Michael Jordan was famously left off his high school varsity basketball team, left to play with the JV team as a sophomore; something that fueled his historic basketball career all the way through college and the NBA, landing “His Airness” in the Hall of Fame. For Aaron Judge, living with the disappointment of losing in the American League Playoffs to the eventual World Series Champions the last two years is what has fueled his play so far in the Yankees’ domination of the Minnesota Twins. The Pinstripes, lead by #99 in right field, are currently on a collision course with the Houston Astros for the right to go to this year’s World Series.
The 27-year-old right fielder has been a tour de force in The Bronx, making the fans rise with his tape measure home runs, Gold Glove level outfield play, and all the while taking on the leadership role of a player possessing the service times players like Jeter had in their later years. No one carries the Pinstripe flag better than Judge, who speaks like one of the team’s famous owners when he says, “Any year you’re not the last man standing, the season is a failure.”
Judge, speaking after his team’s 8-2 win on Saturday, giving the Yankees a 2-0 series lead over the Minnesota Twins knows that two wins means there are nine more to go in the postseason to reach their goal. “Each year, it left a bad taste in my mouth. All I’m thinking about is all the missed opportunities from years past, and I don’t want that to happen again this year. I’m just going to do whatever I can until we’re done playing. We’re hungry. And you guys are seeing it”
While Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman doesn’t believe in having a formal team captain, as far as the New York Yankees are considered, Aaron Judge is already their leader. His performance on the field is matched by his poise and leadership off the field, with other players, the media and fans always curious about what #99 thinks about a situation. Like #2 was a shortstop, Judge has reminded many of Derek Jeter; but the right fielder has taken a leadership role much faster than the shortstop did in his younger years, making Judge both a fan favorite and one of the most liked players in the organization.
So far Aaron Judge as reached base seven times in his ten plate appearances against the Minnesota Twins, helping the team win the first two games of their ALDS series and putting them one win away from the American League Championship Series. That was the same place where Judge and the Yankees were two years ago before losing to the Houston Astros in a hard fought seven-game series. This time around, Aaron Judge will likely will have a chance to exorcise those demons of 2017, with each team one win away from making a trip to Houston a reality for the New York Yankees, allowing the two best teams in the American League to battle it out for a chance to go to this year’s World Series. Something the unofficial captain of the Pinstripes wouldn’t have any other way.