Year 1 of Aaron Judge's New York Yankees' captaincy has been about as bad as it can get for a franchise of this caliber. The Yankees aren't supposed to be a .500 team. They're supposed to possess a semblance of being a contender.
Judge's toe injury really torpedoed everything, as the team's offense was exposed and has remained unable to get back on track after the reigning AL MVP's return, possibly due to the mental damage that was done in between. This team was catching heat from all corners of the baseball world for being as bad as they were without their best player.
On top of dealing with an injury, Judge has to help navigate this underwhelming roster as they sit 6.5 games back of the final Wild Card spot with a month and a half to go. Another unlucky ailment was bad enough.
Now he has to potentially start getting tough on his teammates for their unacceptable play? And face the media as the heat gets turned up on the threat of the Yankees finishing below .500 for the first time since 1992?
Nobody said being captain of the New York Yankees was easy, but to be faced with this many unpleasant developments in the first five months of office is particularly cruel.
It might be time for Aaron Judge to put extreme Yankees' Captain duties to the test
The vocal aspect of Judge's journey seemingly began in earnest on Tuesday night when he commented on the team's lifeless performance against the Braves that featured one hit, two errors and FOUR double play grounders.
But one might argue, at 60-61, Judge isn't being stern enough with his words. It's an understatement to say the Yankees aren't "showing up." It's an understatement to say the Yankees aren't "capitalizing" when they need to. They ... rarely ever do those things. It's essentially become commonplace since the 2019 ALCS ended (with the exception of the first half of last year). This is sadly very "Yankees": downplaying instances that are gravely serious. And, even worse, repeating the same platitudes that have been said over and over again by all the other lifeless bots in the organization.
No. No. Not "it's right in front of us." Please.
There's obviously no way to know what's being said behind the scenes, but anytime the Yankees of yesteryear underperformed, there was swift accountability taken. There were headline-grabbing quotes to prove it. There was intense body language to suggest they were angry and unsatisfied.
Fans need more out of this current team and regime. They're not getting it. Judge has it in him, though, because he's put pressure on the front office before, so we know he's capable of pressing the guys in the clubhouse to get better results. He already leads by example -- now all he needs is the tact with the media when he has to deliver a mandatory harsh message.