As a Red Sox fan, I was always fearful when Derek Jeter strode to the plate, especially in anything resembling a clutch or otherwise important situation. I feared him getting a hit with every pitch. Not because I though he had a particularly good chance of getting a hit, of course. Certainly no better than any other member of the Yankees line-up. But I know that if he somehow did…if that slapped groundball somehow dribbled by a Red Sox fielder…I’d never hear the end of it.
After all, the clouds parted if Jeter made even a routine play. Catch a shallow pop fly, for instance, in fair territory and then take several more steps before oddly jumping into the stands instead of taking a right hand turn. My gosh, how many frigging times have I been forced to see that play while announcers insist he dove into the stands in order to make a catch. On a fair ball.
Or, what if there’s a throw from the right fielder in a playoff game that is quite clearly on line and in time to nab a runner at the plate. What if Jeter then needlessly inserts himself into the play, grabs the ball halfway to first base, take several steps into foul territory with it, slowly underhand flips the ball to the catcher who now has to catch the ball all the way to the first base dugout side of the plate and swipe the tag all the way back. (Jeter’s darn lucky the umpire blew the call and called the runner out.) How many times am I forced to endure the torture of seeing that play?
So, imagine how nausea inducing it is when he actually does something worthy of praise. My god, you’d think he’s the only player to ever hit a home run in a World Series game. Or hit a double in the playoffs. It’s simply maddening.
And now we have Aaron Judge making baseball unwatchable by doing the same thing. If he takes a couple steps to catch a fly ball and then keeps running until he crashes into the wall before awkwardly falling over? Oh my gosh, “HE CAN DO MORE THAN HIT!” Never mind the fact that Mookie Betts would be camped under that ball and make the catch flat footed. Never mind that it was actually a poor decision to needlessly crash into the wall. Never mind that it was a clear example of lack of athletic ability when he fell down after crashing. Oh, no. I’m forced to hear about the great defensive play. Over and over.
Or, what if he’s struggling at the plate? I mean, epic struggles. Setting strikeout record after strikeout record. Then, hits a meaningless home run to turn a 5-0 lead into an 8-0 lead? Oh my gosh. “ALL RISE!!! THE FACE OF BASEBALL DOES IT AGAIN!” Yup, once again he gets a meaningless hit. But, once again, I can’t escape the hype.
So, yes. When he’s at the plate in something resembling a clutch situation, I’m scared to death. If he happens to catch a mistake and do something worth celebrating. Well…I don’t even like to think about it.
Which is really too bad. Usually I’d enjoy watching baseball. Even a Yankees game if that’s all that I have. But, I don’t like feeling nauseated.
And that’s what happens every time Judge steps to the plate.