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Perspectives Following the Blue Jays Series

by Paul Semendinger

April 15, 2021

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If there is one thing that is certain, the Yankees sure give us a lot to write about and ponder…

Regarding Aaron Hicks and his decision not to play the other night, there are times when all employees, for whatever reason, need a day off. Aaron Hicks needed a day. I am glad he was honest about this and talked to his manager about it. In any organization, on any team, and in any group, it is essential, imperative in fact, that the management and the employees have open and honest discussions. The stress that has been put on so many in so many ways over the last year (plus) has been tremendous. Sometimes, for any number of reasons, a person needs a break. Baseball players are not immune from this. As much as we’d like it to be different, they are also not superheroes. They are people. We often wish they weren’t – we wish that they were above everything else and able, magically, and heroically, to rise above it all to make the great catch, the big pitch, or produce the clutch hit always. None of that is realistic. Aaron Hicks needed a day. We all do from time to time, it’s just that for most of us, when we miss a day of work, it’s not broadcast on TV and in the newspapers.

Aaron Hicks is a human being, just like all of us, with feelings, fears, hopes, desires, and dreams. It would be nice if we all saw each other as fellow human beings and all worked together to focus on that.

Regarding the comments in the Game Threads and otherwise, please keep it focused on baseball. I understand the desire to discuss other issues, but this is a place to talk baseball. Let’s leave the other stuff for other sites. Also, always, please keep it respectable and clean and appropriate.

From a baseball standpoint, taking the day off might help Aaron Hicks. Who knows? Sometimes that off day works wonders. A day to clear one’s head can be a tonic. Knowing that one has the support of his teammates and manager is also very important.

It seems as though Kyle Higashioka is now Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher. I have no problem with that. Gary Sanchez can’t catch every game. If Higashioka and Cole work this well together, the Yankees should just let it work. But, they should be honest about it. Don’t say, “He’s not the personal catcher.” Call it what it is and move forward.

A long time ago, one of my sons, when he was very little, got a stuffed animal and named him Kyle. I asked him why he gave the animal that name. He responded, “Because Kyle makes me smile.” I love John Sterling’s home run call for Kyle Higashioka where he uses those same words because it brings me back decades to remember the wonder, the sweetness, and the beauty of childhood. That innocence, that wonder, that specialness is, to me at least, so much of what life really is about.

At its best, baseball, for me at least (and I am sure for so many others), is that escape to help us get away from the tensions of the day, the stress in our own lives, the angst… and so much more. Baseball has always promoted its past because that is a big part of why we look back. We are nostalgic for our youth and the wonder it produced. When I see Ron Guidry and Reggie Jackson and Nettles, Sparky, Munson, Mick the Quick, and so many others, it brings me back to when I fell in love with the game – and this team.

I hope Kyle Higashioka hits many more homers for the Yankees. That will never get old (even though I have).

Can we start a poem, “Gerrit Cole and pray for a week of rain?”

Call me crazy, but I still think Jamison Taillon and Corey Kluber will be fine and that they will win a bunch of games for the 2021 Yankees.

Even with Kluber and Taillon (and Cole) (and probably others) pitching well, I am growing more and more concerned with this team. They have no fire. They only swing from the fences. This is now three out of four years (with the truncated 2020 being the only exception) that the Yankees under Aaron Boone came out of the gate flat. I’m sorry, but that has to be a reflection on the manager. It has to be. If it isn’t, then what is a reflection of the manager? If they Yankees were playing well, he’d be getting the credit and the accolades. As such, he deserves the blame for this sluggish start and for the fact that sluggish starts have become the norm under his tenure.

I think it’s a fair question to ask, now after many years of observing, if the Yankees made a bad choice handing the keys to a championship level team to a manager with no experience at all in leading a team. Aaron Boone seems like a great guy. The players seem to love him. (They, though, don’t seem to play hard for him.) The media seems to love him. There has been no controversy on the team. It all seems to run well from the clubhouse management perspective, but what we have not seen is a strong championship caliber team – one that plays fundamentally sound high quality baseball that’s fun to watch.

We’ve also seen, for four years now, the Yankees get out-classed, out-played, and out-hustled, by the better teams in the league. At some point, that has to reflect poorly on the manager and his coaching staff.

I wrote early in the off-season that the Yankees were trying a coaching strategy that has not produced a winner, at least in the last 21 years. Maybe this was poor planning…

I know there are those who have mocked or discounted my statements (for years now) that the Yankees need left handed hitting. The proof that I have been correct is the fact that Boone himself (and he operates with Brian Cashman as part of the decision making process) has batted Aaron Hicks and Brett Gardner third and Jay Bruce higher in the order than he should be batting just because they’re left-handed. It it wasn’t an issue (but, sadly it is), Boone wouldn’t do that. His actions prove that the Yankees’ planning was flawed. For years now. To get the necessary left-handed bats, Aaron Boone puts inferior bats in prime positions – ONLY because they are left-handed. Boone’s actions prove my point absolutely correct. He (and the Yankees) are desperate for some quality lefthanded bats – and they have been for a long time.

After playing their next five games against Tampa and the Atlanta Braves, the Yankees get to face the Cleveland team, the Orioles, and the Tigers. They have those clubs for eleven consecutive games. If the Yankees don’t beat up on those teams…then what?

If the Yankees are still playing like this by the end of May, will it be time to get a new manager that can change the dynamics and turn this around?

Can Aaron Boone turn this around?

Will he?

I still remain hopeful, but my confidence is growing weaker every day.

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