The Yankees, for the next ten years, may have to just live with the fact they have a right fielder who can only manage 43 home runs, score 112 runs, drive in 96, draw 110 walks, get on base 40 percent of the time, and play all but a handful of his teams’ game this season. What a disappointment he has been.
Yankees right fielder, Aaron Judge, only has himself to blame for the torment and frustration he has endured over the greater part of this season’s second half. And if he had known better, he might have developed a mild calf strain a day or two before the All-Star game, returned to California to spend some prime time with his parents and brother, geared up and mentally ready for the season to resume.
He chose or was coerced by MLB; I’m not sure which, to be the face of baseball, for baseball, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Aaron Judge was convicted for crimes he didn’t commit. Oh, he has a ton of strikeouts, and most of them have come in the second half. And there were times when I was begging Joe Girardi to give the young man a few days off so he could recharge his batteries. But Girardi continued to write his name in the lineup, day after day, with 0-4 collars and three strikeout games piling up.
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Aaron Judge followed Girardi’s lead, showing up every day ready to play, refusing to acknowledge his shoulder might be bothersome (at least), picked himself up, dusted himself off, and hit the reset button on a season that was going away from him.
Robots, they are not
And it’s easy to forget these players who exist for our entertainment are not robots. They go out there night after night, 162 times a season, and more often not, they fail. The best players are fortunate to only fail seventy percent of the time, and these are the ones who make the Hall of Fame with lifetime batting averages of .300 or more.
And we might even forget that Mariano Rivera, who collected a record 627 saves in his illustrious career with the Yankees, walked in from the bullpen with the game on the line 74 times and blew the save. But like Judge, redemption was in his blood too because he came right back the next night, throwing the same filthy cutter he had the night before, sending Yankees fans home with Frank Sinatra serenading them as they exited the Stadium.
Aaron Judge had a game last night the odds say he will not duplicate against the Orioles tonight. Two home runs, traveling a total of 866 ft., with six runs batted in is not anyone’s typical game in this league. But it does tell us there is a road to redemption in this league.
But that road is not paved with gold for all. You have to want it, and you have to make it yours. I watched Matt Harvey pitch two nights ago for a while. His body language and facial expressions speak only of a man (first) and pitcher (second) seeking redemption for a career that’s gone haywire.
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It’s painful to watch, and we can only imagine what it must be like for Harvey, once “Broadway Matt” and the darling of New York Met fans. Harvey struck out three times and didn’t get a hit in the vernacular of Aaron Judge in that game. But the Mets will pencil him in for another start this weekend, when once again, Harvey will try to upright himself, and pitching like he was in the “old days.”
Let us be thankful for what we have
Baseball is filled with these stories of failure and redemption. And if Aaron Judge has given us anything this season, it hasn’t been the courage he showed by not developing that calf injury and “missing” the All-star Game, and the Home Run Derby ride he experienced.
Instead, it’s the courage and determination he’s demonstrated in the aftermath when things haven’t gone so well. We’ve got a man and a ballplayer with loads of character here, who has already put up numbers (I would guess) less than five percent of the 600 major league players can better this year.
And Judge is not done yet. He has a chance to better the mark set by Mark McGuire with his 49 home runs as a rookie. But you know what? This guy has done enough for me to know the next ten years of having Judge on the field for the New York Yankees is going to be a treat.
And maybe, though, we need to recognize the sky IS the limit for Judge. And the 45 or so home runs, together with the 105 RBI, 100 or more runs scored, and a hundred plus walks he is likely to deliver year in and year out for the Yankees, is not only something to behold but also something to be treasured as a fan of the Yankees.
All I know for sure, though, is there isn’t a hitter in the Yankees lineup who, when a pitcher looks into the on-deck circle, he doesn’t want to see there more than Aaron Judge, even during the slide he is emerging from. And that alone makes him the MVP of the Yankees this season.