Photo: Charles Krupa/AP
Yankees manager Aaron Boone offered a preposterous quote after the Yankees’ season-ending 6-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox in the AL wild-card game on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
He mentioned the league has closed the gap on the Yankees to explain another disappointment in the playoffs.
He managed the Yankees for four years, and this was the best he could come up with. This shows right there all the problems the Yankees have. The Yankees manager is clearly out of touch and out of tune about the team’s problems.
The Yankees haven’t won a championship and experienced a World Series trip for 12 years. For Boone to say the league has closed the gap is laugh-out-loud funny.
Here’s what he should have said about his team: There is no mystique and aura anymore. There are no leaders. There is a lack of accountability on the team. Plus, the organization has a flawed philosophy on winning games.
Besides the Minnesota Twins, no team is scared to play the Yankees anymore. This itself is a problem. When the small-market Tampa Bay Rays go 22-12 against the Yankees in the last two seasons, that explains everything that is wrong about the Yankees in a nutshell. The Rays relish beating the Yankees, who seem to roll over for them just like they do for the Red Sox.
This is just the cherry of the Yankees’ problems right there.
The Yankees have no leadership. There is no guy out there who can lead by example such as stepping up in a big spot. Most of the hitters do well when the game is out of reach. They don’t make good defensive plays. Their pitchers don’t get the much-needed strikeout or outs to get out of the inning. This is a far cry from what those 90s Yankees teams did.
Want to know what’s damning about this team? Their core players wilt in big moments. When was the last time anyone can say Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez had a moment like Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill and Derek Jeter? They may be nice players that are just good enough to perform in the regular season.
Yankees fans and the local media here anointed Judge, Torres and Sanchez way too soon. Judge showed potential that he can be the Yankees next Jeter when he hit big-moment home runs in the 2017 and 2018 postseason. But since then, he has done next to nothing. Torres and Sanchez have become such headcases that both need a change of scenery for them to play to their potential again.
The hitters relish going up against the Yankees pitchers since there is no one that is intimidating. It’s hard to take Gerrit Cole seriously as a big-game pitcher when he gave up two home runs in the first few innings of the game and exited in the third inning. The Yankees bullpen is overrated at best.
It’s remarkable not one Yankee expressed outrage about this one-and-out show. This is a problem. The Yankees of the 90s featured guys such as Jorge Posada, Scott Brosius, Andy Pettitte, Williams, O’Neill, Martinez, and Jeter who expressed their distaste for losing.
It would have been nice if Judge, Torres, Sanchez or Giancarlo Stanton would say this is unacceptable. They said nothing, and that’s disappointing. This shows the lack of makeup and personality they have to win games. They don’t have that alpha personality to get the job done.
It would be nice if there is accountability in the organization, but there is not. Accountability died the minute George Steinbrenner died. Now players can fail without repercussions. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Boone worked with no sense of urgency of winning championship No. 28 these last few years since they are in no danger of losing their jobs.
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner is not his father. He is not invested in the games and wins and losses. As long as he is making money, that’s a win for him. His approach of running the Yankees is creating a country-club environment of no pressure, and it has turned into a disaster all around.
It will be stunning if Cashman or Boone or both lose their jobs. Steinbrenner expressed no desire to hire a general manager with a fresh look at building a team. Cashman wants to hire a manager that he can control rather than hire a manager that can manage on his own intuition, so Boone likely stays since he would accept being Cashman’s puppet.
Why should Cashman or Boone have any sense of urgency when there is no accountability for them? When there is no accountability for both of them from ownership, players don’t need to be held accountable, either.
The Yankees have a flawed approach to the game under Cashman and Boone. The Yankees general manager focused on getting so many hairy monsters that hit home runs that he forgot that he needs players who can play small ball to win games in the postseason. When the Yankees won championships in the 90s, they won by doing the little things such as stealing bases, extending singles into doubles and moving runners over. Now, they wait for the three-run home run that never comes.
Until they change, it will be the same old thing. They have done this for the last few years with no results. At some points, changes have to be made, no?
The Yankees problem starts from within, not because other teams have caught up to them.
Until the Yankees really are honest with themselves, we will see more results like Tuesday night and the last 12 years.