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JUDGE MAKES MORE STRIKING IMPRESSIONS

By Murray Chass

July 23, 2017

Just as I was beginning to write about the new Aaron Judge, the one pitchers were beginning to catch up to, the old Aaron Judge reappeared. He hit a monstrous three-run home run and drove in a fourth run with a sacrifice fly in the New York Yankees’ 5-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners last Friday night.

I didn’t see the home run, but it apparently awed those who did. Falling only a row or two rows short of exiting Safeco Field, something no ball has done in the park’s 18-year history, the home run was definitely old Judge. By old, I don’t mean age – Judge turned 25 three months ago – but the Judge who hit the season slugging.

We have not often, if ever, seen Judge’s kind of start to a rookie season, discounting the 93 times he batted late last season in a getting-to-know-you visit. Judge, in his brief visit, gave pitchers no reason to figure him out. The 6-foot-7, 282-pound right-handed hitter batted .179 and hit 4 home runs in 27 games.

Boy, did he fool them. But pitchers don’t stay fooled for too long, and in the weeks before the All-Star break, they seemed to be figuring out the Judge puzzle.

I saw a hint of that pitching progress in a five-game stretch in mid-June. Prior to that segment of the schedule, Judge had struck out more than twice in a game only twice. But then came a five-game span on the West Coast in which Judge struck out three times in three different games, one against the Angels, two against the Athletics.

He struck out three times again a few games later, continued striking out regularly and at the start of play Sunday was fourth in the majors with 123 strikeouts, six behind the leaders, Khris Davis of Oakland and Miguel Sano of Minnesota.

As is shown on the accompanying chart, which was compiled with the assistance of the Elias Sports Bureau, Judge averaged …

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FROM BONDS TO CRUZ, ALL-STAR NORMALCY IS BACK

By Murray Chass

July 16, 2017

Reports from the All-Star game last week bordered on giddiness. At Nelson Cruz’s request, Yadier Molina, using Cruz’s phone, took a picture of Cruz with Joe West, the home plate umpire, before Cruz batted in the sixth inning.

Molina did what? He took a picture? On the field? In the sixth inning? What kind of game were they playing?

It was unusual, to be sure. But Cruz obviously felt liberated and acted on that feeling. The All-Star game was no longer linked to the World Series with the winning league’s pennant winner getting home field advantage.

The foolish idea, a Bud Selig creation in cahoots with FOX, existed for 14 years. It was quietly laid to rest …

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NO DIVERSITY IN MLB DIVERSITY HIRING

By Murray Chass

July 9, 2017

Given the paucity of reporting on Major League Baseball’s disgraceful lack of minority hiring for important positions, such as general manager and manager, the article surprised me. The headline, too.

Written by Bill Shaikin, the article appeared in the June 30 edition of The Los Angeles Times under the headline, “Major League Baseball is ‘failing’ in its attempt to increase front-office diversity and the issue could get worse.”

It was brought to my attention by a reader of this site, who obviously has read a column or two that I have written on the subject.

As if the lack of minority hiring weren’t bad enough, Commissioner Rob Manfred makes it worse by talking about …

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