Believe it or not, there was a time early in Aaron Boone’s managerial career when Yankee fans wondered if he was too passive, if he had enough fire.
Who knew that by his sixth year, Boone would become a modern-day Billy Martin or Lou Piniella?
On Thursday night in the Bronx, Boone was tossed in the third inning of a 3-1 Yankees loss to Baltimore for arguing balls and strikes. It was his second ejection in four games, third since May 10th and a MLB-leading fourth this season.
Boone has been ejected 30 times since he began managing in 2018, the most in baseball during that span.
First, to get the nuts and bolts out of the way on this one, Boone is unlikely to face suspension for this one despite home plate umpire Edwin Moscoso’s accusation that Boone was spitting in his face.
Physical contact with an ump merits a suspension, but in this case Boone was clearly just spraying while yelling, and not spitting intentionally. The only other contact came when crew chief Chris Guccione stood in front of Boone to restrain him from Moscoso (bench coach/suddenly part-time skipper Carlos Mendoza also stood in front of Boone to ensure he didn’t go any nuttier). Boone should not expect further discipline.
Zooming out, Boone’s fiery behavior carries two positives and one primary negative.
The positive: word is, Boone’s Yankee bosses have no issue with the semi-regular ejections, believing him to be an excellent manager and chalking the arguments up to his passionate engagement in the game.
Also, Yankee players appreciate that the manager sticks up for them. In this game, Moscoso was missing clear strike calls on pitches by New York starter Clarke Schmidt, and Boone spared a young player the stress of arguing for himself.
“I made it an emphasis to thank him,” Schmidt said. “We’re going to war out there. All players, we’re fighting tooth and nail out there. So to see your manager out there fighting tooth and nail for you as well is a good feeling. I know he’s always gonna have our backs, and you saw that tonight.”
Now for the downside: The men in blue clearly do not like Boone. In fact, one can’t help but wonder if his reputation as an umpfighter earned him a hook that he felt was premature.
Umpires tolerate a certain amount of griping about balls and strikes from the dugout before considering an ejection. In this case, Boone strongly believes that he did not cross any lines.
“I should not have been thrown out of that game,” Boone said.
After the ejection, which came when Boone was in the dugout, he lost his temper — which he said was not so much because of the missed calls, but because of Moscoso’s behavior towards him, specifically a refusal to engage.
“I went out there pretty calmly after I was thrown out,” Boone said. “Again, I should not have been thrown out of that game there. I was very calm, didn’t do much at all. [Guccione] was holding me back, just telling me — so, I didn’t need to be restrained.
“[Moscoso’s] dismissive attitude and walking away, I took exception to. I really didn’t have to be restrained. I was being restrained, and he was keeping in front of me. Nothing bad was going to happen.”
It’s a manager’s job to rally and unify his players, and Boone certainly does that. And the Yankees seem to be playing with an edge this year, which people around the team credit to Boone and center fielder Harrison Bader, another passionate and animated character. Boone has become a culture-defining manager for this franchise.
If umpires, being human beings, decline to give Boone and his team the benefit of the doubt on future calls because of the arguments — well, that won’t be so great for the Yankees.
Hey, when Earl Weaver Jr. is your manager, you take the bad with the significant good.