NEW YORK — Stephen A Smith dug deep in his bag to deliver a rant regarding the Toronto Blue Jays walking Aaron Judge — who is one home run shy of tying the AL single-season record — four times on Tuesday night. Smith was displeased, to say the least, and pointed to the growing unpopularity of baseball among young fans.
“This is the problem with baseball, this is why baseball doesn’t get to ingratiate itself with the younger generation,” Smith said on ESPN’s “First Take” Wednesday morning. “You’re going to walk Aaron Judge four times? Pitchers, could you have some heart, please? Isn’t it your obligation to go out there and show what you’re worth? If that was Nolan Ryan, what would he do? If that was Randy Johnson what would he do?”
Smith continued by naming other former pitchers such as Goose Gossage and Ron Guidry to remind his viewers that he does indeed know the names of baseball players. He even pointed to the fact that he himself would be able to walk Judge four times in a baseball game.
Smith does have a point, though.
Judge has been walked 12 times in 31 plate appearances since he hit his 60th homer last week against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Although Judge has had pitches to do some damage with, they’ve been few and far between and most of the time fouled off. He still leads in all of the AL Triple Crown categories and his walks have led to runs that have helped secure wins for a Yankee team that desperately needed them.
The Yankees’ superstar has eight games left to hit two homers and break Roger Maris’ AL record. The Yanks have one game remaining in Toronto — it remains to be seen if Judge will be in the lineup after Tuesday night’s division-clinching celebration — before they head home for their final homestand of the season against the Baltimore Orioles. Judge will then have just three games to break the record in front of his home crowd.