Watching the Orioles-Yankees game. In the bottom of the fifth, Derek Jeter blasted one to left field that looked like it’d go out. Jeter thought it’d go out for sure, anyway, because he jogged out of the batters box admiring his shot. Except it didn’t go out. It hit off the top of the wall and Jeter had to turn on whatever is left of his afterburners to make second base. He made it, but it was close.
Deep thought: if Jeter is tagged out after dogging it out of the box and admiring his shot, does get lectured about the importance of hustling, a la Robinson Cano? Does he get told he needs to respect the game and play it the right way, a la Yasiel Puig? Or does it work like a bank account, where you can afford to spend a little hot dog, wild horse equity after so many years of deposits? Such a confusing topic.
Anyway, now is as good a time as any to link Dan LeBatard’s excellent article about Yasiel Puig and his very different background and very different mindset than most of his colleagues in the major leagues. No, it doesn’t excuse his lapses, but it does explain them pretty well. And it’s worth thinking about before we start lecturing people about how to play the game the right way.
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: