Judge’s homers leave deep im­pact

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Pa­trick Saun­ders Pa­trick Saun­ders is the pres­i­dent of the Baseball Writ­ers' As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica: psaun­ders @den­ver­post.com or @psaun­der­sdp

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.”

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