Maybe it’s because everyone wanted to believe it, but Aaron Judge’s ninth-inning flyout to the warning track against the Red Sox Friday fooled everyone.
From the crack of the bat to the roar of the crowd, it seemed like Judge’s towering blast off Matt Barnes was going to walk off the Red Sox in a 4-4 game. Instead, the 2-2 blast fell harmlessly into the glove of Kik? Hernandez for the second out of the inning. This was after a game of frustration for the Yankee faithful, with Judge having walked in three of his first four at-bats, a carry-over from Wednesday when he was walked on four pitches by the Pirates.
Although the Yankees went on to win 5-4 in extra innings with a Josh Donaldson walk-off single, Judge’s near miss sucked the air out of the stadium.
For viewers at home, it wasn’t helped along by Adam Amin’s emphatic call of the near homer, nor the Fox cameraman panning to the scoreboard, which featured Judge smiling about what would have been history. He’s seeking his 61st homer, after all. He was looking to tie Roger Maris with 61 single-season home runs with Maris’ family on hand. It’s a huge moment.
This is where you realize how hard it is to cover a chase for these broadcast teams. Amin doesn’t want to be the one who botches the call on No. 61, and as a national broadcast Fox wants to treat the moment with the grandeur it deserves.
John Sterling, meanwhile, knows Yankee Stadium better than anyone. He was far more restrained in his radio call, so those listening likely were a little more restrained in their premature celebration than those watching.
Again, it’s hard to blame the Fox broadcast, particularly when the homer was so close. With a launch angle of 35 degrees, an exit velocity of 113 mph and a projected distance of 404 feet, “Would It Dong” had the hit out in 13 of 30 ballparks.
For anyone wondering why people were so starved for the fly ball off Judge’s bat, it should be obvious in the context of history. But here’s a look at the pitches Judge saw all night.
Anything hit in the air was going to garner this reaction, particularly with Michael Wacha peppering Judge inside throughout his game.
Judge will have more chances to make history against the Red Sox — three more this weekend, to be exact — and they’re all going to be nationally televised. If Judge even gets pitches to hit, we’ll see if Apple TV+, MLB Network, and ESPN learn from Fox’s over-enthusiasm.