Aaron Boone said maybe, just maybe, there will be time down the road for reflection.
Just not Wednesday night.
“We have a lot going on and kind of consumed with everything pouring into this game,” Boone said before managing the Yankees in the win-or-go-home American League wild-card game against the A’s at the Stadium. The Yankees won, 7-2, so they'll head for Fenway Park to play the Red Sox in Game 1 of the Division Series on Friday night.
The question was if Boone had taken any time to reflect upon where he was exactly 365 days before: in the Stadium press box as an ESPN commentator broadcasting the Twins-Yankees wild-card game, won by the Yankees, 8-4.
“Not really,” Boone said. “Hopefully, we have a run in us this month and maybe next month I can sit back and reflect on that.”
Still, it had been quite a journey, one that started with the Yankees, to the surprise of many, letting go Joe Girardi after 10 mostly successful seasons. Among them was last year, when the Yankees made it to Game 7 of the ALCS and lost to the eventual world champion Astros.
Boone, with no coaching or managerial experience, emerged from a pool of six candidates interviewed by the Yankees and was named manager last Dec. 4.
He guided the Yankees to a 100-62 finish, by any objective measure a successful season but one overshadowed by the Red Sox freight train that finished 108-54.
Boone, however, knows which franchise he works for. He smiled when asked if, with a loss in the wild-card game or without a prolonged playoff run, the season still could be described as a success.
“Man, that’s a good question,” he said. “We’ve had a really successful season to this point, but we’re with the Yankees to chase down that ultimate prize, and we feel like we have a club that’s capable of doing that. We get to find out if we’re good enough starting tonight. So I’ll let everybody else kind of decide those things. We’re pouring into tonight with the expectation we can get out of here with a win.”
Does he feel pressure?
“Pressure goes with it,” Boone said. “You feel that every day to some degree. I think I handled it all right, but it comes with the territory.”
Whatever pressure Boone might have felt, that message wasn’t relayed to his team in what he called a “short and sweet” address he made after Tuesday’s workout at the Stadium.
The message was simple.
“We’re ready,” Boone said.
Boone, 45, played in his share of elimination games -- Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Red Sox the most notable, of course – and he said the feelings going into those games were “similar” to what he had Wednesday night.
“We’re playing for a lot,” Boone said. “And you pour a lot into this, whether you’re a player, whether you’re in my position, whether you’re behind the scenes, whether you’re a front-office member. A lot of people pour a lot into us being in this position to have a chance and to be playing the postseason. So with that comes a lot of emotion, a lot of excitement, anxiousness, butterflies, the whole bit. And I would say that’s fairly similar now as when I was a player.”
Boone is the son of a big-league manager, but the role has changed. Most significantly, there is far more input from the front office in most organizations, including the Yankees. He shrugged at the differences managing now compared to when his father, Bob Boone, led the Royals (1995-97) and the Reds (2001-03).
“It’s all I know,” Boone said. “So I’ve loved it. I’ve loved every step of the way. I mean, I love the game. I love the major-league season, the challenge of it, the peaks and valleys of it, the tough times, the really good times. I appreciate it all. And so I’m just entrenched in it on a daily basis. And from this chair, this is in 2018, it’s all I’ve known and I loved it.”