For weeks anyone following postgame reactions of Yankees manager Aaron Boone, especially after a loss, may be used to hearing some variation of “we’ll get better” or the “track record is there”. It is a way to spin off a rash of bad performances by digging into the past, especially 2018 and 2019 when the Yankees won 203 games.
Many watching those comments have been hoping to hear a fiery response that sounds somewhat similar to any of his ejections by umpires such as John Tumpane or Brennan Miller.
It happened Sunday, well at least what passes for fiery nowadays.
It occurred after a disheartening and somewhat lackadaisical 7-0 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies managed by Joe Girardi, who occasionally would give terse responses in a 10-year tenure where he was instructed to handle the media better after his first season in 2008 following Joe Torre, whose pregame briefings were often laced with stories from his playing days.
This time the question pertained to if the Yankees were actually getting used to losing.
The answer was a quick “no”
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And the follow up was “Why not?”
To the why not part, Boone responded in a frustrated tone by saying:
“I know them too well and I don’t think there’s any getting used to freaking losing,” Boone said. “(Heck) no! Get the (Heck) out of there with that!”
It was not exactly Billy Martin yelling three sentences of profanity into a reporter’s tape recorder, a moment referenced in the book “The Worst Team Money Could Buy” about the 1992 Mets. It was not Lou Piniella flipping over a food table or Hal McRae spinning around and flinging a tape recorder to the other side of his office.
For the most part, those days are gone from managerial reactions — perhaps due to the eyeballs watching on regional sports networks postgame coverage or on social media – but they did do crop up on occasion and it did Sunday when the Yankees dropped to 33-32 and 8 1/2 games out of first place behind Tampa Bay, Boston and Toronto.
While there are 94 games left, the returns do not look promising for the Yankees, who are a combined 11-24 in a 35-game stretch sandwiching their 22-8 surge to get over .500 from April 22-May 22.
“We’re gonna find out what kind of character we’re made of,” Boone said. “We’re clearly in the midst of incredibly tough times. We’ve faced it throughout this season. We’re gonna find out what we’re made of and if we’re the team we think we are.”
The team they think they possess is a group capable of hitting endless homers even with a lineup mostly filled with right-handed hitters. Except it is a group in an offense holding one of the worst averages in baseball and among the least productive lineups despite the track record of some players.
“We’re grinding over this as much as we can in conversations postgame,” Boone said. “We’ve addressed some things and changed along the way, and we’re going to keep doing that.”
So far, those things included making 31 outs on the bases and leading the league in hitting into double plays as that number increased to 64.
It all added up to Boone showing signs of testiness to the media for what may be the first time since he succeeded the intense Girardi in Dec. 2017.
With how things are going for the Yankees of late, it is not hard to blame him for showing some emotion instead of espousing similar responses from the previous 31 losses.
It was the capper to a lost weekend that featured Jameson Taillon getting pulled after recording one out and Luis Severino injuring his groin in a rehab start in Brooklyn at virtually the same time.
“It’s embarrassing,” Taillon said Saturday. “It’s humiliating.”
Those are four words that encapsulate how things transpired for the Yankees Sunday, leading to Boone’s rare display of annoyance in his postgame comments.
The lost weekend occurred at a unique time in New York’s sports landscape due to the schedules being altered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NBA started its 72-game season in December and the Nets are still in the second round at a time when the NBA finals normally would have started. The NHL started its 56-game season in January and the Islanders are in the Stanley Cup semifinals at a time when the Stanley Cup final would normally be wrapping up.
And the Mets are the baseball competition for the entertainment dollar in New York and they are offering a more compelling product as stadiums start to reopen to near or full capacity.
Soon Yankee Stadium will reopen with bigger crowds to see a stretch where the Yankees play 14 of 17 home games culminating in a weekend series with the Mets.
There will not be any missives and probably not many comments laced with obvious testiness but it will be interesting to see how the postgame managerial press conference unfolds if the losing continues.