After watching Cliff Lee spend Game 3 of the ALCS toying with the New York Yankees with great amusement (how cute of you to try to score runs off me!), Nolan Ryan must have been feeling smug.
He certainly sounded like it when asked how much it would cost to keep the pending free agent pitcher (as delivered by Howard Bryant of ESPN):
“Go across the hall and ask them. I think he got their attention tonight.”
I suppose there is a chance Texas, which will have some big TV money coming down the pike in a couple years, could make a serious bid to keep the left-hander, but the smart money has Lee in New York next season, as everyone knows the Yankees have the resources to outbid anyone when they really want a player.
Either way, you have to admire Ryan enjoying the moment and getting in a dig.
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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: