Joe West is quoted in “The Third Team,” a documentary by MLB Network which will air this Thursday at 9pm, saying that “every time an umpire misses a call, part of him dies inside.”
So Joe West is a zombie, apparently.
No, I kid! I’m a kidder! I’m no fan of Joe West, sure, but he and his brothers in blue are the only ones who can tell us what it’s like to be an umpire in a high-leverage situation like the World Series. And to miss a call. Or, as is far more often the case, make the right calls. And no matter what they do with the calls, to have everyone and their brother watching and second-guessing, which is more than almost all of us can say about our jobs.
And for that reason this looks pretty good:
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: