With each passing day, it’s becoming apparent that Aaron Judge will break Roger Maris’ single-season home run record. It’s even possible the 6-foot-7 slugger bashes No. 62 before this piece is even published.
Assuming Judge completes the feat, general manager Brian Cashman will be forced to confront the dollar value of “Pinstripe Pride” because of the slugger’s likely MVP-winning season.
Every baseball fan worth his/her salt has heard about the Judge contract situation by this point in the season. Judge bet on himself by turning down a $213.5 million extension, and it paid off in a big way. He leads baseball in slugging percentage, WAR, on-base percentage, RBI, home runs, and a slew of other stats.
Further, if the season were to end today, he would win the Triple Crown and become the eighth player EVER to achieve the feat.
All of this has been part of an MVP-caliber campaign, but Yankees fans should pay particular attention to the home run record, as that’s the accomplishment that places him in the same breath as Maris and Babe Ruth.
Signing Judge should be a no-brainer for a franchise that claims to value “tradition” and “pride.” One may push back and say that “every” team holds this amped up sense of importance, but it can be argued that the Yankees have elevated it to an art form. From the retired numbers to the elongated episodes of “Yankeeography” on the YES Network, the Yankees have sold their fans on the idea that they are “different.”
It’s not outlandish, either. With 27 World titles, they’ve accrued more history than any other team in any other sport.
For decades, fans have been told “history matters,” and that being a Yankee fan is special. This sense of pride should work both ways. In other words, if wearing the pinstripes is unique, the front office should be obligated to reward fans and properly compensate players who have woven themselves into the fabric of the Yankees’ illustrious history.
It’s evident that 2022 has been special for both Yankees fans and Judge. The big man that wears No. 99 has become a staple in history. It will be impossible to explain the pride of being a Yankee without mentioning the single-season home run leader.
Anything could happen come free agency, but Cashman and ownership will have to finally answer the following question: What’s the dollar value of Yankee pride?