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ROOKIE STAR BECOMES…TAKE YOUR PICK

By Murray Chass

August 21, 2017

How should we judge Aaron Judge? On the basis of the first 10 weeks of the season? On his performance in the 11 weeks since then? Or should we wait for him to play the remaining six weeks and maybe post-season games, too, before making a final decision?

It is a conundrum. Look up that word in a Thesaurus, and you’ll find these synonyms: puzzle, mystery, challenge, problem, riddle. Choose any of those, and that’s what Judge’s season has been.

In the first 10 weeks, he was a rookie phenomenon, leading the major leagues or the American League in practically every significant offensive category. Look for his name now among the offensive leaders. Where did he go?

He was so good in the first 10 weeks and produced so many impressive statistics that as much as he has waned in the past 11 weeks he still is ahead of everyone else in some categories. For example, he finished the Yankees’ three-game series in Boston No. 1 in the American League in home runs, runs, walks, slugging and slugging plus on-base percentage.

Still, Judge’s drop off in production the past 11 weeks has been eye-opening. In that Boston series, he had a single in 12 at-bats. Here is a breakdown of Judge’s lopsided season:

The broadcasters for the Yankees and other outlets trace the start of Judge’s decline to the All-Star break, usually citing statistics since the break, which for Judge included the home run derby. Some players have declined to participate in the derby because they fear they will change their swing to hit more home runs in the Derby and that change would affect their production after the All-Star game.

Judge, however, started slipping nearly a month before the Derby and the All-Star game. The tipoff was the increase in his …

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A FOND FAREWELL TO DONNY BAYLOR

By Murray Chass

August 13, 2017

Warning: Much of this column is not objective. How can it be objective when one of the two players it is about wrote in his 1990 book that I was the reporter he missed the most following his 1988 retirement?

That man was Don Baylor, and now it’s my turn to miss him because he died in the early morning hours of Aug. 7. Darren Daulton died several hours earlier on Aug. 6.

I didn’t know Daulton, but I know more about what killed him than I know about the cause of Baylor’s death, which was multiple myeloma, a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells.

Of the at least eight former major leaguers who had glioblastoma tumors, Daulton lived the longest following diagnosis, but is four years anything to cheer about, especially when …

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A ROSE BY THE NAME OF PETE JUST SMELLS

By Murray Chass

August 6, 2017

Pete Rose apparently didn’t have enough of John Dowd when the Washington, D.C., lawyer’s 1989 investigation of Rose’s baseball betting earned Rose a life sentence in baseball purgatory.

His relentless requests for reinstatement rejected by two commissioners, Rose snatched onto a comment Dowd made in a radio interview and sued Dowd for defaming him. How anybody could defame Rose more than he has defamed himself, I don’t know.

But Rose’s lawsuit against Dowd has inflicted greater damage on Rose than anything Dowd has said about him. Take the latest development in the Dowd-Rose tussle as Exhibit A.

Rose was scheduled to be honored by the Philadelphia Phillies in a weekend of events Aug. 10-12. He played for the Phillies for five seasons, 1979 through ’83, playing an instrumental role in their World Series championship in 1980 and became as loved in Philadelphia as he was for his 16 years in Cincinnati.

So the Phillies planned to fete him at their Alumni Weekend this weekend …

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