I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. I, like you, only receive hearsay that’s gone through multiple channels then brought to us by “reporters” who have long histories of intellectual laziness. So I’m going to speak about the process that should be involved in the Yankee managerial hiring, and you can apply that to the Yankees’ situation however you see fit.
There is a premise in sports at play here that virtually never gets addressed that underlies the silliness of sports analysis, and by extension, the people who scream about it on sports radio and social media. The premise of which I write, is that it’s normal for a middle manager to make decisions that can have grave consequences for the entire organization. These decisions are made every day from April to October.
That is where we are. Almost all positions about Aaron Boone – supportive, critical, skeptical – are based on that nonsensical premise. Again, by extension, that makes the resultant conversation nonsensical.
Imagine you’re a business owner: You hire the employee, you train the employee, you instruct him on how to work and act in his various roles. From April through October, this employee makes decisions against your advice and guidance that have a negative impact on your business. And after these decisions that negatively affect your business are made outside of your directives, the employee after the screw up says into a microphone something along the lines of “Well, I had a feeling my way would work better…”
No. Way. Buh, bye.
Imagine you’re an employee: You go into work every day and willfully disregard the advice of your superiors. And when you’re called on it, your only defense is something along the lines of “Well, you never did my job, you don’t know what you’re talking about!” Needless to say, after telling the world you screwed up your bosses’ business because “You had a feeling”, then telling your superiors they don’t know what they’re talking about (which in this case, is because they weren’t born as uber-athletes), you will lose your job. Deservedly so.
Again, I don’t have any inside information here. But it does make me wonder:
Did Bo Porter and Rick Renteria think and act that way? Is that why other managers were in the Astros’ and Cubs’ dugouts for the last two World Series wins? There must’ve been some reason they were good enough to start the re-builds but not finish (…?)
Is that why Joe Torre was low balled a contact offer in ’08? Did Brain Cashman realize that someone who told him don’t forget the players’ “heartbeat” wasn’t the right guy for the job ongoing? Did Cashman sense his opportunity to get away from the past – hence the low ball offer, he knew would be refused? If so, well played Mr. Cashman.
No, pretty much everywhere else in the world, this situation doesn’t exist. Middle managers act upon the directives and philosophies of the organization. They do not go rogue based on gut feelings – they follow orders.
Sandy Alderson spoke about this decades ago. Alderson, coming from a military background, was intimately aware of what would happen in the military if a Major disregarded a General’s directives.
A big part of a book and movie were precisely about this topic. Billy Beane (or Brad Pitt, depending on your perspective) asked what is the point of me putting together a roster and a strategic philosophy if that strategy is going to be ignored by an underling? I think we all agree, that’s a fair question.
And for all the “old school” people out there (I literally can’t type “old school” without cringing – seriously, rotary phones are old school – who calls themselves “old school” and thinks it’s a good thing?), please take note: The Astros, Dodgers, Indians and Cubs do it the manager as the middle part of a hierarchy way – how have they been doing the past few years?
In fact, I’ll take it one step further: I would argue that Terry Francona and Joe Maddon are still employed when most guys their age and experience are not, is precisely because of their understanding of the organizational totem pole. Joe Maddon bats stocky outfielders leadoff instead of skinny fast guys and he bats his best player 2nd. Francona uses his best pitcher in a tie game regardless of the inning. They do these things because their hierarchical superiors explained to them that those are the right moves, based on percentages. They implement the strategies of the organization.
So back to Aaron Boone. I don’t think it matters who the Yankees’ manager is. It simply needs to be somebody who the players like and respect, who can handle the media, and who can take orders. That’s it.
Don’t get me wrong: Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. Getting the respect of professional athletes isn’t easy and not losing your shit with the dolts on the YES network is a very difficult task, which is why Aaron is going to get a nice paycheck. But it is that simple. Players like you, you can handle repetitive dumb questions, you can take orders – you’re hired.
On a personal level, I would’ve preferred Carlos Beltran. He literally just stepped out of the dugout of a World Series winner as part of one of the best three organizations in the sport. He obviously is respected by today’s players, he’s clearly a student of the game and he’s familiar with what the NY media will bring.
But again, it doesn’t really matter – until it matters. The team whose players play better will win nine times out of ten. But if that one time is in October, and it’s the 7th inning of a tie game, will Boone go to his best pitcher? Or will he keep his best pitcher in the bullpen so he can be ready for a (possible) save situation in the 9th?
Only time will tell. I hope he’s up to the task.