Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Was Aaron Judge always too good to be true?

Okay, class... Everybody take out a paper and pen. Flash Quiz!

1. Aaron Judge may miss opening day due to...
a) a cracked rib.
b) a stiff neck.
c) a tweaked gonad.

d) tradition.

2. Aaron Judge last year personally competed with what noted slugger for the most home runs?
a) Pete Alonzo
b) Mike Trout
c) Cody Bellinger
d) Brett Gardner

3. Aaron Judge's career is starting to resemble that of...
a) Giancarlo Stanton
b) Aaron Hicks
c) Jacoby Ellsbury
d) Amelia Earhart 

In case you've missed it - (which means, congrats, you are not wasting your time on Yankee "summer camp") - Judge is out with a "stiff neck," and nobody knows what to do. I suggest chicken soup, acupuncture, or maybe a new writer. We've seen this movie before. The plot is starting to clank. 

The first half of 2017 - when Judge arrived with Ruthian cannons and Reggie-like fireworks - is now four years in the rearview. In 2018, he played 112 games. Last year, he did 102. This year? Well, let's just say one of the few positives of the pandemic is that Judge has yet to miss work. Thank you, Mr. COVID. Still, it's starting to look as though Judge's injuries will outlast the shutdown. And maybe we need to look elsewhere for our savior.

Listen: I'm not blaming Judge. Injuries are part of the game. Nobody here is questioning his spirit, determination or love of the game. Last fall, he broke a rib diving for a liner and then played through the playoffs with the fracture. That's not a candyass. That's a gamer. 

He's not faking. He's just snakebitten. He's a walking pile of tweaks and strains, and Yankee fans must start understanding that Judge might never attain the greatness that once seemed so inevitable. Some guys have sinews that tear, and some guys don't. Judge is starting to look like the guy who is always catching a bad break. (And this is a bad period in history to be such a person.)  

Of course, this could change. Brett Gardner, in his first Yankee incarnation, was always crashing into walls and fracturing body parts. He looked like a lost cause, worse than Ellsbury, and yet here he is - a lifelong Yankee heading into twilight, with a near "Iron Man" reputation. Still, Gardy never had the all-star seasons we yearned for. He's a great Yankee, a great teammate, but does he get a plaque in Monument Park? The numbers won't support it. 

We might have to start seeing Aaron Judge in such a way. Be happy when he plays, but take his picture. Let's hope this neck thing goes away. It sure would be nice to get 50 games out of him this year. The bar has been well-lowered, wouldn't you say?


13bit said...

I have always loved Tiny and thought he should be made captain when he first rolled around. He’s a class act and a good guy. That being said, I have been advocating for him to be traded for the last 2 to 3 years. His value keeps going down and he’s never going to be a great contributor to the team, sadly.

smurfy said...

Tell Judge: Naproxen Sodium and get a good chiropracter. One healed my chronic (two years?) stiff neck. Hasn't been back in 20 years.
Let the giant arise!

ranger_lp said...

Can we wrap Judge in bubble wrap?

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

Isn't this the way of Yankee World?

1950s-1960s -- Mickey Mantle. Great player. Crawled into a bottle and had trouble helping himself out of it. How good would he have been otherwise?

1961 -- Roger Maris. Broke Ruth's record. People (including NYY fans) could not tolerate his challenging of the Bambino's record. Maris couldn't handle it; his hair came out in clumps. Our booing was worse than radiation sickness. I guess.

1980s-1990s -- Donnie Ballgame. Was there ever a more Yankee-fan-favored player? What we won with him in the lineup: Nada.

I'm going to pass over all of the pitchers who did nothing, at great expense. You know who I mean, Carl P, Ed Whitson, and many, many others.

-- Include in there Brien Taylor, the great future rookie sensation . . . left his abilities behind him as the result of a fight. Never got above AA ball.

AND NOW: Judge. Wonderful player. Great attitude. HITS!!!! RUNS!!!! Spectacular in the field, too! But -- can't stay healthy for 5 days in a row.

You might also add the catcher, Gary The Scary, who can really play . . . about 40% of the time. Just enough to be enticing. Not enough to get us anywhere, really.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Well, yes and no, Joe FOB.

Mantle sure as hell drank too much, but his problem was really injuries, starting with that stupid #@!& uncovered sprinkler head in the right field of Yankee Stadium.

He tore his ACL, and it seems to have never been actually repaired.

That said, he still put in a career that Bill James ranks even ahead of WIllie Mays', and at least one Sabremetrician ranks behind only Babe Ruth. You tell me how the hell you do that on an unrepraired ACL for 18 years.

Hell, a lot of his teammates said he actually played better hungover: kept him from overswinging..

HoraceClarke66 said...

...For that matter, it wasn't so much the booing as the Yankees' management trying to tell Maris he didn't have a broken hand that deep-sixed his career in NYC. Mattingly had a bad back, though he still put in a pretty good career.

But yeah, that's how it has always gone in baseball. Every team has their Clint Hartungs, the gods who failed. I don't know if the Yankees have more than others.

I DO agree, though, that there are two damned many of them now. This team is just overtrained. They need to get out of the weight room, especially once the season starts. They are not built for baseball.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Bitty, I've been saying they should trade him, too. But there's the conundrum, isn't it? You know if Cashman were to do that...he'd screw the trade. And...whatever team we traded him to would probably find a proper conditioning coach.

I think Duque's analogies are on the mark. I would add another, non-baseball one: Bill Walton, whose feet just couldn't take the pounding of a full, NBA schedule.

He at least won a championship for Portland before he began to come apart. Judge might've done the same for us, save for the Houston Cheatros.

Anonymous said...

We should've won in 2017. Probably should've won the ALCS in 2019, although I'm pretty sure that we would've lost the WS to the Nats. So Judge, Sanchez and the rest of the paper mache dolls should've had at least one WS ring by now. Heck, Houston and Boston should've had their franchises REVOKED, and their players distributed throughout the two leagues by some kind of lottery or draft. That would've been a fitting punishment and would've been a very good deterrent for future cheaters.

As it is, because of the Houston and Boston cheaters, I feel that our guys already are (sort of) champions. (Sort of like, the American heavyweight in the Olympics who got robbed of the gold medal in the Seoul Olympics.) the Maybe because of that, I don't really want to see these guys get traded. I think they deserve a chance to reach their potential, fulfill their destiny, and win that elusive WS title for real and beat those cheaters.

The Hammer of God

HoraceClarke66 said...

I would like that, too, Hammer. But I dunno. These guys have a feeling about them like the 1980s teams, that they are slowly moving a little further back from winning it all, every year.

Gerrit Cole might have reversed that; we'll have to see. But it's very possible we won't have a real season until 2022, and who knows where everything will be at by then?

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