Aaron Boone knows the rewards and risks are high as manager of the Yankees. In the wake of the uproar among his players, 2020 promises a test of his best.
Aaron Boone is one of only five players to hit a walk-off home run that decided a major league postseason game. He is familiar with the high kicking in at that moment in knowing that something extraordinary just happened – and he is part of it.
So that when he looks at the video of Jose Altuve jogging home yelling, “Don’t rip my shirt off” having just accomplished the same feat to send the Yankees home in the 2019 ALCS – on an 84 mph slider he should not have guessed was coming off the hand of Aroldis Chapman – inside, the rage must be fierce.
Boone: That Cut Just Won’t Heal
Over the winter, a feeling exists that will not go away. It suggests the Yankees were robbed by a team of Astros who cheated their way through three seasons while ending up with two “pieces of metal” his team so dearly covets.
And so, when Commissioner Manfred spilled the beans with his version of the Mitchell Report “punishing” cheating steroid users, Boone’s initial take on January 14, 2020, was a feeling of “sweet vindication.”
If only the competitive nature of professional athletes and managers wasn’t so great, and if those connected to the Astros had expressed a degree of remorse for their sins, it might have ended there.
These Are My Savages
They didn’t, and the same rage burning inside Aaron Boone – seldom released from its cage – that came to the forefront in a mid-June game.
The record will show (see featured image) he was ejected in the second inning of Game 1 of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays for arguing with rookie umpire Brennan Miller about the strike zone.
Yankees fans will forever remember his words that day as fiercely as Texans recall “Remember The Alamo.”
As the opening of the Yankees 2020, Spring Training approached Boone’s frustration and anger directed at the Astros diminished, but only because it seemed to dawn on him his players have yet to vent their anger.
Boone: The Actor/Manager Assumes a Different Role
Publicly, his message became, “It’s something that guys have processed now for a few weeks, so the emotions aren’t quite as raw. But I’m also aware that, you know, everyone should be able to answer the question and be on the record about how they feel about it,”
And the Yankees have expressed their feeling with varying degrees of outrage, rationalization, and “I’d really not rather talk about this” exchanges with the media.
For Aaron Boone, everything changes as the Yankee get in full swing leading to Opening Day and six months of a grueling 162-game schedule over six months, with the hope of an additional month added when October rolls around.
Aaron Boone – He’s Got This – Yes?
The Yankees viewed Boone as a tested significant league ballplayer – not one of the best to play the game – but one who exhibited a passion for the game of baseball.
His stint in the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball booth as an analyst only added to his stature as a “communicator,” and what has become the buzz word in baseball when it comes to hiring managers and coaches at this level.
Those communication skills stand to be tested as Aaron Boone attempts to transition his team from the venting and rightful discontent players feel towards the Astros – and specific Astros players – to the main task at hand – a Division Title, the ALCS, and the World Series.
Major league baseball is not the NFL where a team can spend a week getting all hyped up and ready to kill on Sunday, Monday, Thursday, or whenever it is they play that one game a week these days.
Instead, baseball is a grind that tests the human spirit like no other sport.
There will be ups and downs throughout a season reminding us the best hitters in baseball, the ones residing in Cooperstown, have failed seven of every ten times they walked to the plate.
Thankfully, all of the Yankees, who have anything to say, have already captured the back pages of New York newspapers, and it can end there.
But – Yes There’s Always A But
But lurking in the background is still the release of Rob Manfred’s report and ensuing punishments for the Boston Red Sox, and how it will be received not only by the Yankees but the rest of baseball.
In effect, there’s only so much Aaron Boone can do to influence and control the temperature of his team once the season gets underway.
The rest is left in a “Watergate” like atmosphere where it is only to wonder if the next shoe has dropped while I was sleeping.
We wish for a world in which there are no steroids or hi-tech cheating. As America’s National Pastime, baseball is supposed to be immune from “reality,” much like the movies we enjoy as a source of entertainment.
Well, as we have come to learn, the “world” sucks.
Still, removed from cheating, talent trumps everything. And for that reason, the Yankees are the rightful favorites to capture a historical 28th World Championship in 2020 – no matter what else happens.