On December 1st, 2017 the Yankees named Aaron Boone as the next manager of baseball’s most storied franchise. Boone has a memorable history with the Evil Empire, even though his career for the club lasted a single single season. No Yankee fan will ever forget his 11th inning walk-off homerun in Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series against bitter rivals the Boston Red Sox, a homerun that sent the Yankees to the World Series. Boone would have his career in New York unceremoniously cut short the following offseason when he was released for tearing his ACL during a pick-up basketball game. Since retiring in 2010 Boone has served as a Television analyst for ESPN, often appearing on Baseball Tonight and Monday Night Baseball. After longtime General Manager Bryan Cashman surprisingly decided to not retain the accomplished and respected Joe Girardi, Boone faced competition from Giants bench coach Hensley Meulens, Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward, former Indians and Mariners manager Eric Wedge, Yankees bench coach Rob Thomson and the newly retired Carlos Beltran for the heralded position.
Cashman stated, “communication and connectivity” as the attributes he desired and valued in his new manager, characteristics undoubtedly originating from his surprising and enigmatic rift with Girardi. With these priorities in mind, it comes as no surprise then that the personable and affable Boone was ultimately chosen to run the Bronx Zoo. "We also believe Aaron's interpersonal skills and baseball pedigree will allow him to blend well with the systems we have in place, our baseball operations staff and the 25-man roster," explained Cashman. "On a personal level, I look forward to collaborating with [Boone] over the coming years and offering [Boone] the support and resources needed to get the most out of our players." He went on to state that "When we had the opportunity to speak with Aaron and share concepts and ideas, he was able to showcase a variety of traits that we believe will strongly benefit this franchise as we move forward, including an astute mind for the game and a progressive approach to evolving strategies." Reading between the lines however, it becomes clear what Cashman was looking for; a young yes man that could relate to the players, would be accepting of analytics, and most importantly let Cashman directly control the team from not just team’s front office, but from the field as well. In hindsight that made Boone the deal candidate for the job, over the more experienced and less malleable Meulens, Woodward, Wedge, and Thomson, and without the high profile and rawness of the newly retired Beltran.
That is not to imply that Boone will not necessarily be an unsuccessful manager, any listener of his studio analyst can attest he has a mind for the game’s strategy. Moreover, it is arguable if manager’s have anything more than a marginal effect on their teams’ play anyways. However, Cashman power play to remove the beloved but potentially disagreeable Girardi from the picture demonstrated clearly that the GM has completely won over the Steinbrenner’s favor. Moreover, it demonstrated that the perineal contender and potential future dynasty that the Yankees are on the cusp of will be Cashman’s and Cashman’s alone, his responsibility, and his potential career defining achievement. By letting go an extremely successful, touted, and popular manager in Girardi, the Yankees are taking a risk and clearly not abiding by the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. They fired a man who has won Manager of the Year, a World Series, overachieved expectation season after season, and last year guided the Yankees to one game of the World Series (with a team predicted many to finish last in the weakest American League East in recent memory). This deposed king of the game’s installed successor is Boone, a man with no managerial experience and who’s entire baseball career is essentially built off a single homerun. One can only hope that Boone’s Bomber doesn’t come crashing down in flames