Considering Facebook and Instagram were both down bad at the moment, we thought this screenshotted, Yankees-related IG comment on Twitter might be the last evidence we ever saw of the platform.
That makes it noteworthy for a different reason than the one we’re were focusing on here.
Aaron Judge, who’s never gotten a clutch hit in his life, per MLB insider Jared Carrabis, walked the Yankees off into the postseason on Sunday evening, which was his eighth go-ahead hit in the eighth inning or later this season. That’s tied for the most in MLB — or, as Boston would describe it, “never”.
While fans might’ve been laced with electric tension and nerves, left over from the eight scoreless innings that preceded this smack up the middle, it’s impossible not to be confident in the 2021 version of Judge, who’s done plenty of menacing things to American League pitchers.
He is the embodiment of this era of Yankees baseball, which hasn’t resulted in a World Series, but certainly might’ve in 2017 if not for the Astros. Still, it’s fair to be disappointed, sure, but it’s impossible to absolutely throw dirt on five consecutive playoff appearances, capped with by far the toughest road to the dance yet in 2021 (this team was 41-40!).
There’s not a “culture problem” — there are roster issues and managerial debacles. Aaron Judge is not causing fractures. In fact, he’s basically the team captain.
That’s also how the team views him, by the way. Peep Andrew Velazquez’s comment on Judge’s Sunday walk-off.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge WILL be the captain.
You don’t trade Aaron Judge. You certainly don’t let Aaron Judge walk for nothing. You extend Aaron Judge at an agreed-upon superstar price, you continue to build around him, and you let him lead as the unofficial team captain until he wins a ring, then you make it official.
That’s how this works. That’s how all of this works.
What did you need to see from Judge in 2021? A full season without serious injury? He played 148 games (would’ve been more without a COVID IL stint) and hit 39 homers. He suffered a freak injury in 2018 when he was hit in the wrist, and shattered himself on an end-of-season dive in 2019. His legs stiffened up in Aug. 2020 after an entire spring where players were banned from workout facilities. All his previous injuries came with explanations, but … still, we needed to see it. And we did.
What about a response to adversity? While Aaron Boone was headed to the microphone every day, telling the gathered media that this roster would “eventually” turn a corner “someday,” Judge made sure the corner was turned. He single-handedly swung games at Citi Field, at Fenway, and in Toronto in the final weeks of the season. He nearly won the Field of Dreams Game all by himself! He tattooed Houston in Houston. More often than not, he was the one either delivering the decisive blow, or handing the baton off to Giancarlo Stanton as the pitcher shook.
Judge is the de facto captain. Now, all he needs is some support from the front office and an October full of breaks to get the official C on his chest.