Judge’s homers leave deep impact
The baseball world was still spinning Tuesday after Aaron Judge’s performance in the Home Run Derby on Monday night.
In case you missed it, the New York Yankees rookie hit 47 homers over three rounds in the derby for a distance totaling 3.9 miles, according to MLB.com’s Statcast. Judge hit four home runs of longer than 500 feet, blasting shots of 501, 504, 507 and 513 feet. He scraped the roof with one homer and sailed another over the gaudy, sea-life-themed sculpture in left-center field.
Tuesday, while building inspectors were busy examining Marlins Park for permanent damage, everybody else was gushing. Even commissioner Rob Manfred.
Speaking to the Baseball Writers Association of America during lunch, Manfred said Judge is the kind of player “who can become the face of the game.”
Manfred called Judge “phenomenal.”
“I mean, there is no other word to describe it,” Manfred said. “He is a tremendous talent on the field and really appealing off the field.”
The Yankees rookie leads the majors with 30 home runs at the all-star break.
Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was also impressed, but he put Judge into a little bit of perspective. When a writer asked Kershaw if he thought Judge had a chance to set the single-season home run record, Kershaw gave the writer a quizzical look.
“He’s got what, 30 home runs now? We’ve played what, about 90 games?” Kershaw said. “So just do the math. So no, I don’t think he can catch Barry.”
Barry, of course, is Barry Bonds, who hit 73 — with a steroid asterisk — in 2001. Juiced baseballs. Judging by all of the articles over the last couple of weeks, the theory that juiced baseballs have sparked the record number of home runs this season remains one of the hottest topics in baseball.
Manfred, however, discounted the theory. He insisted that current baseballs are measured and “remain with the industry standard.”
Then the commissioner gave his other reasons for the home run extravaganza, including better training methods and superior conditioning, the fact that pitchers are throwing harder than ever before, and the notion that hitters are willing to strike out more in search of the longball.
“Will we ever know the whole answer? Probably not,” Manfred said. Chuck’s mullet. Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon was a popular figure over two days here during the all-star break. He was almost constantly being interviewed and seemed to enjoy himself.
One exchange, in particular, caught my ear.
Reporter: “Can you talk a little bit about your mullet and your beard? It is like one of the most glorious mullets I’ve ever seen. I would really like to get the back story.”
Blackmon: “Thank you. I think it looks good. I don’t take myself too seriously, and I’m thankful for a job where I don’t have to look nice.” Choose ’em up. Like many other players here, Washington all-star outfielder Bryce Harper is happy that the All-Star Game no longer determines home-field advantage for the World Series. Now Harper wants to see the Midsummer Classic turned on its head.
Harper said Monday that he would like to see the top two vote getters select the two teams regardless of league affiliations. In other words, there would be a mixture of National League and American League players on each all-star squad.
“It’d be great if, let’s say, the two leading vote getters by the fans did a draft system and could pick from both sides,” he said. “So I could be facing (teammate) Max Scherzer — I mean, nobody sees that.
“It would be a lot of fun to do something like that to make it a little more competition to face somebody on your team. Like like if Kershaw was facing Justin Turner, or (Boston’s) Chris Sale was facing Mookie Betts. That’d be a lot of fun.”