The Problem Is Bigger than Cashman and Boone
The Problem Is Bigger than Cashman and Boone
by Lincoln Mitchell
August 10, 2023
Many Yankees fans want Brian Cashman to be fired. Even more fans think Aaron Boone should be fired. For me it is axiomatic that both Boone and Cashman need to go. That is the starting point what from which any serious discussion about building a better Yankees team needs to begin, but Boone and Cashman are not the root of the problem.
I have been a Yankees fan for a very long time. Growing up in San Francisco, I naturally became a Giants fan at a very young age. However, rooting for the Yankees was a way to stay connected to my New York City family and roots, and to keep that part of my identity strong. To give you a sense of how long I've been a Yankees fan, and yes how old I am, my first exciting baseball memory of the Yankees was watching the 1976 ALCS. The one moment from that series that I will always remember is Chris Chambliss's walk off home run in Game 5. That home run made an eight-year-old watching on a black and white television in San Francisco a Yankees fan for life.
Chambliss’s dramatic home run occurred a long time ago. To put it in perspective, there were fewer years between Babe Ruth's called shot in the 1932 World Series and that 1976 ALCS, then between that home run and the present. Most of the Yankees fans I know are roughly my age or younger. I have a couple of friends in their 70s who grew up rooting for the Mantle and Berra Yankees and are still fans, but those are exceptions. I know almost no Yankees fans who remember seeing Joe DiMaggio play and obviously none who saw Ruth or Gehrig.
Over the almost half century during which I rooted for the Yankees I've seen some great Yankees players including Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Aaron Judge, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, Thurman Munson, Rickey Henderson, Willie Randolph, Graig Nettles Ron Guidry, Andy Pettitte and more. Over the last 28 years the Yankees have only had three managers, Joe Torre, Joe Girardi, and now Aaron Boone. However, before 1996, the Yankees changed managers very frequently. Buck Showalter, Bob Lemon, Stump Merrill, Dick Howser and Billy Martin were hired and then rapidly fired. In Martin’s case, that happened several times. Brian Cashman has been the general manager long time, but before him there were many general managers who had brief or not so brief tenures with the Yankees.
That is the frame through which I understand the current Yankees team.
Over the last 45 years there have been great and not so great players, countless exciting moments, too many disappointments and indeed many eras for the Yankees, but there has been one constant. I have very few friends who can remember rooting for a Yankee team that was not owned by the Steinbrenner family.
Younger Yankees fans may not realize just what the George Steinbrenner years were like particularly in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He definitely built some winning teams and clearly wanted the Yankees to win, but he also had an approach that was destructive, even pathological. Steinbrenner was driven and willing to spend money, but he was also a bully who shouted down people, too frequently refused to listen to people who understood baseball better than he did, was impatient and always found a way to be at the center of attention.
My recollections of the Steinbrenner era make it impossible for me to look at the Yankees now and not see that the dysfunction begins with the Hal Steinbrenner, and the trauma associated with being George Steinbrenner’s son that he so clearly still carries. Building a good baseball team today requires not just an excellent front office and on the field manager, strong player development and a competent medical team-all things the Yankees lack, but it requires ownership that is willing to spend money, understands how baseball in this decade works, is knowledgeable and appropriately confident in their own judgment. Hal Steinbrenner simply does not meet any of those criteria. The amateur psychologist in me looks at him and sees a traumatized little boy still trying to please his father-and that is no recipe for a winning baseball team.
So, if you ask me should the Yankees fire Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman the answer is yes. If you ask me whether the Yankees need to revamp their player development, coach better during the season, and find a medical staff that knows how to diagnose and address injuries and other health issues, the answer to all those questions is also yes. However, I also fear that the Yankees will never be a winning team as long as Hal Steinbrenner is the owner, but I also know that the one thing the Hal Steinbrenner believes would disappoint his father more than anything else is if he ever sold the team.