July 18 marks the one-year anniversary of Aaron Boone going “Savage” at the Stadium on home plate umpire Brennan Miller for calling Brett Gardner out on strikes:
“Our guys are f—–g Savages in that box!”
When you attempt to play a baseball season, even if it is just a 60-game, 66-day baseball season, you will need Savages — tough, smart, disciplined, accountable, all-in Savages — everywhere if you plan on being the last team standing.
You will also need the manager to be a Savage.
Someone who can manage the great expectations, manage the game and manage all the personalities and end the Yankees’ 11-year championship drought.
Someone like Aaron Boone.
“I don’t know if anybody knows how to handle this,” Bob Boone told The Post over the phone. “There’s no manager’s guide to how you handle this.
“But I think that he’ll do as good a job as anybody can do.”
Bob Boone — 72-year-old baseball lifer, former player and manager — is Aaron’s father.
He remembers a young boy clutch in baseball, football and basketball, a young man so clutch that he whacked that legendary 2003 ALCS Game 7 walk-off home run off Red Sox reliever Tim Wakefield. But now, as COVID-19 looks to sabotage pinstriped dreams of that elusive 28th World Series championship, the father is certain his son will rise to another occasion.
“I know for me, if I had to have a leader, I’d pick Aaron easily, at whatever it is,” Bob said. “He’s just got that kind of makeup. He’s been that way his whole life. He brings people together.
“Everybody loves Aaron. He cares about people — not just players — he cares about people, and he always has. He brings all kinds of people into the tent, so to speak.”
Aaron Boone, like Joe Maddon and Joe Girardi and Luis Rojas and every other manager, will face sudden and thunderbolt health crises. It will be one of his many daunting challenges.
“Well, his first one is to keep all those guys healthy,” Bob Boone said, adding with a laugh, “He did a very poor job of that last year.”
There is, of course, greater urgency to start fast in this madcap sprint.
“I don’t think you do anything differently,” Bob said. “You go to the park every day to win. Your job is to win that game. It’s not to win 10 games.”
The father was a four-time All-Star catcher who won a World Series with the 1980 Phillies and finally again last season as assistant GM and vice president of player development of the Nationals. The son was driven again to win his first championship almost immediately, after his second season died in Game 6 of the ALCS on Jose Altuve’s ninth-inning walk-off homer off Aroldis Chapman.
Ironically, the father was at Minute Maid Park scouting the Yankees for a potential World Series meeting.
“I wanted to say, ‘Hey, you think [Giancarlo] Stanton will be all right tomorrow, is he gonna play?’ I couldn’t ask him that,” Bob Boone said.
He didn’t have to ask Aaron how long it took him to get over the Altuve crusher.
“Ten seconds. … You can’t spend any time worrying about what happened in the past,” Bob said. “He didn’t have to go to a psychiatrist or anything.”
The father was 371-444 (.455 ) managing the Royals and Reds. When he was fired in late July 2003, Aaron was playing for him.
“He was in a tough spot, ’cause he was my son. … You know, hey, Daddy’s the manager,” Bob said. “I know players would come to him: ‘Hey, what did your dad say about who’s gonna make the team here? Who’s gonna be the 25th guy?’ Aaron always knew to never ask me anything like that.”
Torre-esque in temperament, Aaron Boone has grown at his craft.
“He got the No. 1 job in the world for a sports team,” Bob Boone said, “with no experience as to running it. It takes a very special person to convince somebody else to sign him into that role.”
That very special person would befriend schoolboy classmates and teammates of all status and popularity.
“He would always help the underdog. … He would help anybody,” Bob said.
He perfectly understood Aaron’s Savages rant.
“You gotta stick up for the boys,” Bob said. “It’s probably one of the greatest arguments I ever saw a manager have.”
Savages back in The Bronx.
“These guys are a bunch of guys that are coming here to play, and they’re coming in here to play do-or-die,” Bob Boone said, “and that’s probably the best compliment I could ever give any manager.
“What keeps managers from being fired is how much you get out of your players. … Even if you’re a manager of a 7-Eleven or a grocery store, your job is to make sure that all those people that are helping you run this store, they do the best they can possibly do. And that’s probably the most important part of a manager’s job, is getting the most out of every single guy.”
Savages in the box and on the mound. And in the dugout too.
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