Did an alignment guy touched it after new tires? It might have been aligned without taking off the small clamp on the outer end of the boot.
Yes the most recent alignment came with new tires. Yes it seems likely that the rip came about shortly after the new tires.
So you think the tire shop, might have twisted ball joint side of the tie rod, like half a turn and ripped (or contributed to ripping) the boot? That's certainly possible. But the rubber of the boot seems like it is in pretty sad shape anyway.
Some grease might be there on the toothed end of the rack, as some grease should be put on there on assembly.
I spent some time feeling around. The goop feels/looks like the sticky grease that came from the ball joint on the inner tie rod. Although it must have fallen off the ball joint and onto the boot ages ago.
Otherwise might be your rack end seals going? How's the reservoir level?
I had a known minor PS leak at the reservoir hose that I remedied with a hose clamp a few years ago. Since then I've watched the level super religiously (I can even tell the difference between hot and cold weather) and I don't think there's any leak.
If a car's a keeper, consider buying a lifetime alignment early on. It'll pay you back usually on the 3rd alignment.
Not a big fan of taking the car to the shop and prefer to do stuff myself so we've only had two alignments, once with each tire change.
Another guy mentioned doing both the inner and outer tie rod ends at the same time. By push-pull inspection they seem fine although maybe I just jinxed myself and they're gonna go this fall.