Aaron Judge fires back at Blue Jays’ cheating allegations in ‘off-record words’
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TORONTO — During his previous visit to Rogers Center before this week, Aaron Judge commanded significant attention as he pursued and successfully achieved his 61st home run. In 2023, Aaron Judge has once again taken the spotlight, but for entirely contrasting motives.
The intense side gaze of the current AL MVP as he stepped up to bat in the eighth inning on Monday night, followed by his powerful 462-foot home run, grabbed the interest of the Blue Jays’ television broadcast. They later piqued the team’s clubhouse and an allegation arose that Aaron Judge was into foul play.
Aaron Judge was outraged
The suggestion was that Aaron Judge might have been quickly observing the Yankees’ dugout or first-base coach Travis Chapman in an attempt to decipher a late sign regarding the pitch type or location, which would be permissible under the rules as long as no technology was involved.
However, Aaron Judge was clearly displeased with how broadcasters Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez steered it into a controversy.
When questioned about the insinuation of cheating, Aaron Judge chose not to disclose his thoughts on the matter, opting to keep his response off the record. However, he let his performance on the field speak for itself, delivering a go-ahead home run in the Yankees’ 6-3 victory later that evening.
Expressing his discontent, Aaron Judge stated that he was particularly displeased with the accusation, especially considering the previous incidents of cheating in the game. However, he acknowledged that people have the freedom to form their own opinions and narratives. Judge emphasized that he remains focused on his game and responsibilities, highlighting that he had already shared his account of the situation.
“I got some choice words about that, but better just to keep that off the record,” Aaron Judge told.
“Especially with the things that have happened in this game with cheating stuff and to get that thrown out, I’m not happy about it. But people can say what they want. I still got a game to play, I got things I gotta do. I told you guys what happened and everybody else can make their own story about it.”
The incident quickly gained significant attention in a sport, which had a few incidents of electronic sign-stealing too. The Astros’ scheme during 2017-18 was particularly notorious.
Blue Jays out to torment Aaron Judge
The Blue Jays raised the matter with Major League Baseball, but the league’s investigation did not uncover any significant evidence of major rule violations during Monday’s game.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, it was anticipated that the Yankees would receive a reminder about the positioning of their coaches. However, during the early innings, there was still disagreement as both teams expressed their concerns about opposing coaches being located outside of the designated coach’s box.
According to Aaron Boone, the Yankees had communicated with MLB regarding the issue, but the manager did not expect any formal investigation to take place. Boone stated that nothing that occurred during Monday night’s game was in violation of the rules.
Aaron Judge explained on Monday night that he glanced at the Yankees’ dugout as he was displeased with his teammates continuously arguing with the home plate umpire, even after Manager Boone had been ejected earlier in his at-bat, in a game where they were leading 6-0.
Blue Jays manager John Schneider expressed amusement on Tuesday, stating that he found it ironic that Aaron Judge was concerned about his dugout while he was standing in the batter’s box.
Aaron Judge replied with another big performance on Tuesday night that assured the Yankees the series win.
On the other hand, the Blue Jays seemed to believe that the matter was related to the positioning of the Yankees’ base coaches, who were positioned outside the designated coaching box on the field.
Schneider stated that it was important to maintain fairness, and if their team was unintentionally revealing information, they needed to improve in that aspect. He expressed his belief that if observations were being made from individuals in unauthorized positions, that should be considered crossing the line.
Schneider pointed out that it was relatively simple to glance at a runner on second base while batting, but much more challenging to direct one’s attention towards the dugout. He suggested that it might be somewhat easier to observe a base coach instead. Schneider emphasized the presence of designated boxes on the field for specific purposes, and when someone is noticeably positioned outside of those designated areas, it becomes evident and raises suspicions.
But no room for allegation against Aaron Judge
Had the Yankees noticed a potential indication or signal in the eighth inning on Monday, whether related to pitcher Jay Jackson or catcher Alejandro Kirk and their positioning, it is improbable that they would openly acknowledge it, particularly when facing a division rival.
However, the possibility of signs being stolen was eliminated as both Jay Jackson and Alejandro Kirk utilized PitchCom throughout the entire inning. Kirk would press a button on the device, which would then transmit the signal to Jackson on the mound.
Schneider explained that the focus is on eliminating one side of the plate by observing the catcher’s positioning. He noted that many catchers, including their own, often set up late or start inside and then move out to deceive the location of the pitch.
Schneider mentioned that the gray area arises when a runner can see inside the pitcher’s glove, which he attributed to the pitcher’s responsibility. He emphasized that the bases and coaching boxes are designated for specific reasons, and as long as the team adheres to the rules, it is their responsibility to ensure fair play.
During the eighth inning on Monday, Jake Bauers, who bats left-handed, was also observed on the broadcast briefly turning his gaze towards his left side (possibly towards third-base coach Luis Rojas or the Blue Jays dugout) before one of the pitches he faced. However, this particular incident did not receive as much attention as the multiple glances made by Judge.
In addition, it should be noted that Jay Jackson consistently pitched Aaron Judge six consecutive sliders, with the final one ending up in the middle of the strike zone.
Aaron Judge stated that everything that needed to be said had been said the previous day. He expressed his confusion as to why it had become a story and mentioned that he understood why the broadcasters might want to make a big deal out of it, as they were free to say whatever they wanted.
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