By Mark Paulette
Look out, folks, because I’m about to ruffle some feathers with six little words. I am an Aaron Judge fan. I know, it’s blasphemous to put the word “like” or any other synonym in the same sentence as a member of the New York Yankees in these parts, but I can’t help it.
It goes against everything I’ve been taught, against every fiber of my baseball being. You can respect a Yankee, but you can’t admire one. But I don’t care, because I’m right and everyone else is simply in denial.
You can’t not like the guy. Just in case the 30 home runs and flirtatious chase at the Triple Crown didn’t strike your fancy in the first half, Judge held court at Monday’s Home Run Derby, launching 3.9 miles worth of home runs. But what caught my attention was the boyish amusement and joy Judge displayed while captivating the capacity crowd.
Judge sat in foul territory and cheered on Miguel Sano as the two battled for the championship. The rookie knew that no matter what Sano conjured at the plate, it wouldn’t be enough to stave off the Godzilla that was lurking on deck. Once Judge stepped into the box, his mammoth shots were met with lightening which illuminated the sky through the giant glass windows of the enclosed dome. It was as if the baseball gods were trying to draw the parallels between Judge and Roy Hobbs.
Judge was adopted the day after his birth by a pair of school teachers in California, where he blossomed into a three-sport star in high school. Judge was recruited to play tight end by Notre Dame, Stanford and UCLA. Oh by the way, he also led his high school basketball team in scoring, though chose to pursue the sport which he fell in love with as a child, baseball.
Now, as the 25-year-old barnstorms across the majors, he does so while combining the sheer jaw dropping production of Alex Rodriguez with the cool, composed demeanor of Derek Jeter.
Through 80-plus games, it’s unclear what is possible when it comes to Aaron Judge. Can he sustain the success? Can he push 60 home runs? Hell, who’s to say that in Yankee Stadium, he won’t flirt with 73 homers once he reaches his prime. Whatever the future holds for the budding face of the game, all I ask is that we look beyond the name on the front of his jersey and admire the fact that we may be witnessing one of the most unique athletes the game has ever seen.
So don’t get all fussy Red Sox fans. Yes, I like Aaron Judge, a member of the Yankees. But I only do so with supreme confidence in my Red Sox fandom. When the Sox are losing 14-1 in the 8th inning on a Tuesday in mid-August, I’m still locked to the TV. I’m still scouring the box score after the game, memorizing all the players who appeared in the game.
If you are of the mindset that by admitting Judge is likeable it will somehow diminish your loyalty to the Sox, I feel sorry for you. If you think less of me for openly admiring a Yankee, so be it. (I challenge you to any Red Sox-related trivia or activity, for you will lose and I will embarrass you so-called loyalists). I hope to see the 6’8” goliath continue the torrid start to his career, I just hope it doesn’t translate to team success.
I like Aaron Judge, and I don’t think it’s too much to say you should too.
*I reserve the right to change my opinion should anything transpire in which Judge aids the Yankees in defeating the Red Sox this weekend or at any point in the future.*