Aaron Boone heard them loud and clear.
“Oh, yeah,” Boone said late Thursday afternoon, asked if he had heard the “Fi-re Boone!” chants occurring at the Stadium during Wednesday night’s come-from-behind victory over the Rays, the 8-7 win clinched on Josh Donaldson’s walk-off, grand slam in the 10th inning.
The fifth-year manager’s reaction?
“I stood up a little prouder on the stop step and said, ‘OK,’ Boone said.
“It goes with the territory sometimes here,” Boone continued.
Of the booing, he said: “It beats the alternative, being at a place where it’s kind of like, ‘whatever,’ if [you lose]. We understand the expectations that come with putting this uniform on. We have the same expectations. But ultimately, to be really successful, you can’t let that bother you, affect you, move you in any direction. We’re trying to be the best, perfect baseball team we can be. I have a role in that. We all have a role in that.”
Wednesday night, it should be pointed out, was not the first time Boone heard Stadium fans chant for his job.
It happened, for instance, during a 4-1 loss to Atlanta at the Stadium April 21, 2021 that dropped the Yankees to a 6-11 start. And it happened again June 30, 2021 during a ninth-inning meltdown of an 11-8 home loss to the Angels that dropped the Yankees to 41-39.
That those chants occurred multiple times last season was not surprising. The fan base was a generally angry group as the Yankees staggered from the gate and never truly got their footing en route to 92-70 finish and spot in the AL wild-card game (where they lost to the Red Sox at Fenway Park).
This season the Yankees are running away with the AL East with a 73-45 record – they led the Rays and Blue Jays, who started a four-game series against the Yanks Thursday night at the Stadium, by 10 games entering the day – but as no one needs reminding, it has been mostly a struggle the last month.
Even with Wednesday’s stirring comeback, which resulted in the Yankees’ 31st come-from-behind victory of the season, the club came into Thursday just 12-22 in their last 34 games.
Hearing boos at Yankee Stadium is nothing new for those wearing the pinstripes – whether it be a player or a manager. Derek Jeter famously heard boos during the 0-for-32 slump he endured in the 2004 season and plenty of other revered members from those championship clubs, including Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, had their turns hearing it from the home crowd when it found their performances lacking.
Even Aaron Judge has heard Yankee Stadium boos, including the first week of this season when the slugger got off to a slow start.
The boos don’t impact Boone one way or the other, but he did say “from a player standpoint,” the booing can have an effect, depending on the player.
“Some people it’s a motivating factor, it spurs them on,” Boone said. “I think some people it can wear on, especially when they’re going through a tough time. But sometimes it’s all part of being a major league athlete, and you’ve got to be able to handle all of that stuff. That’s part of what makes some of these guys great is you’ve got to be able to deal with tough times, tough moments, and that’s not always an easy thing for people to hear.”
Though Boone didn’t mention him, Joey Gallo, recently dealt to the Dodgers, would be one example of a player not being able to handle the New York cauldron. Giancarlo Stanton, a player Boone did mention, is, in the manager’s words “a great example” of someone figuring out how to deal with rough treatment from fans.
“He bore the wrath, a lot, here, and I think learned how to really, really play here and really control his focus,” Boone said. “And I would say people really think he handles all of this really well. It’s an evolution, a growing process for a lot of different people in a lot of different ways.”