As incredibly overrated Yankees general manager Brian Cashman put it, “a pot of gold” awaits the gigantic outfielder who bet on himself by turning down a seven-year, $213-million contract extension before the 2022 season. Judge realizes he’s about to break the bank — and more records. After a season for the ages, which included an American League record 62 home runs and a near-miss of the triple crown, he figures to land a record contract, surpassing New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer’s $43-million-per-year figure. Inflation won’t be a concern for Judge, nor his offspring, nor several generations of their offspring for that matter.
We’ve heard all sorts of speculation that the California native will wind up playing for either the San Francisco Giants, who he grew up rooting for, or the Los Angeles Dodgers. We’ve also heard mention of the Texas Rangers, who seem to have an unlimited checking account, and the Mets and Boston Red Sox. Of course, if either the crosstown rival Mets or the hated Red Sox were to sign Judge, some Yankee fans may opt to jump off the George Washington Bridge.
Adding to the negotiation intrigue is the story circulating that Judge has soured on Yankees fans after a smattering of them booed him for his poor post-season performance, which featured a .139 batting average with 15 strikeouts and just two homers in 36 at bats. While those jeers may have irritated him, I have to believe that a guy with the mental moxie to block out the noise during his historic pursuit would not make a decision based on such pettiness. Heck, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Derek Jeter were booed, too — sometimes lustily — by the Bleacher Creatures. I can’t believe Judge is that fragile, or foolish enough to make a decision based on the lunacy of a few knuckleheads.
He’s a bright guy, and this will come down to dollars and cents, or, more accurately, dollars and sense.
I believe he wants to be a Forever Yankee. He’s the toast of the Big Apple. Yankee Stadium, the fourth most homer friendly park in baseball, is another incentive to stay. Ancillary income that comes with being a star in New York would add to Judge’s pie, though that will be chump change compared to his contract.
So, the ball is the hands of owner Hal Steinbrenner and his bungling GM. They have to realize they have no choice but to pay up. Sadly, this brain trust — and I use that term lightly — has already screwed up by bringing back manager Aaron Boone. And since the underachieving Aaron Hicks has three more years left on the overly generous contract Cashman gave him, he could be back, too.
It will be awfully hard to sell Yankee fans on a 2023 club without baseball’s most valuable Aaron since Hank.
Poet T.S. Eliot once lamented that April was the cruelest month, but Syracuse University football fans would beg to differ. See, November has been especially cruel for the Orange, with the Cuse going 6-17 after the calendar is flipped from October under current coach Dino Babers. This penchant for late-season collapses is a continuation of a trend from Babers’ predecessors: Scott Shafer (3-9) and Doug Marrone (5-11).
Part of the swoon has to do with SU’s lack of quality depth. Football is an attrition sport, and the Orange can’t stockpile talent the way many Power Five conference schools can, so when injuries begin to mount, as they have again this season, the lack of depth comes into play.
Syracuse heads into Saturday’s game against Pitt on a two-game losing streak after opening with six consecutive wins. On Monday, the Orange received the bad news that Garrett Williams, an NFL high-round draft prospect and the best cover corner in the Atlantic Coast Conference, suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his knee in Saturday’s decisive loss to Notre Dame. Williams is the fourth Orange starter to have his season cut short by injury.
The good news is that SU still has enough talent to overcome these losses, and each of its remaining games on the schedule (at Pitt; home vs. Florida State, and at Wake Forest and Boston College) is winnable.
The rash of injuries mean the Orange has less margin for error, so a greater onus will fall on Babers and his staff to make smarter decisions with personnel, strategy and clock management. He went too long with quarter Garrett Shrader Saturday, despite knowing the kid was battling an injury. Carlos Del Rio-Wilson, the transfer quarterback from Florida, showed promise that he can be electric while throwing for 190 yards and a touchdown in relief of Shrader. If Shrader remains questionable, Babers should start Del Rio-Wilson.
It would be incredibly disappointing if the Orange experience another November face-plant. Three more wins would give them a chance at a decent bowl game. Three more losses will leave fans wondering about what might have been.
Best-selling author and nationally honored journalist Scott Pitoniak is the Rochester Business Journal sports columnist.