Despite being polarizing among fans, Yankees GM Brian Cashman received some praise from ex-pitcher AJ Burnett for a fiery 2009 pep talk
The longtime general manager and senior vice president is skewered for his insistence to build rosters dependent on home run-or-bust sluggers and injury-prone talents. Many believe he has lost sight of what made the Yankees one of sports’ biggest juggernauts in the late-1990s and early-2000s. Though, a former player is making sure he gives Cashman credit where its due.
Former Yankees pitcher AJ Burnett recalled a fiery, NSFW speech his then-boss gave New York during a 2009 series against the Atlanta Braves. The team, which went all in during the offseason on the likes of CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Burnett, just lost a game 4-0 to drop its record to an unspectacular 38-32. Cashman let his frustrations be known.
Brian Cashman’s impassioned speech in World Series year
“That was Atlanta, because Cashman came in and chewed our a***s out at the break because we weren’t doing what we were supposed to do,”Burnett said on Foul Territory, via NJ.com’s Bridget Hyland. Ultimately, New York figured things out and won its 27th World Series title in franchise history. Burnett believes the executive’s firm wake-up call was instrumental in making that happen.
“It was kind of like, ‘Oh, s**t.’ Like, I’ve never been on a team where we’ve had a general manager come in before that,” the 2015 All-Star said. “Spring training hello’s, but not middle of the season. He was like ‘Y’all need to f*****g clean it up. Look around your locker room, look at what we have here. Look at what we put together. Y’all need to f*****g play better.’
A verbal clubhouse thrashing can sometimes backfire and just further demoralize a squad. Apparently, though, this was the type of tough love the Yankees needed. The pressure to go the distance was immense, and clearly Brian Cashman felt it as well. It is unknown how every individual personally perceived the rant, but AJ Burnett appreciated it, to say the least.
“He was very stern, you could tell he cared,” he said. “I’m pretty sure he flew in that day for it, I don’t think he was in Atlanta at the time. I think he flew in to come chew our a***s out. And it worked.”
Do the Yankees need that fire again?
Although Burnett is unabashedly praising the GM, he also inadvertently shines light on a major problem that serves as a source of much fan discontent. That 2009 championship season is the last one the New York Yankees have experienced.
In the eyes of the fans, the World Series-or-failure mentality Cashman ostensibly expressed in said 2009 speech no longer exists to nearly the same extent it once did. Change is inevitable, but such an adjustment is not going to fly in a sports culture that is so inherently preoccupied with the “big moment.”
To this fan base, a mere postseason series is simply not big enough after a 14-year title drought. And anything less than that is downright catastrophic at this point.