The end of the New York Yankees season has finally arrived. After facing insurmountable odds, winning four elimination games in a row to punch their tickets to the World Series, the Bronx Bombers fell to the Houston Astros in the ALCS.
Over the course of MLB playoff history, that's a feat that only one other MLB team has accomplished. The 2004 Boston Red Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit in the American League Championship Series. The team they beat: The New York Yankees.
However, as the final out was recorded, the Yankees found themselves in a similar position to their 2004 predecessors, watching the visiting team celebrate a World Series berth at Yankee Stadium. To add insult to injury, the Yankees are now the first team in MLB history to lose five consecutive ALCS appearances, dating back to 2010.
With every loss this postseason, calls from the Yankees fans to move on from manager Aaron Boone grow louder. While some are begging the Steinbrenner family to sell the team, those calling for Boone's removal may finally get their wish.
No Experience Necessary for Aaron Boone as Manager
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In October 2017, the New York Yankees parted ways with manager Joe Girardi. He had just bowed out of the playoffs after losing Game 7 of the ALCS to the Houston Astros, and the club decided not to offer him a new contract. General Manager Brian Cashman and the rest of the franchise's front office decided it was time to move on from Girardi, who had led the team to the postseason six times, winning a World Series with the Yanks in 2009. Cashman offered a few different reasons for the decision and also discussed what he was looking for in a candidate to fill the vacancy. Two months later, they found their man.
Boone was hired on a three-year contract, though he'd never managed at any level in baseball before. He played in the MLB over 13 years, donning uniforms for a handful of clubs. Perhaps most notably, he wore Yankee pinstripes in 2003. He was traded from the Cincinnati Reds in July of that season. But his biggest contribution in the Bronx came in the postseason. The Yankees faced the rival Boston Red Sox in the ALCS, and the series would go to a decisive 7th game. In the bottom of the 11th inning at Yankee Stadium, Boone stepped to the plate and instantly etched his name in New York Yankees history with a walk-off home run. He retired as a player after the 2009 season and pivoted to the broadcast booth. In December 2017, he became "New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone".
A Successful Run in Pinstripes
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Despite being brand new to the position, Boone enjoyed early success with the franchise. The team won 100 games or more in his first two seasons, making the playoffs both times. In fact, since taking the job, Boone has led the team to the postseason every year. Some would say that's not surprising, given the names up and down the roster. Guys like Aaron Judge and Luis Severino headlined a squad built for continued success. Despite the positive record, Boone's tenure was in question at the end of the 2021 season. The team was eliminated in the Wild Card game, extending the streak of seasons without a World Series appearance. In the postseason, Boone wasn't getting the job done. Questions were being asked about his managerial decisions -- specifically, his bullpen management. His initial three-year contract was up after the 2021 season, and many thought, or felt, it was time for a change. During the offseason, Cashman opted to sign Boone to a new three-year contract, keeping him in the dugout in the Bronx through 2024, with an option for the 2025 season.
Highs and Lows of 2022 for the Yankees
With the new contract done and dusted, Boone and the Yankees entered the 2022 season looking to build on their success in recent years while also wanting to get over the postseason hump. Things got off to a roaring start, as free-agent signing Anthony Rizzo helped propel the Yanks to a 50-17 start to the season.
Boone was pushing all the right buttons, making all the right decisions, and saying all the right things. Then, the wheels started to fall off. They did a 180 and began to spiral downward. Maybe their lead was so large that they began to get complacent. Injuries to Giancarlo Stanton and Matt Carpenter didn't help to be sure. Josh Donaldson was a shell of himself offensively. Even Aaron Judge cooled off after starting the season on an epic pace. Batters up and down the lineup were suddenly struggling. Relievers were shuffled around, and calls to "Fire Boone" began getting louder as the downturn dragged on. The huge division lead they'd built early in the season had shrunk to the single digits. The Toronto Blue Jays were the biggest threat, while the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles were left to battle for the additional wild card slot. In the end, the Bombers managed to play well-enough down the stretch to secure the division title and wrap up the second seed in the AL.
Postseason Results Fail to Impress
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Just like every other season in the Boone era, the Yankees made it to the postseason. It's the team's lack of success in the playoffs that has been the Achilles heel for the manager. After securing the bye in the new playoff format, the club's first opponent was the Cleveland Guardians in the ALDS. The Division Series went to a decisive 5th game, and they were less than convincing as they sent the Guardians packing, setting up another date with the AL's top-seed Houston Astros. Houston's pitching dominated the Yankees lineup, as Yankee batters struck out more than 50 times in the ALCS.
Once again, some of Boone's decisions have left people scratching their heads. Almost like a flashback to 2017, the Astros batters have come up big when it's counted most. Sure, Jose Altuve hasn't been the same hitter he was all season, but Alex Bregman and others have picked up the slack.
All of this combined to push the Yankees to the brink of elimination. Once again, they could not answer the call. Instead, Dusty Baker and the Astros advance to the World Series, where they'll face the Philadelphia Phillies, who just defeated the San Diego Padres. This matchup thankfully avoids a nightmare scenario for Mets fans.
But for Aaron Boone, the nightmare continues. Much like in the movies of the "Scream" franchise, if the phone rings, he shouldn't answer it.
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