Paul Kuharsky: My Two Favorite Teams Are Having Loyalty Issues

Two of my teams have loyalty issues.

One is too loyal. One may not be loyal enough.

The Yankees moved forward this year with an allegedly defensive shortstop, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who they acquired in a trade with Minnesota. I was not as against it as many fans of the team, because it was a year away from one of two top prospects being ready, seemed to have sufficient offense and needed to be better defensively.

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Yankees infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa. (Getty Images)

The trouble now is, the Yankees over-value him defensively – quoting metrics that ignore the fact that while he can make some nice plays moving to his left or right he’s got some real problems on balls hit right to him. I need a shortstop who can handle balls hit right to him on a very regular basis when the decision to play him was based on his defense.

I’m funny that way.

So on Sept. 1, New York finally called up one of those two hot prospects — Oswald Peraza — and immediately played Kiner-Falefa at short in three out of four games.

“He’s such a big part of what we’re doing and I expect him to be in the middle of everything,” Boone said shortly after Peraza came up, per the New York Post. “The best thing about Isiah is he wants to win and is willing to do anything it takes and be prepared. He’ll continue to play a lot.”

I’m sure he’s willing to field ground balls right at him, but in some big moments he has not seemed able.

Now they’ve been gifted an opportunity to move Kiner-Falefa to third, where he won a Gold Glove for the Rangers in 2020. Josh Donaldson has not lived up to offensive expectations. He went on paternity leave Wednesday and D.J. LeMahieu has been out since Monday with a toe injury.

Kiner-Falefa hit a grand slam in the nightcap of a double header on Wednesday, a 7-1 win over the Twins. He grounded out with the bases loaded in the ninth to finish a loss Thursday night.

Boone can’t return to being overly loyal to IKF, and the shortstop’s “desire to win” isn’t reason enough for it. This is not a slumping Aaron Judge we are talking about. Peraza needs every chance between now and the playoffs to show he should be the shortstop in the postseason and LeMahieu or Donaldson could be the better option at third.

If the Yankees don’t get things right in those playoffs, I’ll likely be writing again about being overly loyal to people, people named Boone and Brian Cashman.

Loyalty Issues Also Plague Chelsea

I’ve not rooted for Chelsea of the EPL nearly as long as I’ve pulled for the Yankees (I grew up in Central New Jersey, not London). But after taking in a Chelsea-Manchester United game at Stanford Bridge in London in 2018 with my family, we’ve been all in.

Blues manager Thomas Tuchel took over a flailing team late January of 2020 and delivered big time, moving it from ninth to fourth (the top four are Champions League spots for the following year) and leading them to an improbable Champions League title.

Russian oligarch owner Roman Abramovich was successfully forced out by the British Government and Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital bought the team. They pledge to be different that Abramovich, who had 14 managers in 19 years.

And on their 100th day as owners, they fired Tuchel, whose team did not look good during a 3-1-2 (W-D-L) start and a 1-0 Champions League opener loss to Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia.

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They let him make some pricey acquisitions in the transfer window, which isn’t smart if you’re about to sack him, as they say over there. Things can change really quickly in the world’s top soccer leagues. He had some upset players and his very public complaints about poor effort didn’t seem to be working.

But not far removed from the biggest trophy his club could get and two other pretty good ones, the move seemed rash.

IKF is getting too much loyalty in New York. In London, I can’t help but feel Tuchel didn’t get enough.

Paul Kuharsky hosts Outkick 360. Read more from him at Paul Kuharsky.

Written by Paul Kuharsky

Paul Kuharsky is an award-winning writer who has covered the NFL for over 22 years in California, Texas, and Tennessee, and also is a selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After ESPN, PK came to join the longest running trio in Nashville Sports Talk in 2012.

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