Allegany Communications Sports
If Lamar Jackson’s betting on himself is working out pretty well so far, then Aaron Judge’s wager on himself is going absolutely boffo.
Like Jackson, Judge turned down an enormous amount of money from his team, the New York Yankees, believing he could produce a season that would earn him an even more obscene payday (and more power to him), and like Jackson, he is doing things on his field of play that have never been done before.
Hold on … Being told what Judge is doing has been done before, but just be patient, please.
First of all, to paraphrase The Greatest, I ain’t got no quarrel with no Aaron Judge. I have long admired him as a baseball player and, like everybody else, have marveled at his larger than life presence on the field and his calm and polite manner off of it.
Although back in May during the Yanks’ first visit to the newly reconfigured Camden Yards, Judge showed a childish, entitled side of himself after hitting a pair of bombs to left that were caught for outs, as well as a 380-foot rocket that just kind of rolled around and led to his being thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple.
The point is, last year and the 28 seasons before it in Oriole Park, all three balls would have easily been home runs.
“It’s a travesty, man” Judge said after the game. “I’m pretty upset. It just looks like a Create-A-Park now.”
Well, boo-flipping-hoo. Had the special Master Judge (see what I did there?) run hard out of the box on the third hit ball he wouldn’t have embarrassed himself by being thrown out at third, so it served him right. Not only that, though I was once more not included in the Orioles’ planning meeting (what’s that all about?), I’m pretty sure they really had no concern about sparing Judge’s feelings when they drew up the new dimensions.
On top of that, the larger left field has indeed helped the Orioles have the success they are having this season, which, I’m guessing was the idea.
Yet Judge is producing a season for the ages, having tied former Yankee Roger Maris (why isn’t he in the Hall of Fame?) with an American League record 61 home runs and being in line to win the AL Triple Crown. Truly remarkable. But note: that says American League record, not Major League record, so let’s not get our home-run under garments in a bunch and remember that.
As of this moment, whether we like it or not (and we do not), the top six home run seasons in MLB history have been produced by National Leaguers Barry Bonds (73), Mark McGwire (70), Sammy Sosa (66), McGwire (65), Sosa (64) and Sosa (63).
Judge and Maris stand tied at seventh with 61.
I mention this only because our perception of the hype over Judge’s accomplishments is fast becoming a product of revisionist history, which, of course, has become a way of being for too many in these twisted times we find ourselves in. Just because we may not like it does not mean something did not happen.
Slavery and the Holocaust never happened, and important and powerful literary works such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” were not written because these events will not be taught and these books have been taken out of the libraries of too many demented schools systems?
Bonds, who is also the career home run leader with 762, McGwire and Sosa did not amass these totals because they used steroids? Major League Baseball and its weasel commissioner Bud Selig, every player in the big leagues, every fan and every living being on the planet knew at the time they were on steroids. And, though who knows how many federal laws were being broken, MLB looked the other way and allowed them to use steroids because chicks dig the long ball and it put fannies in the seats.
So it just didn’t happen as long as we say it didn’t happen and ignore it. Oh, it happened, Jerry.
Yet, watch, we are on the verge of a groundswell of outcry that Judge and Henry Aaron are the true home run kings.
While I do not approve, Judge and Aaron are likely the honest home-run kings, but Barry Bonds is the single-season and career home run king.
It happened. Blame Bud Selig.
And from the Only in Baseball file, there is a special symmetry at work here as Judge hit his 61st home run in 2022 to tie Maris’ AL record of 61 home runs set in 1961 … 61 years ago.
And by the way, Maris tied Ruth’s then record by hitting No. 60 off of Frostburg’s Fat Jack Fisher of the Baltimore Orioles in the original Yankee Stadium. Judge will go for the AL record tonight in the newest Yankee Stadium in the opener of a three-game series against … the Baltimore Orioles.
As the great Roy Hobbs once said, “God, I love baseball.”
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