NEW YORK — In the throes of the biggest and most historic home run in more than a decade, one that led to Aaron Judge at the level of baseball royalty, the Yankees slugger chose not to revel or rejoice or enjoy the moment. And about an hour later, the Yankees slugger celebrated the 60th home run of his magnificent 2022 season on Tuesday night by lamenting the fact that he hadn’t hit it earlier in the game, when the bases were loaded, as opposed to when he did, in the bottom of the ninth inning with them empty and New York trailing the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“He was kicking me while I was running the bases,” Judge said. “He was like, ‘Man, you asshole, you should have done this a little earlier.'”
Eventually, egged on by his teammates and manager, Judge had offered those who had stayed at Yankee Stadium and enjoyed his magic more a lukewarm curtain call. It was more out of duty than desire. All season long, while chasing ghosts and the numbers they’re associated with — the kind of things that matter a lot in the baseball world but very little in Judge’s — he’s been incredibly adamant that the team replace the individual. To him, all of this felt strange, disappointing, wrong: Another round number was reached, but with his team still down three runs and just three outs from another loss, as when he reached 50.
It was only then that something happened. Anthony Rizzo got to base and then Gleyber Torresand then Josh Donaldsonand arrived at the plate Giancarlo StantonY Will Crowe he left a changeup too high, and Stanton sent it over the left-field wall on a line drive. This time, it seemed Judge was the first off the bench, there to greet his teammates at the plate, to celebrate an unlikely 9-8 victory that took an important night for the rest of the world and imbued it with consequences. for him, too.
As far-fetched as it is to believe that Judge thinks this way: that he’s so team-focused, so visionary, that he doesn’t allow himself the grace to enjoy this moment unless his teammates also have something to celebrate, everyone around him swears. What’s the true. That he really is like a machine in his conviction, the reverse personality of the person whose single record he tied on Tuesday.
When Babe Ruth hit his own record-breaking 60th home run in 1927, he said after the game, “Sixty! Count ’em up, 60! Let’s see another motherfucker match that!” He was pure Babe: a little arrogant and rather bombastic, even now grateful for his place in history, perhaps because he had gotten so used to writing it. Early baseball record books included so much of Ruth’s name that they seemed biographical. He was the game in the 1920s, and the fact that he continues to play such a prominent role a century later illustrates that, for all the pomposity, he understood the enormity of the shadow he was casting.
Others eventually passed 60, first Roger Maris in 1961, then Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds, though the latter three were aided by performance-enhancing drugs, a fact that doesn’t invalidate their achievements so much, but it does offer important context. through which to see them. Ruth’s registration came before the integration. Maris preceded the internationalization of the game. Each brand carries its baggage.
Which is part of the reason Judge excuses himself from talking numbers. He said “60” only once in a postgame news conference. He said “team” at least 10 times. He could get bogged down in a debate about real registration or legitimate registration. He prefers an almost anthemic dedication to the party line he lives by.
“Having the opportunity to play baseball at Yankee Stadium, full house, first-place team, that’s what you dream about,” Judge said. “I love every second of it. Even when we were down, you don’t like to lose, but I knew the top of the lineup was coming up, we had a chance to come back here and do something special. I’m trying to enjoy it all, soak it all up, but I know I still have a job to do in the field every day.”
He seems to mean it: Somehow this life, this reality, doesn’t bother Judge. As much as Ruth reveled in it, Maris detested it. As he and his teammate Mickey Mantle chased after Ruth in 1961, Maris drank coffee and smoked cigarettes and watched his hair fall out in clumps. And as much as he tried to perform, Maris saw his legacy as a burden, saying, “It would have been a heck of a lot more fun if I never hit those 61 home runs. All it brought me was headaches.”
Judge’s head is firm, clear and unwavering. Which is fortunate, because as much as he would enjoy getting the numbers out of the way (getting to 61 to tie Maris for the AL record and 62 to break it), he almost accidentally ensured there would be no clean slate. In addition to having unbeatable leads in home runs and RBIs, Judge’s home run in the ninth boosted his batting average to an American League-best .316. That is, as the Yankees play the final 15 games of their season and look to clinch an AL East title in a division they now lead by 5½ games over Toronto, they will do so with Judge chasing not only Ruth and Maris, but also to the second Triple Crown in the last half century.
This is a man who has played his entire career in the Bronx. A man who turned down a seven-year contract extension on Opening Day. Aaron Judge knows the pressure of the numbers, the accolades, the team’s performance, the looming free agency that comes with an entirely different kind of number this winter. On Tuesday, he allowed himself to mention his ancestors: “You talk about Ruth, Maris, Mantle and all these Yankee greats …” Judge said, but he didn’t delve much further into that line of thought.
The past has to do with the ego. This is about the team. And the New York Yankees, without a doubt Aaron Judge’s team, had perhaps their best win of the season on Tuesday. As Stanton trotted off after hitting a game-clinching grand slam, Judge was able to take his mind off what could have been, without any charge.
The night he hit 60 (yeah, baby, count ’em, 60), he reveled, rejoiced, and reveled in a different home run, hit by a different man of immense stature. The world can have the remarkable and historic solo shot. Aaron Judge will take the grand slam that gave the Yankees another game of baseball.
We want to say thanks to the writer of this short article for this amazing content
On a magical night in the Bronx, Aaron Judge puts more history at your fingertips