The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - M A RK KISZLA Den­ver Post Colum­nist

Char­lie Black­mon is Nazty. But he ain’t no beast. Af­ter watch­ing New York Yan­kees slug­ger Aaron Judge smack base­balls over the moon dur­ing a Home Run Derby that made the All-Star Game look like a sideshow, Black­mon was in awe.

“He looks like a con­tact hit­ter trapped in an ogre’s body,” Black­mon told Adam Berry of MLB.com.

Judge is the new face of baseball. But he’s way more. Judge has the body that could rev­o­lu­tion­ize the game, in the same way run­ning back Jim Brown struck fear in the NFL 60 years ago and Magic John­son for­ever changed the way we look at what bas­ket­ball could be with a 6-foot-9 point guard.

Black­mon is far from a tiny dude. He stands 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs 210 pounds. His lower body is as thick and sinewy as any line­backer on the Bron­cos’ ros­ter. Stand­ing next to Judge, how­ever, Black­mon looks like Aaron’s bearded baby brother.

At 6-foot-7 and 282 pounds, Judge is a beast among men. He has ripped asun­der our his­tor­i­cal con­cep­tion of a power hit­ter and of­fers a glimpse of what baseball could be­come in the not-too-dis­tant


Put it this way: Hank Aaron, rec­og­nized by many baseball lovers still as the true home run king, blasted 755 dingers. Aaron, who was born in 1934 and re­tired from the ma­jors at age 42, stood 6 feet tall and nicely filled out his uni­form. In his prime, Aaron also weighed 100 pounds less than No. 99 for the Yan­kees.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween Mr. Aaron and young Aaron is not only evo­lu­tion­ary but could be revo­lu­tion­ary. With homers fly­ing out of ma­jor-league parks at a record pace, com­mis­sioner Rob Man­fred in­sisted Tues­day with “ab­so­lute cer­tainty” that the base­balls be­ing used in 2017 are not juiced.

I was a “C” stu­dent in science, and don’t pre­tend to be any­thing more than a press box ob­server with mus­tard on my shirt, but when Rock­ies pitcher Jon Gray crushes a homer 467 feet in Coors Field, it does make me won­der if the ball might be wound just a wee bit tightly.

Man­fred says re­search shows the home run is a pop­u­lar play. Well, duh. With Judge knock­ing tele­vi­sion rat­ings for the Home Run Derby out of the park, up a ro­bust 38 per­cent over a year ago, there’s no ar­gu­ing with the com­mish’s ver­dict.

But here’s the prob­lem. As any­body who has watched Rock­ies short­stop Trevor Story swing and miss from his heels, baseball’s ob­ses­sion with the dinger has be­come bor­der­line un­healthy. Through­out the ma­jors, whiffs are also at a record pace for the 10th con­sec­u­tive sea­son. We sit around the ball­park for three hours, wait­ing for the next dude to smack a homer over the fence.

A na­tional pas­time that used to be known as baseball has be­come lit­tle more than a home run derby. Yes, I’m en­thralled watch­ing Aaron Judge, awe­some force of na­ture, take his mighty cuts. But if glo­ri­fied bat­ting prac­tice has be­come more en­ter­tain­ing than the ac­tual game, why would any­body bother to sit through nine in­nings?

Rob Carr, Getty Im­ages

The Rock­ies’ Char­lie Black­mon lines out dur­ing the first in­ning Tues­day night in the All-Star Game at Mar­lins Park in Mi­ami. He went 0-for-3.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.