Last Updated on October 18, 2023 at 8:38 am by John Allen
Baseball fans continue to ponder if the Yankees could have a better season with a possible postseason berth had they signed Bryce Harper in 2019. However, that won’t be enough for them to rue. Along with leaving aside the power hitter for the Phillies to sign, the Yankees also let Philadelphia have another reason to celebrate this postseason. This was having a manager in Rob Thomson, who New York overlooked to sign Aaron Boone.
Rob Thomson was with the Yankees from 1990 to 2017 and was among the top contenders to replace Joe Girardi. However, Brian Cashman brought in Aaron Boone and let him go. Soon Rob Thomson took over the role of the Phillies bench coach in 2018 and became their manager on October 20, 2022. Under his guidance, the team flourished while the Yankees suffered a contrasting fate under Boone.
The Yankees passed on Rob Thomson
The Yankees hired Rob Thomson in 1990 to become a third base coach for their Class-A affiliate located in Fort Lauderdale. He transitioned to the front office in 1998 and became the Director of Player Development in 2000. The team promoted him to MLB coaching duty in November 2003 and was entrusted with overseeing the Yankees’ spring training camp. Yankees’ manager Joe Torre affectionately nicknamed him “Topper” due to his exceptional management of the spring training camp.
On September 27, 2006, Rob Thomson temporarily assumed the position of first base coach for the Yankees, filling in for Tony Pena, who had received the unfortunate news of his father’s passing just before a game. Thomson managed in this capacity for four games until Pena returned in time for the season finale on October 1. Before the start of the 2008 season, incoming manager Joe Girardi appointed Rob Thomson as his bench coach.
On April 4, 2008, when Girardi fell ill due to a respiratory infection, he designated Thomson to manage that evening’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. This marked Rob Thomson’s inaugural experience as a major league manager, making him the first Canadian to manage a Major League game since George Gibson for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1934. Unfortunately, the Yankees lost that game with a score of 13-4. Rob Thomson also managed the game on April 5 due to Girardi’s continued illness, resulting in another loss for the Yankees, this time with a score of 6-3.
Rob Thomson served as the team’s third base coach for six seasons and was part of the coaching staff during the Yankees’ triumphant 2009 World Series championship. Preceding the 2015 season, Thomson was appointed as the bench coach, a role he held until 2017.
When the Yankees dismissed Joe Girardi as their manager in 2017 following their ALCS loss to the Astros, Brian Cashman conducted interviews with six potential managers as Joe Girardi’s successor. The initial candidate was Rob Thomson, an internal candidate who had dedicated 28 years of his career to the Yankees’ organization, with the most recent decade spent in coaching roles.
Subsequently, when the Yankees opted to bring in Aaron Boone, who had no prior managerial experience in either the majors or minors, Rob Thomson transitioned to the Phillies.
Cashman’s mistake, Yankees’ agony
It’s intriguing to contemplate the alternate outcomes had the Yankees selected Rob Thomson instead of Boone as their manager. Boone successfully guided teams with substantial payrolls and numerous injury challenges to five consecutive playoff appearances leading up to this year. However, it’s noteworthy that the Yankees’ last appearance in the World Series dates back to 2009.
In the meantime, the Phillies underwent a significant transformation under Rob Thomson. They transitioned from being seven games under .500 the previous year under Girardi to concluding the season with an impressive 87-75 record. This marked a turning point for the franchise as they secured the final NL Wild Card spot, putting an end to a nine-season playoff drought. The Phillies then embarked on an extraordinary postseason journey, consistently pulling off surprising victories until they eventually faced the Astros in the World Series, which they lost in six games.
This year, despite finishing a considerable distance behind the Braves in the NL East, the Phillies managed to secure the top Wild Card spot. They continued their success by sweeping the Marlins in a best-of-three Wild Card series and subsequently defeating the Atlanta Braves in four games during the best-of-five NLDS, thus advancing to the NLCS.
Presently, the Phillies find themselves just three victories away from securing a second consecutive pennant. The Yankees’ decision not to hire Rob Thomson proved to be a boon for the Phillies.
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