The Yankees staggered into the Subway Series on Friday night coming off their worst loss of the season and a day after team owner Hal Steinbrenner called out the team for its season-long underperformance.
“It had a big impact,’’ Aaron Judge said of Steinbrenner’s comments on Thursday, when the Yankees’ managing general partner said he was “aggravated, frustrated, angry” about how the team had played over the first half of the season — and placed the blame squarely on the players instead of on general manager Brian Cashman or manager Aaron Boone.
The team has played poorly enough that Judge called a players-only meeting during the week.
The right fielder said he was moved to call the meeting, which the Yankees would normally hold closer to the All-Star break, because there were “some things on my mind, some things I was seeing over the course of the year. Usually around the All-Star break we have a meeting where guys address stuff after the first half is over with. I felt like there were some things that couldn’t wait to get brought up.”
Judge declined to discuss the specifics of the meeting, but he noted the “quality of at-bats” was better in Wednesday’s loss.
“There was a lot of emotion,’’ Judge said.
He also agreed with Steinbrenner’s assessment.
“No matter what anybody says, it’s not a coach or the front office,’’ Judge said of who’s to blame. “It’s on the players. We’re the ones on the field out there competing. The front office has their hands in it to put the players on the field, but ultimately, it comes down to the work and the results on the field.”
Steinbrenner pointed directly at the offense as the primary disappointment this season.
The Yankees have lacked situational hitting, although some results have been better since MLB’s crackdown on pitchers using foreign substances.
But they still haven’t won consistently, and Boone knows that’s the only thing that will matter at the end of the season, despite Steinbrenner taking some of the immediate pressure off him on Thursday.
“I’m appreciative of who I get to work with,’’ Boone said of the vote of confidence. “One of the things I’ve talked about here for a long time is this is a place I enjoy coming to work to. We’re obviously going through some tough times as a club. So while I appreciate that [support], it’s like, we’re trying to get better. Certainly, I’m one of the main figures that needs to be accountable to things.”
That time still might come if the Yankees fail to make the postseason, since Steinbrenner made no assurances Boone would keep his job beyond this year.
“Ultimately, one of my most important jobs is to make sure that I’m part of getting the most out of each and every player and that I’m creating an environment and a culture where guys can thrive,’’ Boone said. “For my part in that, I need to better at that and continue to evaluate and grill down on things where we can make improvements and ultimately get the most out of people. That’s one area we need to be better.”
Baserunning is another area in which the Yankees have been subpar, as Steinbrenner noted, and the Yankees are running short on time to fix their weaknesses.
Boone understands the urgency.
“There’s a lot of buzz around us right now, not all for good reason, obviously.” Boone said. “This is New York City. This is the greatest place to play baseball. You’ve got a team, in the Mets, that’s atop their division and they’re playing here at Yankee Stadium. So it’s a big deal to me and I would imagine it is to a lot of people as well.”