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You be the Judge
Aaron’s big gamble
Good Morning, all. I hope you are doing well.
As long as baseball is embracing betting faster than Pete Rose can locate the nearest bookie, why not write about Aaron Judge, who has placed a massive bet on his ability to have a turbo-charged season?
The Yankees oft-injured outfielder, who turns 30 on Apr. 26, becomes a free agent at season’s end. He had set a deadline of Opening Day to secure a new contract with the Yankees, otherwise he would not negotiate during the season and become a free agent.
That the Yankees are peeved is an understatement. Negotations between the club and Judge, represented by PSI Sports management, broke off hours before the season’s first game against the Red Sox on Friday afternoon. Yankees GM Brian Cashman took the unusual step of making the club’s contract offer public. Judge walked away from a seven-year, $213.5 million dollar offer. Imagine walking away from a contract that would pay $30.5M a year for seven years?
Judge has every right to turn down an offer than would make him the highest everyday player in franchise history. (Only pitcher Gerrit Cole would top him at $36M per season.) The Yankees have every right not to offer him a second chance at negotiations, if he has a below-average season.
That is why Judge is making a bigger gamble than a Pete Rose bet. Since his first full season with the Yankees in 2017, he has suffered numerous injuries. In fact, he has only given the club two full, healthy seasons. And, let the record show, he has not guided the historic franchise to the promised land. The Yankees have not won a pennant or World Series since 2009, when Judge was playing high school ball. Judge’s playoff performances have also been spotty.
I could be wrong, but my guess is the Yankees will not offer Judge another contract. They do not like to be spurned. If you recall, negotiations with the iconic Derek Jeter over his last contract as a player became contentious, and Cashman was quick to remind Jeter, he would have no problem replacing him with a more than adequate shortstop.
Finding outfielders is easier than locating shortstops. The Yanks have several young, talented outfielders in their system, not to mention outfielders are always available, during free agency.
So good for Judge to exercise his right. Should he have a monster season, he could ring up the cash register. But my hunch is, he will not be a Yankee after 2022, great year or not. If he has that monster year, however, he could still end up in pinstripes. There is a team across town that also dons pinstripes on occassion, and their owner is a multi-billionaire, who would love nothing more than to stick it to the Yankees.
Remembering baseball fan FDR
Seventy-seven years ago today, the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt died from a cerebral hemmorage in Warm Springs, GA. When the Cincinnati Reds played MLB’s first night game on May 24, 1935, it was FDR who turned on the Crosley Field lights from the White House. When the U.S. entered World War II, there was talk that baseball should stop, but FDR encouraged the sport to continue, providing a war consumed nation with a diversion.
FDR’s successor, Harry S. Truman, was not an ardent baseball fan, but his wife Bess was. She was known to sit by the radio, keeping score of Washington Senators games and when the Truman’s moved back to Independence, MO, she would watch the Kansas City Athletics on TV, her trusty scorecard in hand.
Baseball salutes Jackie Robinson
Seventy-five years ago this coming Friday will mark the date Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier. MLB and its minor league affiliates will remember the occasion with numerous ceremonies.
Lo these many years ago, in 1983, I had the chance to interview Negro League star Buck Leonard, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. He talked about Robinson and the great Josh Gibson in the interview.
That historic season was well chronicled by Brooklyn Dodgers broadcaster Red Barber in his book “When All Hell Broke Loose In Baseball.” I interviewed Barber in 1978 on a number of topics.
By the way, all MLB players will once again where Robinson’s No. 42 on the back of their uniforms, but this time the numerals will be the color of Dodger Blue.
Despite the sometimes legitimate criticism, more often than not, baseball does get it right.
That is going to do it for this week’s newsletter. As always, thank you for your support and may peace someday return to our world.