New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge smashes 60th home run – ESPN

New York Yankees' Aaron Judge smashes 60th home run - ESPN

NEW YORK — In the middle of the trot for the most remarkable and historic home run in more than a decade, one that took Aaron Judge to a level graced by baseball royalty, the Yankees slugger chose not to revel or rejoice or luxuriate in the moment. And about an hour later, the Yankees slugger celebrated the 60th home run of his magnificent 2022 season Tuesday night by lamenting the fact that he didn’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.

“I kind of kicked myself as I was running around the bases,” Judge said. “Like, man, idiot, you should have done that a little sooner.”

Later, encouraged by his teammates and manager, Judge offered those who stayed around in Yankee Stadium and were treated to more of his magic a half-hearted curtain call. It was more out of duty than desire. All season long, as he’s chased ghosts and the numbers they’re associated with, the kinds of things that matter a lot in baseball’s world but very little in Judge’s, he’s been unabashedly steadfast in his insistence that the team supersedes the individual. To him, this all felt strange, disappointing, wrong — another round number reached, but with his team still down three runs and just three outs away from another loss, just like when he hit 50.

Something just happened. Antonio Rizzo reached base, and then Gleyber Torresand then Josh Donaldsonand stepped up Giancarlo Stantonand Will Crowe 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 out of the dugout, there to greet his teammates at home plate, to celebrate an improbable 9-8 victory that took a night that mattered to the rest of the world and filled it with consequence for him. , too.

How wild is it to believe that Judge thinks this way — that he’s so team-focused, so tunnel-minded, that he doesn’t allow himself the grace to enjoy this moment unless his teammates also have something to celebrate — everyone. around he swears it’s true. That he really is machine-like in his conviction, the opposite personality for the person whose one-time record he tied on Tuesday.

When Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run to break his own mark in 1927, he said after the game, “Sixty! Count ’em, 60! Let’s see some other son of a b—- match that!” It was pure Babe: a little arrogant and a lot bombastic, appreciative even in the moment of his place in history, perhaps because he was so used to writing it. The early baseball record books featured Ruth’s name so much that they felt biographical. He was the game in the 1920s, and that he continues to play such a prominent role a century later illustrates that for all the pomp, he understood the enormity of the shadow he cast.

Others eventually won 60 — first Roger Maris in 1961, then Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, although the latter three were aided by performance drugs, a fact that doesn’t invalidate their achievements as much as it offers important context. through which to see them. Ruth’s record came before integration. That of Maris preceded the internationalization of the game. Each brand carries its own baggage.

Which is part of the reason Judge excuses himself from talking about numbers. He said “60” only once in a press conference following the game. He said “team” at least 10 times. He could embroil himself in a debate about the true record or the correct record. He prefers an almost anthemic dedication to the party line he lives by.

“To get a chance to play baseball at Yankee Stadium, a packed, 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, we got a chance to come back here and do something special. I’m trying to enjoy it all, soak it all in, but I know I still have a job to do on the field every day.”

He seems to mean it: somehow this life, this reality, doesn’t bother Judgment. As much as Ruth enjoyed it, Maris loathed it. As he and teammate Mickey Mantle chased Ruth in 1961, Maris headlined coffee and ripped cigarettes and watched his hair fall out in clumps. And as much as he wanted to perform, Maris viewed his legacy as a burden, saying, “It would have been a lot more fun if I never hit those 61 home runs. All it brought me were headaches.”

A judge’s head is stable, clear, unshakable. Which is lucky, because as much as he would have enjoyed writing down the numbers — hitting 61 to tie Maris for the American League record and 62 to break it — he almost accidentally ensured there wouldn’t be a clean slate. In addition to owning unbeatable leads in home runs and runs batted in, Judge’s blast in the ninth pushed his batting average to an AL-best .316. That means when the Yankees stay through the final 15 games of their season and look to lock up an AL East title in a division they now lead by 5½ games over Toronto, they will do so with Judge chasing more than just Ruth and Maris. but the second Triple Crown in the last half century.

This is a man who 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 performance, the impending free agency that comes with an entirely different kind of number this winter. On Tuesday, he allowed himself a self-check on his predecessors — “You’re talking about Ruth and Maris and Mantle and all these Yankee greats…” Judge said — but didn’t delve much deeper into that thinking.

The past is about ego. The giveaway is about a team. And the New York Yankees, undeniably Aaron Judge’s team, delivered perhaps their best win of the season on Tuesday. As Stanton trotted for the grand slam that was, Judge was able to clear his mind of what could have been, unencumbered.

On the night he hit 60 — yes, Babe, count them, 60 — he rejoiced and rejoiced and luxuriated 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 would take the grand slam that won the Yankees another baseball game.

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