Before we get into the post itself, I wanted to take a moment and recognize Ken Singleton, YES broadcaster, who’s retiring after today’s telecast. Ken’s professionalism, passion, and love for the game of baseball have all been a joy and a privilege to hear over my many years of baseball fandom. Without a doubt, he is my favorite play-by-play announcer in the game and his color commentary is also near flawless. He knows baseball inside and out from a life well-lived in the game. He appreciates the players of today. He is knowledgeable without being a know it all. He is informative without being condescending. He is funny and witty without trying too hard. And, let’s be honest, his voice is a perfect voice for baseball. He will be sorely missed in the YES booth and we here at Views wish him well in all his future endeavors and time with his family. Thank you, Kenny, for sharing your love of baseball with us for so many years. We love you.
One way or another, the Yankees’ regular season will come to a close today with the playoffs on the line. Given their two losses on Friday and yesterday, they brought this stressful end onto themselves. We learned post-game yesterday that Jameson Taillon will be getting the ball for the Yankees and that seems appropriate.
Taillon was the latest in a long line of acquisitions by the Yankee front office aimed at catching lightning in a bottle or tapping some heretofore untapped potential. Michael Pineda. Nathan Eovaldi. Sonny Gray. James Paxton Those moves did not work out. This one….sort of has.
Like the Yankees themselves, Taillon has had an up and down season. There have been rough patches and stretches of brilliance, including a Pitcher of the Month award. But, for the most part, Taillon stayed healthy and adapted to pitching full time for the first time in a long time. And he did it while altering his mechanics as well as both his pitch selection and strategy; that is no easy feat. It’s also why it’s so fitting that he’s the one pitching with the season quite literally on the line today.
However unfair it is, because it is one game, etc., this moment is now a referendum on the Yankee organization itself. Always eager to prove how smart they are, they acquired Taillon (and Corey Kluber in this mold) to show they could unlock something, they could turn him around. To an extent, they have, but to paraphrase Mr. Quint, it hasn’t always been pleasant. The same goes for the season itself. Winning streaks, losing streaks. Looking unbeatable, looking like a high school team. Now, their decision is on the line, and not just the one to acquire Taillon.
The Yankees have shown near unwavering faith in Aaron Boone despite almost all evidence to the contrary that they shouldn’t. Friday night’s bullpen debacle speaks both for itself and to a common pattern throughout this year and Boone’s tenure. This year more than any I can remember well, the manager has legitimately cost the Yankees games with baffling decisions and wishy-washy justifications. It’s true, of course, that managing is much more a collaborative effort with the front office now than it ever has been, but that speaks ill on the Yankees, too. Perhaps his calmness is a strength over the course of 162 games, but with the season on the line, it looks like a lack of urgency.
There is, quite clearly, a system in place, a plan for making decisions. It’s virtually a script. At times this year, that plan, that strategy, that script, has been lacking. Hopefully, no matter what happens today, the Yankees use the offseason to look inward and revise some of their practices.
None of this is to say that I don’t think the Yankees can win today or whatever game(s) they end up playing beyond today. They’re still a good team that can outpitch or outhit poor managing. And, let’s be real, until their final out is recorded, I’m going to believe they’re going to win the World Series. This is to say, though, that the team has made things hard on itself in so many ways and now it’s up to one of their big physical and intellectual investments to pay off and push them through.
Let’s go, Jameson. We believe in you and that high fastball.