Aaron Boone has been known to a generation of Red Sox fans as Aaron F–king Boone, thanks to an extra-inning, playoff series-winning home run that extended their championship drought into an 85th and what proved to be final consecutive season. That’s one more American League championship and World Series appearance than he’s won as Yankees manager.
For the first four calendar months of 2022, that all looked like history, as the Yankees steamrolled their way toward a record victory pace buoyed by what was at the time a record home run pace by soon-to-be free agent Aaron Judge. They opened up what at one point was a 15.5-game lead on the American League East, visions of bettering the 1998 125-win world championship team were rampant, and even the supplemental stories were of a feel-good nature. The resurrection of Matt Carpenter’s career. The return to form of Giancarlo Stanton. The All-Star appearance of Nestor Cortes, Junior.
But when the dog days of August began, the Yankees turned into a cur. It’s not just the fact they are losing–15 of 19 games so far, the latest being their third consecutive home loss to the now-surging second place Toronto Blue Jays yesterday, a 5-2 defeat on an otherwise ideal summer afternoon day in the Bronx. They are losing without scoring. A sum total of 21 runs in the last 11 games, which include three shutouts. Even Gerrit Cole, the $324 million ace, can’t seem to find enough support to secure a win (much to my chagrin; I just traded for him on my fantasy team).
Carpenter is now gone for the regular season, having suffered a fractured ankle last week. Stanton has been hurt, an all-to-familiar refrain since he joined the Yanks. Cortes, who has been on a pace for a record number of innings pitched in an otherwise pedestrian major league career, all of a sudden looks mortal. Aaron Hicks, who has suffered slumps before, is now in the midst of a true atrophy that has all but assured he will lose his job permanently once trading deadline acquisition Harrison Bader is ready to play. Frankie Montas, the bigger deadline boost to the pitching staff, has been horrendous since his acquisition from Oakland. The two pitchers the Yankees traded in their deals, Jordan Montgomery of the Cardinals (for Bader) and J.P. Sears (for Montas) have been outstanding.
Well, that’s baseball, Suzyn. But not the kind of baseball that has Yankees fans confident of October/November. And at this point, Boone’s inclined to empathize fully with their viewpoint. Yesterday, in a post-game press conference, Aaron F–king Boone slammed a table, using that epithet several times under his breath to describe his own feelings and vented his frustration to anyone within eye or ear-shot. Per NJ.com:
“You can ask all these questions in regards … We’ve answered them until we’re blue in the face. We’ve got to go out and do it. I gotta quit answering these questions about this date. We’ve got to play better period. And the great thing is …
“It’s right in front of us. It’s right here. And we can fix it. It’s right here. It’s there and we can run away with this thing. And we got the dudes in there to do it. We’ve got to do it.”
And it’s not like opportunity isn’t still there. Even with the losses to the Jays, the Yankees still have a seven-game lead with roughly a month and a half to go. They are a virtual lock to make the post-season in some form. And even stalled at 45 home runs, Judge is still well within reach of a record home run output for himself. Carpenter has vowed to return for the playoffs. And they do have four games in Oakland next weekend against the doomed A’s, who even with Sears are the nadir of the league. Montas is scheduled to start a game there as well, with more than a smattering of pride and personal redemption at stake.
It can still be an epic season for the Yankees. Or it can be an historic collapse. If the latter occurs, the likelihood of both Aarons leaving the scene are enhanced. For Judge, it will only mean an even more lucrative payday with the pious hope he may have a championship ahead somewhere else–a true shame were that to occur, since in success he is perhaps poised to be the successor to Derek Jeter in stature, long-term respect and, of course, compensation.
For Boone–well, let’s just say it’s high time his team learned how to score runs again. Or else, one might say, they’re all f–ked.