Boone can only do so much with what he has.
But this Yankees team proved last year it can overcome adversity and, by extension, is better than this.
That means something needs to change soon, and it starts with Boone holding people accountable.
When Aaron Boone was hired following the 2017 season, he was viewed as a breath of fresh air. Outgoing skipper Joe Girardi got results, yes, but his blunt style didn’t sit well with both players and the media. From his terseness in press conferences to infamously calling out Gary Sanchez in the press, a change was needed.
Enter Boone, who emerged as a front-runner despite no prior coaching or managerial experience. Despite that, his embracing analytics and having strong communication skills helped land him the job. Where Girardi was stern and formal, Boone was approachable; relatable.
And whatever Boone was buying, the young Yankees bought. New York won 100 games last year despite so much going wrong. Aaron Judge missed two months with a wrist injury. Greg Bird was never right, nor was Gary Sanchez. Luis Severino’s pitching went south for most of the second half.
But there’s a problem. The issues which dogged Boone last year have followed him and his team into 2019. Adversity is either fully embraced, or the team plays with no fight at all. A bite from the injury bug means the course stays or the ship capsizes.
Such inconsistency is unacceptable and as the Captain of the S.S. Yankees, Boone must turn down the Gilligan and amp up the Skipper.
Where’s the mad manager?
Save for a few ejections last year, Aaron Boone is passive to a fault. His demeanor in bad losses has the “Aw, shucks” factor of Jimmy Stewart. The man is never angry in a postgame press conference, even after horrific losses. It’s certainly frustrating from a fan’s standpoint, even though his simply saying “Everyone has to be better and here’s why” would more than suffice.
Except, there is a method to Boone’s madness or lack thereof. I recently read a new book called Inside The Empire: The True Power Behind the New York Yankees. Written by longtime New York Post columnist Bob Klapisch and Pulitzer nominee Paul Solotaroff, Boone’s reasons for staying calm are explained in detail:
He was caught in the vise of his high-road brand: if he ursed out Cora, he might have saved face but been seen as fake by his team. If he took a run at Cora — as Girardi surely would have — he’d have proved a point but betrayed his own ethos. At some point in a season, every manager faces a choice between his dignity and his reputation. Boone made his choice and paid a stiff price.
What to do?
For context, the above passage references a game in Boston in which Red Sox manager Alex Cora was ejected early and then cursed out the Yankees’ dugout. As can be seen above, Boone ignored the tirade.
That’s fine, but Boone could have stood up for the team and nothing would have changed. If anything, his players might have respected him for it. Sure, Aaron Boone the man isn’t the confrontational type, but at least yelling at Cora to back off just once would have shown Aaron Boone the Yankees manager at least really cared.
Actions speak louder than words. Plain and simple. Boone can offer the same lip service after rough losses and trust fans’ frustration will quell, or he can change. He can say he’s upset about such losses and also call out the team’s lack of effort. He doesn’t even have to call out individual players in slumps. All he has to say is the following:
“This team can be better and has to be. We haven’t been doing enough.”
That’s really all us frustrated Yankees fans want. A little bit of accountability never hurt anyone. He doesn’t need to curse and bang the table, but the team is 6-9 and has lost three series to teams which lost a combined 313 games in 2018. Something has to change.
And all the while, Aaron Boone hasn’t breathed any fire, nary a wisp of smoke. The passive skipper of last year remains, and fans are starting to get frustrated. At some point, something (or someone) other than injuries has to be blamed.
Aaron Boone is clearly happy to be the manager of the New York Yankees. The man lives and breathes baseball to the point where the front office unanimously picked him to succeed Joe Girardi. They picked him because he wants to win a World Series.
Would it hurt if he actually let that show?