yankees fire cashman night
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“The story that is always told about the [New York] Yankees is wrong,” longtime general manager Brian Cashman has said multiple times, according to SNY’s Andy Martino.

In a stroke of baseball genius, Martino defines it in a new book from Doubleday, The Yankee Way: The Untold Inside Story of the Brian Cashman Era. So perfectly, in fact, that I must admit: I was wrong to rant last summer. And while we’re at it, maybe we need to lay off of Cashman too.

As we learn in the book, the Yankee Way of prioritizing on-base percentage and their own utilization of the five-tool scale isn’t so much about the process itself, but the man behind it. This man was none other than Gene “Stick” Michael, the longtime Yankees executive credited with building the Core Four dynasty of the 1990s.

I was lucky enough to recently sit down with Andy Martino to discuss this very book, and he remembers the Yankee Way uniquely.

“I do have a strong memory of one time,” recalls Martino, who grew up watching the Triple-A Red Wings in Rochester, New York. “The Columbus Clippers were in Rochester, and there was a big hubbub, a little buzz in the crowd because Gene Michael was there in the seats, scouting his Triple-A team.”

Reading on, you learn just how strong a baseball mind Michael was, as well as the influence he held within the organization. Whether he was managing the team, scouting, GMing or whatever else, the man had a way of holding George Steinbrenner’s ear. Even when the Boss was at his worst with overspending, he always found his way back to the Stick.

Martino also gives proper credit to the veteran executive Bill Livesey, one of the “underrated heroes” Cashman has mentioned in building the last dynasty. It all boils down to simple on-base percentage: the Yankees were using it as a scouting tool long before Oakland Moneyballed it into a budgetary one.

“That’s why I wanted to write this book,” says Martino. “There’s a real story to tell here.”

Story? More like stories. How and why did Steinbrenner’s continual undermining of the Yankee Way (“Off the charts, unbelievably frustrating,” in the author’s words) cost the Bronx Bombers a future Hall of Famer? Why didn’t the Yankees win more World Series rings with a 1-2 punch of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez?

And while we’re at it, what is the true, no longer untold story of Jeter and Cashman’s complicated relationship?

Such is the intricate, meticulous, wonderfully detailed system that is, like it or not, the Yankee Way. It is not the baseball version of Parris Island, nor Severance set in a dugout. It is simply logical and intelligent baseball.

“It’s very specific,” Martino said during our chat. “It’s dyed-in-the-wool baseball stuff to me more than it is ‘Shave your beard’.”

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.