That has to be the breaking point. Has to be.
The Yankees let the Joey Gallo charade go on long enough. Far too long. Perhaps they were apathetic given the grand scheme of the team’s success. Or too stubborn and cheap to admit a grave error. Maybe they were genuinely taken by his athleticism, glove and power, confident he would snap out of it eventually. It was probably some combination of all the above. But that does not matter right now. Because this has to be the end of the road.
Mets 6, Yankees 3 in the first game of the most-anticipated Subway Series this town has had since we did it in October some 22 years ago. The main story at Citi Field was Jordan Montgomery failing to protect an early lead and Taijuan Walker gutting through a rough start. But this is going to be distilled to one moment, because that’s how these things work.
Top of the eighth. Mets up by a pair of runs. Adam Ottavino gives up a two-out walk to Aaron Hicks. We then get this cat-and-mouse game: Yankees manager Aaron Boone pinch hits Gallo for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, followed by Mets manager Buck Showalter calling on Edwin Diaz for a four-out save.
The only surprise that followed was Diaz need five pitches, rather than three, to punch Gallo out.
There are two ways to look at this. Neither suggests Gallo should still be on the roster by first pitch on Wednesday night.
The cynical view: Boone had his George Costanza-in-the-parking-lot moment with the Gallo situation. His explanation for the move — Ottavino is tough on righties, he wanted to force the Mets to go to Diaz and he thought Gallo had the best chance to get on (re: walk) — is flimsy enough that you can bite into a conspiracy theory. If the front office is going to keep giving him Gallo, he might as well keep giving them the full experience. Even in a critical spot against a rival as the lead over the Astros dwindles to a game in the loss column. Because maybe that will wake them up.
The more likely — and rational — explanation: If it’s not broken, the Yankees don’t intend to fix it. And to be fair, they had won 66 games entering Tuesday with Gallo batting .161. He had not impeded their success in any significant way when Boone utilized his strategy (your mileage may vary) and made his move.
But now Gallo has.
This was as close to the postseason as you can get in July. The Yankees needed this game. They desperately wanted to win it. And now, assuming they are not delusional, they can no longer deny what has been apparent to everyone else for months now.
Brian Cashman needs to stop pretending. He blew this one. Gallo is never going to hack it here. And it’s no longer just good enough to have faith he won’t be anywhere near the postseason roster. The guy has to go, and now. Trade him. Designate him for assignment. Ask him to try out for the Jets. Whatever it takes.
It would be best for the player. Gallo has talent and tools. He deserves a chance to save his career, and he likely can playing every day for a less-scrutinized team in a more understanding location. More importantly, it would be best for the Yankees. You know, the team with the best record in baseball that allegedly plans to do everything in its power to win the World Series.
Boone made a move. It didn’t work. But if it leads to the necessary change, it will be worth it. The Yankees have finally reached the breaking point with Gallo. Enough is enough.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]