MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

I was glad to see the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge finally hit his home run, I guess. I was just glad he didn’t hit it last week against the Baltimore Orioles.

Don’t get me wrong, entering the three-game series last weekend at Yankee Stadium, I didn’t care if he hit No. 62 or not; I just wanted the Orioles, seeing how they were still barely alive for a postseason berth, to win at least two out of three games (which they did) to A.) stay in contention and B.) guarantee themselves a winning season, which in itself would be quite remarkable given where this team and this organization have been.

Well, they did win two out of three to guarantee their winning season, but were eliminated from the wild-card race just prior to the third game. So while the postseason would have been nice (it would have been extraordinary), the main thing was the winning season, which they accomplished, which in itself should make Brandon Hyde the American League Manager of the Year.

Along the way, though, the Orioles took a good bit of heat from the Yankees broadcasters and the frustrated Yankees fans, who packed Yankee Stadium to see Judge break Roger Maris’ 61-year-old AL home run record. He, of course, did not do that during the last three home games of the Yanks’ regular season and that, it seems, was the fault of the Orioles pitchers for not pitching to Judge to give him a better chance.

First of all, I understand the frustration of the Yankees fans. Of course they wanted to see their star player make history in his own ballpark and in front of them. Particularly given the price of tickets in New York, I get it, and I would have gotten it at any other team’s home ballpark as well.

The stupid Yankees announcers, though, should have known better. They are, after all, paid to know better as they are being paid for being the so-called baseball experts.

Baloney.

First of all, through the first two games of the series, the Orioles were still in the hunt for the postseason; what were their pitchers supposed to do, groove pitches until Judge finally got hold of one for the record? I don’t think so.

The Orioles worked very carefully to Judge because he is a tremendous hitter and they wanted to win the ballgames, which they did two out of the three times. Judge batted carefully as well and drew some walks along the way, which he is apt to do over the course of a season; and that is a credit to him and that is part of what makes him such a great hitter.

Yet the Orioles still must have pitched to Judge. They must have challenged him. If they didn’t do either, how does one explain Judge’s striking out six times in the series, including three times in one game?

Thus, for the complete lack of understanding for the game the blowhard Yankees announcers displayed over the weekend, and for the inherent Yankees entitlement they seem to somehow possess, I was very pleased that Judge did not hit No. 62 – against the Orioles.

I am, however, happy for him that he belted it Tuesday night in Texas. He’s a great, great ballplayer, who bet on himself and will be rewarded for it with the enormous contract the Yankees are now in a position to have to give him.

Good for him. Well done.

Meanwhile, it seems some people took issue with my criticism and frustration with Ravens head coach John Harbaugh for his reluctance to use the best placekicker in the game and use him to kick field goals so his team can score points … any points.

That some have taken umbrage of these sentiments is all fine and welcome, but their rationale in doing so is not sound. At all.

These people call themselves football fans?

The use of a placekicker to score points is no way to win a championship? A little history:

In 2000, Baltimore Ravens kicker Matt Stover scored every one of his team’s offensive points over a five-game stretch, as the Ravens offense went an entire month without scoring a touchdown. Despite a defense that was arguably the best in NFL history, no way the Ravens go 2-3 in those games without Stover kicking field goals.

Matt Stover was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor at M&T Bank Stadium.

In 1982, Washington Redskins kicker Mark Moseley, in the strike-abbreviated season, did not miss an extra point and broke the NFL record for most consecutive field goals made. He kicked several game-winners, including the one through a snowfall that clinched the NFC East title for Washington.

To this day, Moseley is the only full-time kicker to have been voted NFL Most Valuable Player.

Both teams turned to their kickers and trusted them to score as many points as they could possibly score.

In each of those years, both teams won the first Super Bowl championship in their franchises’ history.

As the immortal Casey Stengel would say, “You could look it up.”

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT