Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Aaron "Bleeping" Boone Retires

Aaron Boone officially announced his retirement today ending a 12-year MLB career that saw him play with the Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Florida Marlins, Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros.

Boone is a third generation MLB player who when he began his career with the Reds in 1997 was a teammate of his older brother Bret. Later he would be managed by his father Bob. His grandfather, Ray played in the big leagues in the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s. The younger Boone had his best seasons with the Reds in 2002 and 2003. In '03, Boone was named to the NL All-Star team.

But Boone is best remembered for one at bat he had as a member of the New York Yankees. Acquired by the Yankees at the trade deadline in July 2003, Boone had an otherwise indistinguished stint with the Bronx Bombers. But that all changed when Boone hit a Tim Wakefield knuckleball into the left field upper deck in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. The home run put the Yankees into the World Series and sent the Boston Red Sox home hanging their heads. The Red Sox, of course, had a three run lead with one out in the top of the 8th inning when Grady Little decided to leave Pedro Martinez in the game.

Red Sox Nation, who had never paid much attention to Boone as a National Leaguer, began referring to him as Aaron "Bleeping" Boone. OK, it's not bleeping but you get the idea. Boone's blow was softened when the Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees the following year en route to their first World Series title since 1918. Still, the name stuck despite the fact he was no longer a Yankee by then.

The Yankees released Boone after he tore a knee ligament in an off season basketball game in violation of his contract. It was the injury to Boone that provided the Yankees with the impetus to acquire Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers. So yes, he will always been known as Aaron "Bleeping" Boone in these parts.

Nonetheless, Boone showed considerable courage last season after undergoing open heart surgery to repair an aortic valve, a condition he had since childhood. Boone returned to the big leagues last August with the Houston Astros less than six months after his surgery. Boone was hitless in 13 at bats with the Astros.

Boone has been hired as an analyst for ESPN. Gabe Lacques of USA Today writes:

(i)f Sox fans dare stray from the friendly confines of NESN or MLB Network, they'll be greeted almost daily by Boone's smiling mug. Think ESPN will replay that 2003 homer much? Our early over/under for the year is 426.

Well, while Boone's blast doesn't get much airplay on NESN the same cannot be said for the MLB Network. In fact, I saw his home run on the MLB Network, oh, last night. Boone's home run was ranked number 8 in the Greatest Home Runs of All-Time on the program Prime 9. Occasionally, the MLB Network reairs that game in its entirety. In fact, the outcome of Game 7 of the ALCS was my sole criticism of the MLB Network on its first anniversary.

Otherwise I wish Aaron Boone well in his future endeavors.

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