Boone On WFAN: Opening Day Delay 'Hit Home' But Bigger Than Baseball

Yankees Manager Discusses Team, Schedule And Playoff Format

Joe & Evan
March 26, 2020 - 3:48 pm

Yankees manager Aaron Boone was anticipating Thursday's arrival. He would've sat in the dugout at Camden Yards in Baltimore for the Yankees to begin its journey to the postseason. Instead, Boone is at his Connecticut home as Yankees' Opening Day and season openers across the league were pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred issued the decision to postpone the start of the season on March 12. Boone told WFAN's Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts that the delay "hit home a little bit more today."

"Just thinking from my standpoint how big of a day this has always been to me and my life from the time I was a little kid," Boone said. "The fact that it's here now and we're not playing is painful, it hurts, it stinks but we also know this is a lot bigger than us and bigger than baseball and we just want to do our part to get us back out there as soon as we can."

As MLB canceled spring training, members of the Yankees dispersed — some Yankees went back home, some remained in Tampa. Boone traveled back to be with his family in Connecticut, where he's stayed for roughly the past 10 days "trying to stay busy" whether it be shooting around the basketball, watching Netflix or re-watching old baseball games on Youtube. 

Boone remains heavily in-touch with the Yankees players and coaches despite the separation

"I talk to usually Brian (Cashman) or (assistant GM) Jene Afterman in the front office probably just about every day," Boone said. "I have a coaches text string that I have with all of my coaches that we communicate with each other all the time, having conversations with them.

"I'm communicating with all of my players," Boone added. "I probably touched base with all of our guys on the 40-man (roster) in the last 48 hours, keeping up on them just seeing what they're able to do, what kind of workouts they continue to do, see what our pitchers are doing. Yesterday, I went over to (Gerrit) Cole's house and played catch with him in his front yard so we're very much as best we can trying to keep tabs on guys ..."

It's becoming less likely the Yankees will play a full 162-game schedule in 2020. Manfred previously said a best-case scenario would be a return to play in late May while MLB follows the CDC's guideline on restricting events of more than 50 people. Scott Boras, Cole's agent, proposed the World Series take place in December — including a 144-game schedule. 

Boone, however, remains optimistic to play "as many as possible." 

"It's whatever we can do," Boone said. "At some point, we're going to have a duty and obligation to be part of helping bring our nation and even world back to normalcy. Sports is such a big part of that. Obviously, it's probably not going to be 162 (games) but I'd hate to put a number on it. Bottom line is when that time comes and whatever it ends up being, we have an obligation to go out there and deliver. That'll be the expectation. I'm hoping it's as many as possible. I'm very optimistic that it has a chance to be a lot of games but in the end, whatever it is, we'll go out and do our part in hopefully helping a nation heal."

In February, MLB discussed a potential change to its playoff format, where they'll expand the postseason field. Many speculate if baseball would increase the amount of playoff teams to either 14 or 16.

"If it is a situation where it comes down to being more teams, hopefully we're still making sure we award the integrity of the long season, which I hope it is a long season, and we award the team that really excels," Boone said. "It makes it a little more of a challenge if you're going to widen the field of playoff teams. Hopefully as best you can, it should be more difficult for the lower seed to make it through."

Click the audio player above to listen to Boone's interview in its entirety, where he discusses his favorite opening day memory, injury updates etc.