Opening Day of MLB’s 2020 shortened regular season fell less than a week after the one-year anniversary of New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone’s now-infamous “Savages in the Box” remarks.
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The Definition of Savage:
(adj) fierce, ferocious, or cruel,
(noun) a fierce, brutal, or cruel person,
(synonyms) brutal, fierce, ferocious, vicious, unrelenting, pitiless, relentless, merciless, ruthless“Savage.” Dictionary.Com, www.dictionary.com/browse/savage. Accessed 24 Aug. 2020.
Origins of “Savages in the Box”
On July 18th, 2019, the Yankees were facing the Tampa Bay Rays at home. With rookie umpire Brennan Miller behind the plate, Boone was becoming increasingly verbal and upset over what he felt were generous called strikes and balls in the Rays’ favor.
In the bottom of the second inning, Boone’s frustration reached a verbal head. Between the continued problems behind the plate and veteran outfielder Brett Gardner’s ejection, Boone got himself ejected. But Boone decided to go down swinging on behalf of his players in an up-close and personal confrontation with Miller. YES Network’s field mics picked up the entire impressive tirade:
“My guys are fucking savages in that fucking box and you’re having a piece of shit start to this game. I feel bad for you, but fucking get better. That guy is a good pitcher, but our guys are fucking savages in that box, our guys are fucking savages in that fucking box, tighten it up right now!”“Aaron Boone Gets Ejected and Gives a Great Rant, a Breakdown.” YouTube, uploaded by Jomboy Media, 18 July 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbSfJLF_0-8.
The media and fans jumped all over his words. Although, Boone did say that he had privately been referring to his players as “savages” all year. In fact, the phrase simply spilled out during his heated exchange with Miller on accident. Boone simply meant that Yankees’ batters were merciless on pitchers.
They were able to take pitches and work the count in their favor. That ability meant the Yankees were patient with a good understanding of the strike zone. Consequently, their ability to not swing at bad pitches meant they were able to wait for a quality pitch. As a result, waiting for a quality pitch gave the Yanks a better pitch to hit and hit it hard.
Indeed, during the 2019 season, the Yankees indeed proved to be savages in the batter’s box, under Boone’s watchful eye. Despite being plagued by injury after injury, the Yankees won 103 regular-season games (third highest number of wins in the Major Leagues). They finished first in the American League East and won their 19th division title.
The 2019 season ended with the Yanks having some incredible numbers including 943 runs, 904 RBIs (2nd only to the Minnesota Twins’ 906), and an OPS+ of 118 (tied for second overall). Additionally, they ranked in the top five overall in batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, and OPS. T
Finally, the Bronx Bombers lived up to their nickname; they hit a total of 306 bombs, only one homer shy of the 2019 Major League record. In fact, an amazing total of fourteen Yankees hit at least 10 home runs in 2019, with Gleyber Torres topping the roster at 38.
Fast forward to Opening Weekend of the 2020 season. On July 26th, Boone was quoted in his post-game interview saying:
Indeed, the Yankees are already proving that they will continue to call themselves “savages in the box.” Since Opening Day on July 23rd, the Yankees lead the American League East with an 8-1 record, giving them the highest winning percentage in the Major Leagues at .889.
They have swept both the Orioles and Red Sox in their last two series, meaning they have won 6 in a row. In a shortened season when every game is worth 2.7 games in a regular 162 game season, that is equivalent to an astonishing 16-game winning streak!
Best Team in Baseball?
In fact, despite having played fewer games than other teams due to COVID-19 related postponements, the Yanks are leading the majors in home runs. They lead the American League in slugging, OPS and OPS+. And they rank 3rd in the AL in runs and OBP. What is more, Aaron Judge, the Yankees superstar right-fielder, is single-handedly helping boost the team’s numbers. He’s making a very early argument for MVP by leading the majors in homers (6), RBIs (14), and runs (11).
Additionally, seven other Yankees players have already played the long ball game at least once this season. Both first baseman Luke Voit and third baseman Gio Urshela hit their first career grand slams since Opening Day. Voit’s came on July 30th, against the Baltimore Orioles, and Urshela’s own 4-run bomb was only 4 days ago on Saturday, against the Yankees’ long time rival, the Boston Red Sox.
Chase For 28
Aaron Boone now has the big (healthy!) bats of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton back in his lineup and the supporting offensive power of DJ LeMahieu, Luke Voit, Gleyber Torres, and Gio Urshela, among others, to back them up. Obviously, to anyone watching from the outside in, the sky is the limit for this manager and his savages.
They have already started off the 2020 regular season with a big bang and an even bigger message: “We are here to play. We are here to win. And; we are still fucking savages in the fucking box.”
Watch out, baseball. The New York Yankees are coming for you.