I’m not going to say that the New York Daily News is going overboard in their coverage of Derek Jeter’s pursuit of Lou Gehrig as the Yankees’ all-time hit king, but this morning they have no less than seven stories on their baseball front page about it. There’s the main news story. The column calling him, rather insensitively in my mind, “the pride of the Yankees.” The regular game story that goes on and on about it. Statistical backfill. Reactions from teammates. A psychological profile. And finally, a tear-jerking human interest story.
And he hasn’t even actually broken the record yet.
I congratulate Derek Jeter for his feat. I really do. But let’s have some perspective here, people. There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball, and each one has a hits leader. Sixteen of those thirty teams have hits leaders with more hits than Lou Gehrig had for the Yankees. Right behind Gehrig/Yankees on that list? Garret Anderson with the Angels.
It’s a nice record. In Jeter/Gehrig it’s certainly a huge name passing an even bigger name. But it’s the kind of thing that should lead to a one day news event, not a week’s worth of coverage. Enough already.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: