If Aaron Judge had hit 59 home runs through 146 team games for any franchise other than the New York Yankees, what would the discourse be? Would he be heaped with universal praise, or would we still be hearing comparisons to Shohei Ohtani in a last-ditch effort to find something, anything he doesn’t do well? “Sure, Judge has lapped Ohtani in WAR, but … can he guzzle 74 hot dogs in a ten-minute period? Well, then, he’s no Joey Chestnut!”
If Judge had hit 59 home runs as a Cardinal, something tells me fans and analysts across the country would’ve lined up more fervently to contextualize just how historic this achievement is, and to shut down any hot-take artists hell bent on dragging the player through the dirt. When Max Kellerman and Barstool Sports decided that Albert Pujols’ historic chase for 700 was tainted by steroids — because how could it not be? — fans and media members rallied around the flag and embarrassed them for bringing up baseless accusations. The way they should’ve.
Which brings us to Baseball Prospectus’ Craig Goldstein compiling a list of Judge slamming cement-mixer breaking balls out of the yard in recent weeks, which he claims to have “not been a knock on Judge in any way, shape or form.” Come on.
It may not have been a life-altering knock, and you may not have wanted to read the replies telling you it was a knock, but it was most certainly a knock. An attempt to un-polish a jaw-dropping season just a little bit, and one that, more likely than not, was a response to an overload of pinstriped praise coming from the Yankees corner of the electorate.
It’s not that it’s inaccurate to say Judge has hit an awful lot of cookies lately, right as the, “Do not pitch to him!” chants should be cresting. It just doesn’t seem like something anyone would’ve pointed out unless they intended to throw a little dig his way.
Yankees’ Aaron Judge is being given trash middle-middle breaking balls, so he’s drilling trash middle-middle breaking balls. Simple as that.
Ah. Right. Judge should be missing hangers, not depositing them 460 feet into the night sky. Apologize, Aaron. Apologize right now!
It’s not malicious, necessarily, and certainly not as ill-conceived as an ESPN blowhard trying to attach PED allegations to baseball’s retiring feel-good story. It just … it just feels like it wouldn’t have been said about a smaller-market athlete. It is not a particularly interesting point, and it’s frustrating his spectacular season can’t be taken at face value without a Baseball Prospectus analyst trying to slide a splinter into the season’s foot.
As many commenters pointed out — forcing the “I’m sorry you were offended” non-retraction — it seems as if Judge hasn’t missed a single mistake in weeks. And when he encounters a mistake, he doesn’t just poke it into left for a single or split the gap. He takes aim at the light towers over the Green Monster or Bernie Brewer’s slide.
Call this type of statement what it is. Call it nitpicking a masterpiece because you’re tired of reading compliments. Call it the deep, abiding need to always yuck someone else’s yum. And call it, yes, a little bit of backlash to a recent overload of Yankees bias (something this author will never, ever deny that he has in spades).
Rest assured, if this were JD Martinez trying to set a record, I’d be tweeting the very same takes in reverse. But I’d be tweeting them from a Yankees blog. This is essentially a Jared Carrabis tweet wearing a monocle.
If everyone could hit hangers as well as Judge, the whole league would be threatening the 80-homer mark. And if there were some other slugger out there who only hit homers on 98 MPH beauties dotting the outside corner with spin, then pitchers would be retiring en masse from this fruitless line of work.
It seems mistake pitches lead to mistake tweets these days. Sorry if you were bothered by me attaching an itchy collar to the inside of your shirt. Didn’t mean it that way.