By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com
The driving distance between Philadelphia’s Citizens’ Bank Park and Yankee Stadium is approximately 108 miles.
The distance given to Phillies’ manager and ex-Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi and current Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone may not be that long this season.
How about a Phillies-Yankees World Series?
For the Phillies, it looms as a long shot. For the Yankees, it looms as a heavy favorite.
One factor is certain – both of them certainly will be heavily scrutinized this coming season from their respective teams.
Yes, both can be seated in the game’s proverbial hot seat.
Ironically, it was Girardi who was dismissed because he couldn’t get the Yankees their 28th championship, and his style wasn’t conducive to the current analytics push. There also was his old-school, fiery style that didn’t gibe with the new-school players and new-school management.
Enter Boone, who was the low-key opposite and analytic-based pick of GM Brian Cashman and the upstairs brass who could dictate his path. He was the outsider, a player turned broadcaster without any managerial experience brought in to change the culture.
Yet, this is the final year of Boone’s four-year contract, and all early signs point to a World Series or bust year for the Bronx Bombers. There hasn’t been any talk nor sniff of an extension for Boone.
The American League East is much weaker with Tampa’s loss of Blake Snell and Charlie Morton from its World Series staff of a year ago, and Hal Steinbrenner may still have some fumes about the Rays getting there.
Overall, the AL doesn’t appear to be as strong as its counterpart this season, especially seeing what the Dodgers, Padres, Nationals, and even what the Mets have done.
Even with Gerrit Cole and some current question marks behind him, the only factor that could save Boone is injuries to the lineup. And based on the recent performances of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, there is still the likelihood of that happening.
Steinbrenner and Cashman did sign DJ LeMahieu to expect to contend despite the outward appearance of mixing more of the usual amount of the young talents into the channels, a move that normally is un-Yankee like.
On the surface, Boone appears safe, but he can ask Girardi.
Girardi had a mark of 910-710 with a .562 winning percentage in 10 seasons and a 28-24 postseason slate. Boone has a 236-148 –100 wins in each of his first two seasons — with a .625 percentage and an 11-10 record in the postseason.
Girardi had a 28-32 record in his COVID-shortened debut last year, but he drew the fans’ ire for his quick hook to and from the bullpen as well as some of his strategies.
The Phillies’ third-place finish last year might fall into palace with this season, but Philadelphia fans are waiting for the Girardi magic show to take effect and get them in contention this season. They aren’t known for being patient, either.
Ironically, both teams made their last World Series appearance facing each other in 2009 when A-Rod helped the Yanks to their last title.
That year, Girardi capped his all-time season with 103 wins, while Boone underwent open-heart surgery the same year in March and finally made his season debut with Houston in September. He would launch his broadcast career that fall when he called the Yankees-Los Angeles Angels ALCS series for MLB network.
Somehow, they seemed mystically linked.
They are this year, too.
They both have to jet their teams to the top.