New York Yankees players are used to the lofty expectations of playing in the Bronx. But they were reportedly surprised by “an unusually brutal experience” playing at home during the ALCS against the Houston Astros.
Of course, Yankees fans want championships, and expectations have been high dating back to late owner George Steinbrenner.
But did fans take it too far this October with their jeers? More importantly, will fan treatment discourage free agents from wanting to sign with New York this offseason?
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According to SNY, at least two Yankees players told their agents that playing in the Bronx last weekend was an “unusually brutal experience.” Some reportedly struggled to believe boos were directed at Aaron Judge and the “force of the jeering” toward struggling Josh Donaldson.
And “one longtime exec” didn’t understand “irrational opinions” on general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone.
“I get that it’s World Series or bust, but damn they’re spoiled,” the executive told SNY.
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Judge’s place in this is particularly curious considering he will be the most sought-after free agent on the market this offseason. He didn’t just win the bet on himself, he hit the jackpot by becoming the front-runner for the AL MVP award this season.
Despite breaking the American League home run record for a single season, not to mention being a consistent offensive force through the ups and downs of a 99-win season that resulted in an AL East title, Judge heard boos from fans during the ALDS and ALCS when he struggled at the plate.
Could that eventually affect Judge’s free agency decision? Teams like the San Francisco Giants, who he grew up watching, and the Los Angeles Dodgers are expected to be among the potential landing spots if his Yankees days are over.
There’s also Cashman, whose contract is up with the Yankees. Many consider him one of the best executives in sports, let alone baseball. But, since 2017, when the Yankees took the Astros to Game 7 of the ALCS and lost, the expectation of fans has been that a few tweaks to the roster will lead to at least an appearance in the World Series.
That has not happened. The Yankees fell to the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS in 2018, the Astros in the 2019 ALCS, the Tampa Bay Rays in the shortened 2020 season in the ALDS and the Red Sox last season during an AL wild-card game.
Add to that the Astros’ sweep of the Yankees in this year’s ALCS, and fans are not happy with Cashman.
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Despite reaching the ALCS, the Yankees had a rough postseason. Except for a few players — Harrison Bader was their postseason MVP with five homers while ace Gerrit Cole pitched to a 2.95 ERA in three starts — many didn’t do their part.
Donaldson, for example, was 5 for 29 with one extra-base hit and 16 strikeouts over nine games. Matt Carpenter, who revitalized his career during the regular season, couldn’t shake off the rust after returning from a foot injury. He struck out in nine of his 12 at-bats.
Then, there was Judge, who went 5 for 36 with two homers and three RBIs in nine games, while striking out 15 times. Giancarlo Stanton hit 6 for 32, though he had seven RBIs in nine games.
Owner Hal Steinbrenner has yet to say whether Cashman or Boone will be back for next season. That will be the Yankees’ first box to check before they can begin their offseason plan to reconfigure their roster.