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About the Off-Season: Missed it By That Much

About the Off-Season: Missed it By That Much

By Tim Kabel

November 9, 2023


Those of you old enough to remember the TV show, Get Smart, will recall one of Maxwell Smart’s catch phrases was, “Missed it by that much.” He actually used it to describe situations where he was way off the mark. I think we can dust off that expression and apply it to the press conferences of Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman on Tuesday.

We had not heard anything from Cashman or Steinbrenner since the season ended. There were a few remarks that filtered their way out but nothing substantive. This was their first big opportunity to address the fans and the media. Cashman had previously described 2023 as a disaster of a season. On Tuesday, Hal stated that the 2023 season was awful and that the team accomplished nothing.

The owner and the general manager both openly admitted the 2023 season was a failure and were in the witness protection program since the season ended. Therefore, you would have thought they would have specific plans on how to correct the disaster of a season to make sure it didn't happen again. You might have also thought they would have been contrite and addressed the reasons for the failure. Notably, they could have responded to the fans' dissatisfaction with Aaron Boone. They could have made a change of manager. They didn't. By the way, Hal did announce that Boone will be back next year. Apparently, Hal needed to be reassured that keeping Boone was the right move. You might have also thought they would address the analytics department and the mistakes they made. Tuesday was the time for Cashman and Hal to come clean, admit all their errors and tell the fans and the media how things would be different in 2024.Well, they “missed it by that much.”

This is what we got from Hal’s soliloquy. Not only is Boone returning as manager, Hal had conversations with players and other people to help him make that decision. It is interesting to find out that embedded in Hal's circle of trust, is none other than Nick Swisher. Don't get me wrong, Nick Swisher seems to be a delightful chap. I would probably have a great time with him at a barbecue or watching a baseball game. But is he really someone who should be helping shape the New York Yankees? If I knew him well enough, I might ask him what color I should paint my kitchen, but I probably wouldn't ask him about personnel decisions for the Yankees. Hal also defended the analytics department, Brian Cashman, and of course, Boone. His big announcement was that the Yankees would be working more on bunting in the minor leagues, as suggested by Boone, who hardly ever calls for a bunt. They won 82 games last season and finished out of the playoffs, and Hal’s biggest announcement was that they plan on working on bunting. That is like seeing your house burn to the ground and then deciding to plant a shrub in the front yard as the main part of the rebuilding project.

If Hal was out of touch, then Cashman was completely out of control. He was defiant, condescending, and profane. First, I don't consider myself a prude but, the language he used in a press conference was inexcusable. He is supposed to be a professional. Hal should address that but, he will be too busy putting gum on the top of his hat, the way Phil Rizzuto used to when he came up to the plate. By the way, Hal also announced that bundt cake will now be served throughout the stadium

Since Cashman already admitted the season was a disaster, I am not sure why he was so defiant. Yet, he was. He vigorously defended himself, his staff, the on-field personnel, and even the much-maligned analytics department. He went out of his way to rip former prospect Ben Ruta, whom Cashman called “Bitter Boy”. That came across as petulant and unprofessional. Furthermore, it dragged Ruta back into the spotlight and gave him another opportunity to criticize Cashman. It sounds as if Cashman is the one who is bitter.

So, on Tuesday, Cashman and Steinbrenner had an opportunity to make fans feel better about the 2024 season. Although they told us the season was a disaster and totally unacceptable, they defended everyone who works for the team and everything they did. The results just weren't what they wanted. They did not own any of this disaster and vigorously defended, particularly in the case of Cashman, the way they go about their business.

Cashman and Steinbrenner did promise big changes yesterday and stated they would get the Yankees back on the winning path in 2024. I'm confused. If they defended all the people they had working for the organization and everything they did, how can we expect changes, big or otherwise. Cashman and Boone reminded me of the scene in Planes Trains. and Automobiles, when John Candy is driving the wrong way down the highway. A couple driving alongside the highway begins screaming at him, telling him that he's going in the wrong direction. His response is to tell them and his traveling companion, Steve Martin, that they must be drunk, and they have no idea which direction he's going. He then proceeds, full speed ahead. We might as well forget about 2024 and start thinking about 2025, to avoid the rush.

This week, Cashman and Steinbrenner had the opportunity to assuage Yankees’ fans fears about the upcoming season. They have the chance to openly and honestly discuss mistakes that were made and explain the specific changes they would make. Well, in the words of Maxwell Smart, they “missed it by that much”.

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