Stamford, CT: It was a nice little Sunday for a Yankees/Giants fan like me. I spent the day fawning over Aaron Judge and his two homers, four hits, and four RBIs, and trying to figure out how the Giants pulled off another ugly win. Anyway, in the spirit of full disclosure, if you’re not into fawning over Judge and the Giants, maybe come back tomorrow.
Judge, Jury and Mother Effing Executioner
A lot of baseball players talk about winning being the most important thing but they don’t really mean it. They’re looking to pad their stats at every opportunity over playing smart baseball.. But not Aaron Judge, this guy does it right. Forget the fact that he’s leading baseball in almost every measurable hitting category and is now threatening to win the triple crown. He does the little things too.
There was a game against the Rays where the Yanks were trying to pull out of free fall and were losing ground to the Rays and Blue Jays like Short Matt was losing hair in college. The Yanks would lose the game four to two (largely due to some bad defense in left by Aaron Hicks), and the loss pulled the Rays to within three and a half games of the Yanks (two and half in the loss column). With two games left in the series, this was a scary point in the season for our Bronx heroes. If they got swept, it would be a disaster.
Judge came up in the ninth of the game with two outs and no one on. He took a strike and then three straight balls. The next pitch was a meatball down the middle that Judge let pass. I’m here to tell you, 99.5% of baseball players in his position would have swung at this pitch and tried to launch one into orbit and pull closer to Roger Maris and the AL HR record. But Judge knows that even a guy hitting .315 in an MVP season is more likely to get out. So he took the count full, fouled off a pitch, then got his walk. Gleyber Torres then came to the plate as the tying run, so it was mission accomplished by Judge. And Gleyber damn near hit one out to tie the game.
Compare that to countless players who swing at 2-0 pitches in the ninth when their team is down multiple runs. You need baserunners, dummy. Down 4-1 in the ninth on Friday, Miguel Anduar tried to hit a 2-0 pitch for a 3 run homer with no one on base. This is the norm these days, not the exception. But for Judge it’s whatever the team needs. The guy is the easy MVP choice.
The Undefeated Giants
Neither of the Giants two wins to start this season has been overly impressive, but that’s ok with me. The last four coaching regimes would have found ways to lose both. There’s a new energy around this team brought on mainly by a coaching staff with an air of competence. We Giants fans have forgotten what that’s like. As The Athletic pointed out, on the Giants’ key third down defensive play, they had a hodgepodge of castaways and greenhorns on the field, including two veterans just signed to the practice squad, a journeyman on his fifth team in seven seasons, a guy buried who barely saw the field under the last coaching staff, a rookie making his debut, and an undrafted rookie. Wow.
The play calling has been so much less predictable, with a bevy of formations and personnel and motion. On a key third and short they had three RBs in on the play and gave a tricky little inside handoff to Gary Brightwell who ran for 14 yards. On the game ending third down, instead of running it and forcing the Panthers to use their last timeout and then punting, as the last four coaches would have done, they put the ball in Danny’s hands on a rollout. The QB ran for a first down that ended the game without giving the Panthers a last chance with the ball.
Daboll hasn’t been scared to bench big name big money players. Toney barely got any looks in week one and Golloday barely played in week two. This was in favor of no names like James Richie, David Stills, and Tanner Hudson getting multiple targets. A big part of good coaching seems to be getting the most out of the skill sets of your players. Belichick is the master of this. The fact that the Giants are getting production out of a bunch of no names on both sides of the ball is encouraging.
Now again, it’s only been two weeks. And on the downside, Jones hasn’t exactly earned himself a seven year extension to this point. If the season continues like this, the Giants are going to be between The Rock and a Triple H about what to do with him next season. (Boom, WWE reference!) He’s starting to look like an above average NFL backup to me. So, they’ll be left in The Great Conundrum – they won’t be sold on him going forward, but they won’t be in great position to get a replacement either. But hey, maybe we finally have the people in place to figure it out.
The Giants being able to get that last first down and run out the clock seems even more important with all of the wild finishes and big collapses around the league on Sunday. But like Jenny Mendelbaum told me in the eleventh grade, you’ve gotta make sure to finish the job. Take note, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Vegas.
Anyway, things are looking up in Giantsland.
Mike Evans Suspension
Imagine if hockey players got suspended for what Mike Evans did? He pushed a guy. There would be so many suspensions, I might get six minutes a game on the Islanders fourth line. I guess it was the second time he trucked Lattimore. Man, he really hates that guy. Anyway, it’s almost hockey season.
Come back tomorrow for Angry Ward. Follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.