Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees captain Aaron Judge wants it made loud and clear: Don’t blame manager Aaron Boone for the team being in last place.

SNY’s Andy Martino asked the reigning MVP how he would answer if owner Hal Steinbrenner asked him if Boone was the right manager. It seemed Judge almost couldn’t get his answer out quickly enough.

“I want to answer that,” Judge insisted. “I’ve been with Boonie all the way since 2018. He’s the guy.”

Quite a ringing endorsement indeed, especially since Judge and Steinbrenner reportedly have monthly meetings. Not to mention that Judge’s breakout season, hitting 52 homers and winning AL Rookie of the Year, happened with Joe Girardi at the helm. That’s also a testament to Judge’s maturity and ability to tune out noise, particularly given the circumstances of Girardi’s exit.

““He has been there for us in good times and bad times,” Judge continued. “The guy shows up and supports his players. You can probably tell by the amount of times he’s been thrown out of games that he always has our back.”

We’ve been pretty critical of Boone this season, but Judge is right. The manager is essentially coaching the team and it’s hard to keep everyone in a good mood when you’re in last place. Especially if your team is the Yankees and anything less than winning it all is deemed catastrophic failure by the fans.

But day in and day out, through every blowout loss or blown save, Boone hits that podium and supports his guys. “It’s right in front of us” and “We’re so close” get boring to hear, sure, but it’s surely better than lifeless one-worded answers. Or simply going, “Nah, we suck.”

Moreover, Aaron Judge isn’t Aaron Boone’s sole ally in the Yankees clubhouse. Brendan Kuty and Chris Kirschner of The Athletic recently asked some other Yankees what they thought of their manager. Much like Judge, the response was overwhelmingly positive.

“I think he handles it great,” said DJ LeMaheiu. “The players respect him. They enjoy playing for him, but they also respect him.”

“He wants to win, and he’s willing to do everything he can for his players,” added Isiah Kiner-Falefa. “It’s all you can ask for as a manager.”

In this same piece, Aaron Judge also referred to Boone as “a good friend.”

It’s not easy managing any baseball team, let alone the Yankees. Joe Girardi, even in coming within a win of the AL Pennant in 2017, always cracked under the pressure. Aaron Boone, on the other hand, handles losing with a unique grace and dignity. It would have been so easy for him to check out this season.

And yet he didn’t.

Thus, why wouldn’t Aaron Judge and the rest of the Yankees want him back in 2024?

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.