The Yankees need to part ways with Aaron Boone, and one way to fix things is by introducing Don Mattingly’s work ethic into the clubhouse.
When the Yankees hired Aaron Boone as their manager in 2018, they appeared to be following one of those faddish trends in baseball that saw nothing wrong with hiring young and inexperienced men to be caretakers of their team.
Emerging from the TV booth at ESPN, Boone easily qualified by that definition. He was primarily viewed as a refreshing replacement for the stoic and rigid personality of Joe Girardi.
Affable and eager to please, Aaron Boone immediately won points with New York media for his availability and forthrightness.
More often than not, Boone’s Yankees teams won on the field, too, amassing a .600 winning percentage (445-297) that includes two consecutive 100+ win seasons in his first two seasons.
Gradually, though, the Yankees winning record during the regular season(s) became overshadowed by the team’s inability to make a meaningful dent in the competition (mainly the Astros) during the postseason. As the crescendo of discontent continued to rise among Yankees’ fans, the calls to find a scapegoat increased.
Yankees: Sometimes, A Scapegoat Is Called For
The Yankees can’t fire Giancarlo Stanton for being injured, and they certainly will never fire Brian Cashman, who remains beloved to Hal Steinbrenner. And yet, the need for change is overwhelming as the Yankees lag behind all teams in the AL East, a full ten games behind the Tampa Bay Rays.
Moreover, if the season ended today, the Yankees would find themselves sitting at home and not a part of the playoffs.
So, suppose you believe, as I do, that there are times when change for the sake of change is necessary for professional sports. In that case, shouldn’t the Yankees seriously be considering letting Aaron Boone go, if only as a wake-up call in the clubhouse that this Yankees team is embarrassing themselves and the franchise?
Understand, Aaron Boone does not deserve to be fired. He can only manage the players who suit up in the Yankees’ clubhouse on any night.
To his frustration and dismay, he can only write the name Aaron Hicks on his lineup card, even though, and for lack of a better replacement, he may inwardly hold zero trust in Hick’s ability at this time.
Nevertheless, we know it because we see day in and night out on YES that the Yankees are stale, toothless, and ho-hum in how they play baseball.
Now – this is Aaron Boone’s problem. Because if he isn’t seething at the performances he’s seeing from Gleyber Torres, Clarke Schmidt, Aaron Hicks, Oswald Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Willie Calhoun – then maybe Boone is just as dead as these players.
The Complacency Is Aaron Boone’s Responsibility
Boone’s post-game press conferences (video below) indicate the malaise surrounding his thinking.
“It doesn’t wait for us, so we got to buckle up and get after it tomorrow,” he says. Come si, come as – if you are one of the players mentioned above – are you scared of losing your job? Are you showing up early to take fielding practice, talking with the coaches, looking at videos – asking and pleading for help?
Yankees: Too Many Players Are Simply “Passing Through”
Moreover, if those players’ work ethic is less than desirable and they are not called out for it, then that falls directly under the scope of Aaron Boone’s responsibility. Maybe Boone calls them on the carpet privately, but I doubt it.
Then again, if Boone is not seen putting in that extra time and effort, what should be expected from the Yankees’ players?
Across the river, Mets players continue to be astounded by the thoroughness and dedication of their manager, Buck Showalter, and that effort echoes in the way they play the game every day.
So, if Boone is out based on his inability to get the most out of his players, where does that leave the Yankees? That’s an easy one – Don Mattingly.
Don Mattingly, the Yankees workaholic who carried his lunchpail to work every day during his playing days with the team. He is a man defined by his work ethic, who, despite not having a ring to bear witness to a World Title, still carries on as the bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays following his separation from the Miami Marlins as their manager.
Why not the Yankees? Mattingly is decidedly vague about that, saying only, “I’m getting the opportunity to do what I like,” he said. “I have a chance to be another set of eyes for (Schneider). And I have a chance to talk with hitters, the young guys like Vlad (Guerrero Jr.), who are talented and growing.
Ergo, who wants to be coaching a bunch of old and overpaid players on the Yankees – and besides – which team has a better chance of getting me that World Championship that’s eluded me for so long?
But as Mattingly also says, “I’ve never been one to worry about the next thing,” Mattingly said. “I’ve always tried to stay in the moment. I truly enjoy where I am right now.”
Ergo, tempt me with the chance to be the Yankees manager, and I’ll think about it.
Well, the move belongs to the Yankees. Mattingly is happy where he is, and it will take all of Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner’s will to prod him from the Blue Jays.
But don’t forget this. Don Mattingly was and always be a New York Yankee. In the same vein as Derek Jeter, the pinstripes meant something to him, and unlike many of the Yankees players today, he was never “passing through.”
Don Mattingly: A Force Just By Being Present
Unlike Aaron Boone, Mattingly is a force just by being present. He is a leader who is comfortable leading by example, just as he did during his playing days.
And unlike Boone, he carries no baggage from the get-go. Mattingly is not young (62), and he is not inexperienced as a manager.
Many will argue that Don Mattingly should have been hired as manager twice before, following the departure of Joe Torre and Joe Girardi. For reasons we’ll probably never know, it didn’t happen.
The time is ripe for change in the Yankees organization. Don’t let the chance to return Don Mattingly to pinstripes go by again.