The often scrutinized, over-analytical Aaron Boone earned his pinstripes following the Wild Card Game
The Yankees had their fair share of superstar performances in Wednesday’s Wild Card matchup. Judge, Stanton, Voit, Severino, Betances, and company were all key contributors and played their part in last night’s victory. However, the man who wrote out the lineup card, chose the starting pitcher, maneuvered the bullpen, and made late-game substitutions deserves just as much credit for the victory. Boone was often said to be out of his element as a first-year manager and last night proved otherwise.
Aaron Boone led the Yankees to 100 wins in his first-year of professional coaching at any level, but for many fans that wasn’t enough. The cries for Girardi were adamant during the dog days of summer as the Yankees appeared to limp into September being a mediocre baseball team for the majority of the summer. Almost every loss or poor play was thrown onto Boone. Boone is too nice to the players, Boone only cares about the stats, Boone doesn’t have that killer instinct. These are just a few of numerous complaints uttered by Yankee fans throughout the season, and at some points during the season, I was on their side.
The constant off days, questionable lineup decisions and bullpen usage, and lack of fire made me constantly think about how much better this team could have been with Girardi. Sure, they were playoff bound, but the amount of talent on this team made me think they hadn’t even come close to reaching their potential, partially because of who was at the helm of the staff. Then, came a Friday night game against the Tigers.
Boone’s Yanks were getting no-hit by an abysmal adversary, and Boone had seen enough of it. After some questionable calls from home plate umpire Nic Lentz, Boone rushed out of the dugout and was tossed for arguing balls and strikes. He imitated the catchers’ squat and was showing Lentz how to do his job. He stormed off, and his team responded. They broke out of their hitting woes and erupted for seven runs in three innings to beat the lowly Tigers. For me, this was a turning point for my opinion on Boone. The deemed “puppet” of the front office was fighting for his team on his own terms. The Wild Card Game then cemented the fact that he belongs and is thriving.
He went with his gut and started Severino. In the words of David Cone, he did not leave the Ferrari in the garage. He went with his ace, and he did not disappoint as he allowed only a single hit over 4+ scoreless. He pitched Dellin Betances in a spot that many expected Green or Robertson to appear in AND allowed Betances to go a second inning, something that seemed to lead to implosions all during the regular season. Betances was arguably the MVP of the game. He pulled Andujar early on for defensive purposes, and Hechavarria rewarded him with a Michael Jordan leap to make the most sensational play of the night. The Gary Sanchez haters pleaded for Boone to start Romine for defensive purposes, and Boone was assertive Sanchez was starting the game. Sanchez rewarded him with one of his best defensive games in ages.
Boone made the right move in every scenario, and most importantly demonstrated, trust in his players. While stats mean a lot, especially to the Yankees’ brass, the trust Boone had in his players to perform could not have been more crucial to the exceptional performances in this contest. The stats would have said, start Happ, don’t pitch Dellin with runners on or for multiple innings, keep Andujar in a little longer for offense, start Romine who’s hit and fielded better than Gary in 2018.
Boone defied all of the logic and went with his perfectly executed game plan. Sure, it could be foolish to ignore all the stats compiled over a 162-game regular season, but that is the point. The regular season is over. In postseason baseball, a do-or-die situation, a manager goes with his gut, and this exactly what Aaron Boone did. Boone may be a first-year manager, but there are managers with decades of experience who have yet to be able to master this craft of player connections and strategy. And for that reason, Boone made me a firm-believer that he is way more than the trade deadline acquisition that homered against Boston. He is an incredible manager that is here to stay. Let's see what he can do against Boston.
Article by: Ryan Thoms
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