The New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone was a baseball player for twelve years, mostly with the Cincinnati Reds. During the last half of the 2003 season, he famously played 52 games for the Yankees. Boone became a Yankee star when the 2003 Red Sox won the sixth game of the ALCS forcing a game seven.
Tim Wakefield pitched a scoreless tenth for Boston and in the bottom of the 11th faced Aaron Boone, who had entered earlier as a pinch-runner. On Wakefield’s first pitch of the inning, Boone launched a walk-off home run into the left-field seats of Fenway Park. ALCS MVP Rivera running to the mound and collapsing on it in joy, Boone jumping on home plate, and Rivera being carried off on his teammates’ shoulders as the Yankees won the ALCS. Boone was forever entered into Yankee’s lore.
After the 2017 season and loss to the cheating Houston Astros (not known at the time), the New York Yankees decided it was time for a managerial change. Joe Girardi, who brought the Yankees to their last World Series win, did not renew his contract. The Yankees searched for a new manager, interviewing several prospects. Considered for the job was Girardi’s 10-year veteran Rob Thompson, Eric Wedge, who worked in the front office of the Blue Jays, Hensley Meulens, a hitting coach, and Aaron Boone. The Yankees ended choosing Boone and gave him a four-year contract.
Yankees fans, upon learning of the hiring, said Aaron, who? Boone had no managerial experience and was only known for hitting the walk-off homer in 2003. Most fans thought the Yankees should have kept Joe Girardi, but the Yankees wanted a manager that could better communicate with younger players and was not as strict as Girardi.
In the eyes of New York Yankee fans, Boone had some pretty big shoes to fill. The Yankee brass claimed that one of the main factors in his removal, besides his overbearingness, was that he didn’t communicate well with the young players. This was the same manager who brought a young Miami Marlins team that nothing was expected of to fourth place in the National League and was named Manager of the Year in 2006. The first time a Manager of the Year was ever awarded to a manager of a fourth-place team.
It wouldn’t take long to gain some faith in Boone and his approach to management. Boone and the team won 100 games in 2018. At the end of the season, the Yankees won their Wild Card games against the Athletics but lost the divisional series against the Red Sox. In 2019 Boone bettered his record and won 103 games and the AL East. In the postseason, they swept the Minnesota Twins in the divisional series. They went on to the ALCS against the Houston Astros but again excited early in losing to the Astros.
Still, Boone was praised for bringing the team to the postseason with unprecedented injuries. Fast forward to the 2020 coronavirus season when injuries again plagued the Yankees. The Yankees would lose the East to the Tampa Bay Rays. But in the expanded playoffs, the Yankees got a berth in the Wild Card Series sweeping the Cleveland Indians. The Yankees would have to face their foe in the south, the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS. The Yankees lost again.
With their third early exit in a row from the postseason, many began to question Boone’s leadership, at least in the postseason. Boone is now in the last year of his contract, and a contract extension was in question. Maybe in the eyes of the fans, but not so with the Yankee front office. General Manager Brian Cashman made it known he wants Boone to be the manager for the next ten years.
With the New York Yankees’ full faith and a new rotation of pitchers to work with, Aaron Boone will have a chance to prove that Cashman’s faith in him was warranted. The Yankees probably have the best chance of advancing this season than they have had in several years. If Boone fails to win the division that has several weakened teams or has another early exit in the postseason, we may again be having this discussion.