Yankees: The Judge should recuse himself from the Home Run Derby

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees All-Star right fielder has a decision to make as to whether or not he will participate in this year’s version of the Home Run Derby. The pressure will be on him directly from fans and indirectly from Major League Baseball to say, yes. But a wise decision would be to say; no thank you.

The Yankees will have something to say about it, but ultimately it will be Aaron Judge who says yea or nay to the invitation he’s received to enter the Home Run Derby during the All-Star break in Miami.

Yankees fans, including this one, and a growing number of followers of baseball from around the country, have been anticipating seeing Judge pound toss after toss into the far reaches of Marlins Park for weeks now.

The suits at Major League Baseball have been licking their chops over the ka-ching value of ad purchases soaring with Judge participating in the spectacle. And we can be sure that they’ll be working overtime in subtle ways to “push” Judge into the contest, for example, by planting stories in all parts of the country heralding his feats and character.

Meanwhile, Judge will play tonight in his 66th game of the season, held back by Joe Girardi in only three games by Joe Girardi this year. And with the team’s losing streak now reaching seven, despite home runs by Judge and Gary Sanchez to tie the game last night in the sixth inning, there is no way that Judge will be given any rest anytime soon.

High risk, little rewards

And that’s what the discussion should be about. Judge will already be a big part of the hoopla surrounding the event as the starting right fielder for the American League. And with Mike Trout sidelined with an injury, Judge will be a magnet for the media and fans attending the three-day spectacle.

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He’s a fresh face and one who is most welcomed to the game at that. Judge’s ego barely reaches his ankles compared to his massive 6’7″ frame. He’s grounded and has the full support of his adopted family back home in Linden, California.

But despite claims to the contrary by some, he is not Superman. The trouble with the Home Run Derby for participants is that it’s a timed event.

You get as swings as you can squeeze into so many seconds on the clock. Obviously, the more pitches you see, the greater the chances of blasting a home run.

But as Don Baylor, the Angels hitting coach, points out to the LA Times:

"“The way they do it, it’s a lot of swings,” he said. “… and guys are not accustomed to taking that many swings in that amount of time.”"

Hence, the opportunity for injuries which may not even be obvious at the time, but which when they surface later, have their roots in the strenuous exercise required during the event.

Aaron Judge has a long career ahead of him. It’s his first full season, and his team is fighting for its life in a pennant race that is bound to get more stressful and physical as the summer moves on.

ESPN, if they want to, can take video of Judge during batting practice, even covering it “live” if they want to make a big show of it. After all, it’s the same thing as the Derby.

Aaron, take a breather. Watch the event from the stands with your parents. Your time will come.