In a three-day span in late June/early July, when the Yankees were really scuffling, Aaron Boone received votes of confidence from general manager Brian Cashman and owner Hal Steinbrenner.
"This is not an Aaron Boone problem," Cashman said.
"The majority of the responsibility lies with the players," Steinbrenner said. "They’re the ones on the field."
The Yankees never considered making a change in the manager’s office. But with the underperformance of the club to that point, it was a fair question to ask, especially with Boone in the last year of his contract.
Less than two months later, with the Yankees having won 21 of their last 26 to move into the wild-card lead, no one is talking about Boone’s job security. How about AL manager of the year and a new contract?
There’s a good chance Boone isn’t thinking about either of those as the Yankees take aim at the AL East-leading Rays.
"Look, one of the things that I try to pride myself on is being consistent," Boone said Saturday before the Yankees beat the Twins, 7-1. "And one of the things I try to challenge [in] our room, our culture, is that regardless of where you are in the season, if we were to drop you into our clubhouse, you wouldn’t know if we had lost eight in a row or won eight in a row or [were] playing great or struggling a little bit. So I try to model that consistency.
"It’s not always easy. We’re all human, and you tend to enjoy success, and the struggles are tougher, obviously. But as far as who I am, who we are, I think we do a pretty good job of remaining consistent from who we are as people."
The Yankees' nine-game winning streak and NL East-leading Atlanta's nine- game winning streak will be put to the test in a two-game series that begins Monday night at Truist Park. Sunday’s series finale against Minnesota was preemptively postponed in advance of Tropical Storm Henri.
Boone’s task of fitting all of his powerful players in the lineup will be more difficult in the DH-less games in Atlanta. Boone has been playing Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield with Aaron Judge in center as a way to get Luke Voit’s red-hot bat into the lineup as the DH.
Finally getting Stanton healthy enough to be an option in the outfield is an example of Boone’s patience. He made it clear from spring training that it was a goal in 2021 and was always positive that it would happen at some point this summer.
Stanton, who has looked comfortable in the outfield, said Boone’s No. 1 attribute has been to "just keep the confidence" when things are going sideways.
"Understand we’re going to go through rough patches," Stanton said. "We went through a longer one than we anticipated. He’s always been that steady, even-keeled presence that we’ve needed, and he’s done a great job."
Not all Yankees fans feel that way, of course, but Boone does have a .606 regular-season winning percentage (308-200) in his three-plus seasons at the helm. If the Yankees make the playoffs, Boone will get a chance to manage in the heat of October again, which of course is what it’s all about in the Bronx.
Yankees players appreciate Boone’s steady hand as much as Steinbrenner and Cashman did back when things were not looking rosy.
"I think his mentality day to day is certainly to be commended," Gerrit Cole said. "He’s been remarkably consistent. Sometimes when it’s been a bit challenging for all of us, he’s been a leader in that aspect. I think that he’s been able to keep us at that level where we keep wanting to get better regardless of the results that we’re having. I think he’s done a good job."