On Sunday, Aaron Judge went 0 for 4. There is nothing particularly fascinating approximately an 0-for-4 afternoon. Going into Monday, hitters had gone 0 for 4 precisely 1,614 times this season, and nearly everything of them treat their 0 for 4s like a charley horse, temporarily painful and best shaken off. Judge prefers another tack. Four years back, before he was the major leagues’ most fearsome power hitter, before he inspired the current York Yankees to create a special section in their billion-and-a-half-dollar stadium devoted to him, Judge was a green draft pick who sought advice from a sage veteran and glommed onto one specific piece.
“luxuriate in the 0 for 4s,” Judge said. “Not really luxuriate in them, but learn from them. Don’t execute everything a negative. Turn it into a positive. The days you’re 0 for 4, request why you were 0 for 4. Was it the pitcher making edifying pitches, and I just need to recoup and bag ready for the next day? Or was it something with my swing? Or did I not prepare the right way? Learn from those so you can turn everything into a positive.”
Never was Derek Jeter a particularly vocal leader. No rah-rah cheerleading or back-slapping motivation. He did so by example and by deed, like the time he was rehabbing his backside, behind, bottom ankle in Tampa, saw the current first-round pick had arrived, walked up to him and said. “Hey, Aaron, mighty to meet you. mighty to occupy you on board.” And though this may seem like the daily, honest, proper thing to conclude, baseball culture does not precisely encourage any of them.
So it wasn’t just because Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter that Aaron Judge clings to his words these days. It’s because there was real kinship there in that Judge, too, from the time he was dinky, had been taught how to treat people well and embodied it. Everything comparing Judge to Jeter seems like current York tabloid hype, clickbait central casting, everything of the typical media bloviating that surrounds the latest gargantuan thing in pinstripes.
And then Judge talks. And his teammates talk approximately him. And it starts to execute sense.
Here’s something you may know approximately Judge: His parents, who adopted him the day after he was born, are teachers. Here’s something you may not know approximately Judge: Were he not 6-foot-7 and 282 pounds of domestic race-hitting genius, he would’ve joined them.
“I’d be a teacher,” Judge said. “I like seeing that light bulb click. I just like helping people, to be honest. I want to see people conclude well. And I want to see them bag the most out of themselves.”
Judge’s father, Wayne, taught phys ed mostly. His mother, Patty, bounced around from subject to subject and ended up giving lessons in leadership. These are the ones that stuck with Judge. Prepare. Be on time. Execute. Don’t necessarily conclude the talking. Sometimes the leader can be the one who compels those whose words may be more impactful to utter them.
“Somebody can lead by example or vocally,” Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia said. “Jeter was a guy you could watch and conclude things the right way. moment [Rivera] was a guy who could speak up. Aaron is a guy with the ability to conclude both. That’s tough to find, particularly in someone that young.”
Sabathia is the moment-longest-tenured Yankee as well as their moment-oldest, and neither he, the most tenured (Brett Gardner) nor the eldest (Matt Holliday) can stop raving approximately Judge. Two or three days into his cup of coffee with the team final season, Judge went up to Sabathia and asked why the Yankees didn’t play more music in the clubhouse. by far than remind Judge a rookie’s residence in the clubhouse, Sabathia conferred with outfielder Aaron Hicks and handed over DJ duties to Judge.
“I contemplate it’s the first time I’ve ever been in a clubhouse where no one complains approximately the music,” Hicks said. “He’s just a edifying, genuine person. He cares approximately his teammates. There’s nothing really unpleasant you can say approximately him. He does it the right way.”
At 25 years extinct, Judge is threatening to conclude things no rookie has done before. His 15 domestic runs lead baseball. No rookie has hit 50. Only sign McGwire, with 49, cracked the 40-homer threshold. He’s walking more, too, and striking out far less than final year, when he punched out in half of his 84 at-bats and looked lost at the plate.
Judge never panicked. He came to spring training without a job, laid low during spring training and simply acted like he belonged. Some Yankees veterans pay the clubhouse attendant dues for minor leaguers who play in gargantuan league games during the spring. It’s not a ton of money, but it’s a nice gesture for millionaires to pay it forward to those making pennies in the minors. Rare is the rookie who chips in to the kitty. Rare, too, of course, is a player like Aaron Judge.
catch the time final month he was at the current York shoe mecca Flight Club doing some shopping and thought not of himself but Holliday.
“I saw Matty was rocking the extinct-school Air Force Ones,” Judge said. “I saw a couple pairs that I thought he might like to wear during BP. I shot him two pictures, said, ‘Hey, which one you like?’ He said, ‘Surprise me.’ I thought I’d conclude something nice.”
Which did Judge choose? The Derek Jeter version with pinstripes to match the Yankees’ domestic jersey, naturally.
Because it’s barely seven weeks into his breakout, and because baseball is the sort of game that can turn on a player in a blink, anointing Judge anything is pre-emptive. It is honest, Sabathia said, to point out that his makeup is off the charts and he possesses the sort of fortitude to thrive in the current York fishbowl. And it is also honest, Yankees DH Chris Carter said, to call Judge’s prodigious power among the game’s best. Carter led the National League in domestic runs final season, and when asked whether a past teammate had been capable of hitting a ball farther than him, Carter said, with a edifying amount of confidence, “I don’t contemplate there’s been anyone. Ever.” Then he joined the Yankees and met Aaron Judge. “Every day,” Carter said, “he’s hitting it farther than everyone else.”
whether everything this sounds too edifying to be moral, well, yeah. Just contemplate approximately how long the Yankees occupy been waiting for someone like Judge to elaborate up to the Bronx. Jeter debuted in 1995. They’ve drafted more than 1,000 players since then, signed hundreds more international free agents. The closest to Jeter, in terms of talent, was Robinson Cano, and he left for Seattle. Judge isn’t just the latest heir. He is the likeliest.
Downs eventually will accompany the ups that occupy sustained Judge thus far. He snapped an 0-for-10 skid Tuesday. There will be more. And when they reach, he’ll remember that advice he got from Jeter that heartened him during his struggles final year and continues to nowadays.
“Not too many people bag a chance to be on a major league field,” Judge said. “I’ll catch an 0 for 4 whether I bag to step out on that field.”
Like so many other things Aaron Judge is doing, he might even luxuriate in it.
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