On Monday night, Aaron Judge managed to turn a jaded 34-year old man into a kid with the magic of a baseball bat and make the Home Run Derby a spectacle again.
That 34-year old, of course, is me. I was left breathless watching the Yankees’ rookie bomber step into a spot where many a prematurely anointed star have failed and effortlessly rise to the occasion.
Judge’s first-round opponent Justin Bour mashed 22 home runs, applying massive amounts of pressure to the first time participant that was also the co-favorite. While Bour was putting the finishing touches on a virtuoso performance of his own, Judge was snapping selfies with the other All-Stars on the field, apparently unbothered by the task ahead of him.
With just over two minutes left in the round, he still trailed 22 to 9. Judge took the one timeout he was allotted, got his mind right, and proceeded to put on one of the greatest exhibitions of athletic prowess I’ve seen since Vince Carter 17 years ago in the NBA Dunk Contest. Like a prime Carter, Judge just did things that made you just sit back, take notice and if you weren’t careful, have your jaw repeatedly hitting the floor with what he did.