There was a nice story in the New York Times yesterday detailing just how crazy U.S. Supreme Court justices have tended to be about baseball over the years. Alito is a huge Phillies fan who, despite observing that the Phanatic, well, kind of smells, had him as a guest at a party once. Sotomayor is a big Yankees fan. Nominee Elena Kagan is a Mets freak. The person she would replace — Justice Stevens — was actually at the game in the 1932 World Series when Babe Ruth allegedly called his shot.
The best bit in the whole story, however, comes in an anecdote that makes me feel better about all the time I spent thinking about baseball while working back at the law firm:
Intense devotion to the national pastime at the Supreme Court is not a new phenomenon. In 1973, while the court heard arguments during the National League Championship Series, Justice Potter Stewart passed a note to Justice Harry A. Blackmun that exhibited a nice sense of proportion.
“V.P. Agnew just resigned!!” the note said, adding, “Mets 2 Reds 0.”
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: