There’s really no such thing as job security in the court of public opinion when it comes to sports — especially in New York.
On Tuesday night, Yankees manager Aaron Boone opened himself up to all the harsh criticism that comes with armchair quarterbacks, managers, and superstars alike after his puzzling opener decision in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Boone opted to start 21-year-old Deivi Garcia after his Yankees took a 1-0 series lead, but the youngest postseason starter in franchise history was left in for just one innings before being lifted for veteran southpaw JA Happ.
It was a move that the Rays have employed often over the last few seasons — an analytics-driven strategy that has made the small-market club that much more of a competitor. But Boone’s decision to out-Rays the Rays blew up in his face.
Happ gave up four runs in 2.2 innings of work as the Yankees dropped Game 2.
“Their roster is built to take advantage of the platoon advantage,’’ Boone said after the game. “I felt like I was going to go to J.A. pretty early as long as they were going with the heavy lefty lineup.”
“We were trying to force their hand a little early in the game. Unfortunately, it didn’t work.”
Happ didn’t spend too much time throwing Boone under the bus, either.
“Yeah, they know how I felt about it. But ultimately, I pitch when I pitch,” he said said. “You got me there with no hesitation and no dwelling on what was going on. I was focused and trying to perform. I wish I would have done a better job.”
Boone’s questionable decision-making — whether it was forced by GM Brian Cashman or not — has the Yankees needlessly tied in the ALDS. His decision to start the inexperienced Garcia in the first place seemed like he was punting away Game 2 when the experienced, playoff proven Masahiro Tanaka was available and ready to go.
To put it plainly, Boone is finding a way to stall the equivalent of a suped-up Lamborghini that was all ready to hit the track and win the big race. With a team and loaded roster like this, it’s better to stick to the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid).
His overthinking, though, got us thinking about the state of managers and head coaches on the New York City-area sports scene. So decided to rank them from best to worst:
1) Barry Trotz- New York Islanders
Before Tortz arrived on Long Island, the Islanders were a hapless, hopeless NHL franchise mired in three decades-worth of ineptitude. In just two years, he completely changed the culture around and brought a roster made up largely of afterthoughts and throwaways to the Eastern Conference Final last month.
2) Tom Thibodeau- New York Knicks
This is me really putting the cart before the horse, but wherever Thibodeau has gone, his teams have been competitive — even if some have been dysfunctional. Regardless, some form of stability will do wonders for the Knicks if they can properly navigate this offseason.
3) David Quinn- New York Rangers
Quinn oversaw the Rangers’ ahead-of-schedule rebuild that was put into overdrive by the acquisition of Artemi Panarin and managed to get the Rangers back into the playoffs this year. It was no easy task, given a struggling defense and a three-headed goaltending situation, but the young head coach handled it well.
4)Steve Nash- Brooklyn Nets
Once again, I’m counting chickens before the eggs hatch, but Nash really doesn’t have to do much to be successful in Brooklyn — which is why I have him in the middle of the list. With no head-coaching experience, all he has to do is keep Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving happy and he’ll be just fine. Given his reputation as a well-respected basketball mind, that shouldn’t be a problem.
5) Joe Judge- New York Giants
The Giants are horrendous but Judge has a shorthanded and unimpressive roster buying into his system and at least showing some fight. A lean year was certainly expected in 2020 and their 0-4 start is living up to expectations, but they’ve been in large portions of three of those four games.
6) Aaron Boone- New York Yankees
The Yankees were supposed to run away with the American League East crown this year and coast through to the World Series. That hasn’t been the case. Boone has made some befuddling decisions at the helm this season, wasting any brownie points he received last year from navigating a team decimated by injuries to over 100 wins.
7) Luis Rojas- New York Mets
The 39-year-old first-year manager was thrown into an unfair situation in his debut season: A pandemic, star players opting out, ownership speculation, and common bad luck that only the Mets seemingly find. But Rojas didn’t do himself any favors with the way he filled out the lineups, keeping his most productive youngsters on the bench to play veteran names while the bullpen was managed horrendously.
8) Adam Gase- New York Jets
I can’t believe he’s on this list, still. He should’ve been fired a few weeks ago as his lifeless team is only stunting the growth of franchise quarterback Sam Darnold. But here he still is, and the Jets remain a dumpster fire in all aspects.
Is it weird to break out the marshmallows?