Outside of watching Aaron Judge consistently punish baseballs over the past six months, the 2022 regular season has been a bit of a roller coaster for the Yankees. They went from being the best team in baseball over the first three months to playing like a below-.500 club in the two that followed.
Let’s put some numbers around this, shall we? By the end of June, manager Aaron Boone’s squad owned a 56-21 record. That sussed out to a .727 winning percentage and was accompanied by a 12.5-game lead in the American League East. That was followed by a 23-31 record in July and August. Once September 1st rolled around, New York’s lead had gotten down to just six games.
They’ve completely turned things around in September and look primed for another postseason run. Prior to Friday’s game against the Orioles, the Yankees are 17-7 and recently clinched another AL East title. What was the turning point?
It was on August 20th when Boone slammed his hand on the table during a post-game press conference that followed another Yankee loss. Here it is again:
"It's right in front of us. It's right here, and we can fix it."
A fiery Aaron Boone voices his thoughts on the Yankees' expectations down the stretch. pic.twitter.com/uzv7GgKijk
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) August 20, 2022
A number of Yankee players have pointed to that moment as a turning point. Below are some reactions from players. First up is Giancarlo Stanton (all quotes from nj.com):
It’s out of character for Boone, so you know it’s genuine. He was sending a different type of message and tactic to pick us to pick it up. I definitely noticed. I saw it on my phone and TV. And it worked.
Here’s what Jameson Taillon had to say:
I was struggling during that whole time. Obviously I was still working and preparing, but I definitely had a sense of urgency after that. I know it sounds cliché, but I think struggles definitely make a team grow closer and stronger. There are side conversations, team meetings, postgame meetings, guys in hotel rooms hanging out talking about how we can get through it. Seeing Boone do what he did that day, I think that helped us get through it.
And here’s reliever Lou Trivino’s thoughts:
I saw the video of Boone from that day on the MLB app and said, ‘Oh, wow. Aaron is a pretty mild-mannered guy. He’s very even keel. For him to do that, I thought, ‘OK, here we go.’
Was this premeditated? It’s possible, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t. Boone was probably so angry at what he was watching that he finally had enough. Either way, it worked and the Yankees have gone 23-11 since that moment.
Now, New York is about to enjoy a bye during the Wild Card round while preparing to pursue its 28th World Series title.