Baseball Can Only Hope Judge Goes After Bonds

BY LESLIE MONTEIRO

(Photo credit: Elsa/Getty Images)

Yankees fans saw history on Friday night at Yankee Stadium. Not what they came to see, but they did see something.

On the night the Yankees took a 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox, they saw Aaron Hicks hit his 100th career home run. In fact, they saw a rare Hicks home run. They even saw him break a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning with a single. That itself should be something they can tell their friends and family considering Hicks has been awful for the last two seasons. We call this a consolation prize or maybe a booby prize if we want to be savage about it.

We all know what they came to see. They wanted to see natural history. They came to see Aaron Judge tie and break Roger Maris’ single-season record for most home runs. It will also be American League and franchise records if Judge breaks Maris’ records. 

On this night, it did not happen. Judge finished with a 1-for-4 night by striking out twice and hitting a single. He is stuck at 60 for the third straight game.

Look at the bright side: We did not get to watch him make history on the wretched Apple TV StreamCast. The announcing trio of Stephen Nelson, Katie Nolan and Hunter Pence turned out to be a trainwreck to the point Michael Kay calling Judge’s pursuit now would be a good thing.

Judge is going to get to 62 sooner or later. It could even happen by the end of the weekend. It would poetic if he did that against the Boston Red Sox at home.

Here’s what baseball fans and Yankees fans want to see: Judge breaking Bonds’ single-season record of most home runs set at 73. 

Yes, Judge breaking Maris’ single-season record should be the record, but we don’t live in that world. Fair or not, Bonds sets the record despite using PEDs to do it. Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire also broke Maris’ record with the help of steroids. It counts in the record books, and there’s nothing Major League Baseball can do about it whether we like it or not. It happened.

Only Judge can change that. He has 12 games to accomplish that feat. Right now, he has a 40% chance. We can use the Dumb and Dumber theory of saying there’s a chance. Anything can happen from now until Oct. 5, the final game of the regular season.

Of course, things have to go right. Pitchers need to cooperate such as pitching to him. Judge has to be lucky. This is what makes baseball unique in the sense that it’s hard to do, even if Judge is using enhancement. Also, the pressure gets higher when the record is about to be near.

Judge handled the pressure with aplomb. He never thinks about it by being more worried about winning games than worrying about his day at the plate. He hasn’t even really acknowledged it unless the media ask him about it. He goes about his business by keeping it simple as in do your job and let it all play out. He comes out prepared every time he is out there.

In a way, his Maris chase has come out easy for him just by the way he goes about it. Remember he is not only out there to break records, but he is out to win a Triple Crown. He leads the American League in batting average, home runs and RBIs. His chase for Maris and Triple Crown emboldens him as a MVP.

Everything is intensified here. The fans are standing up when he is at the plate. Everyone is watching. The media coverage has been overwhelming. There have been like six pages of Judge’s pursuit in the newspaper since this week. Everyone has an opinion on what Judge is doing out there. 

Maybe it hasn’t been as big as it is nationally, but locally, it is. After all, we are parochial when it comes to our pro athletes.  

Yet, there is something special about Judge breaking Maris’ record. He is breaking a franchise record set by a Yankee. It doesn’t get any better than that. He is the right guy to do it.

Judge is classy. He respects the game by taking the time to talk to fans and sign autographs before the games start and making time for the media. He never embarrasses the franchise or the city. He is everything you would want from a human being. He is a role model we can all follow and be proud of by doing it right.

Most of the Yankees have been hard to root for forever whether it’s the past or present. Judge makes it so different. If there is a guy worth breaking Maris’ and all-time single-season home run record, it’s him. He is likable. There’s nothing pretentious about him. He gets it.

Maybe if we are lucky, Judge can break Bonds’ major league home run record set at 762 one day. You know baseball would love to see that, especially Bud Selig. Deep down, even Bonds would love to see it.

If we are lucky, Judge somehow and someway breaks Bonds’ single-season record whether it’s this year or next year or in the future.

This would be a cause for a baseball celebration.

This writer can be reached on Twitter at: @LeslieMonteiro6

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