Think back to the 2017 Yankees. What’s the first thing that comes to mind?
There was the Yankees' seven-game loss to the Astros in the ALCS.
There was Didi Gregorius’ three-run homer in the first inning in the wild-card win over the Twins, who had scored three runs in the top of the frame.
There was Aaron Judge's 52-homer season.
But there also was a simple hand motion that captivated the attention of the baseball world.
Maybe the 2019 Yankees have found one of their own.
During a Yankees-Rays game at Citi Field — a neutral-site game because of Hurricane Irma in the Tampa region — in September 2017, Mets fan Gary Dunaier was caught on camera responding to a home run by the Yankees' Todd Frazier by giving a thumbs down. The result: A viral sensation that set the social media world ablaze.
The Yankees ran with it. They began doing a thumbs-down motion to the dugout after a key hit or run scored. Players were seen wearing thumbs-down shirts.
On Saturday, after a called third strike against Cameron Maybin and Aaron Boone's subsequent ejection for arguing the call, Brett Gardner responded by repeatedly jackhammering his bat into the top of the dugout — similar to what he did Aug. 9 in Toronto.
Gardner promptly was ejected from Saturday's game by first-base umpire Phil Cuzzi, and Judge showed his support for him on Sunday by mimicking the motion after his third-inning single. He did it again after his RBI double in the ninth inning.
Judge noted that when the fans in rightfield did their traditional roll call for each player in the top of the first inning, Gardner faced them and made a motion as if he were banging his bat against the top of a dugout. The fans went wild.
“He gave them a little dugout hit with a muscle up, so that was a good one,” Judge said after the Yankees' 8-4 loss to the Indians at Yankee Stadium. “That might be the new thumbs down. We’ll see.”
Boone said that when a team has strong chemistry, players often will develop jokes and ways to keep things light over a long season.
“Those guys are really close,” Boone said. “There’s little things that happen throughout a course of a year all the time that are kind of inside things between guys. So that today was probably a little more of that.”
Judge wanted to make sure the world knew he and the rest of the Yankees support Gardner while having some fun with the situation.
“We do a lot of crazy things in that dugout when we get on base, so it’s showing support for him,” Judge said. “He’s one of the leaders of this team, so we’re just supporting him with that.”
So what does that mean for the future of the bat-banging on-base celebration?
Judge said with a smile: “You’ll see a lot more of that.”