Blue Jays’ foul play allegation potentially aims at distracting Aaron Judge
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TORONTO — Following the Yankees’ victory over the Blue Jays on Monday night, there was a commotion caused by Aaron Judge glancing to his dugout side. When it was captured on camera during his at-bat, the Blue Jays found it peculiar, while the Yankees downplayed it as insignificant.
Prior to crushing a 114.9 mph line drive against Blue Jays pitcher Jay Jackson, Aaron Judge briefly glanced sideways. The Blue Jays broadcast team observed this and speculated that Judge was seeking a signal from his own dugout. However, Aaron Judge clarified that he was actually trying to identify which of his Yankees teammates was shouting at home plate umpire Clint Vondrak. Shortly after his side glance, Aaron Judge smashed a towering 462-foot home run in Toronto.
On Monday, Aaron Judge achieved a significant milestone by smashing two solo home runs, bringing his season total to nine and ten. This marked his third game this year with multiple home runs and his 30th such game throughout his career. Notably, Aaron Judge has hit 30 home runs against the Toronto Blue Jays, making it his second-highest tally against any team, surpassed only by his 35 home runs against the Baltimore Orioles.
After Aaron Judge launched a colossal 462-foot home run to center field off Jay Jackson, a reliever for the Toronto Blue Jays, the live commentary triggered a flurry of intense speculation and discussion online. The mammoth blast extended the Yankees’ lead to 7-0.
Who did accuse Aaron Judge of cheating?
The focal point of attention and controversy during Aaron Judge’s fifth plate appearance for the Yankees was his impressive 462-foot home run, marking his second of the game, against Blue Jays reliever Jay Jackson. However, prior to his powerful swing, the former AL MVP seemed to be visibly distracted by something, adding to the intrigue surrounding the moment.
During the eighth inning of the Yankees’ 7-4 victory against the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre, television cameras from Sportsnet captured Aaron Judge, the current American League MVP, casting a glance toward the Yankees’ dugout before his at-bat. Subsequently, Aaron Judge delivered a home run off Toronto reliever Jay Jackson on a 3-2 slider, extending New York’s lead to 7-0.
The observation of this particular sequence was initially made by Sportsnet during their broadcast, with speculation arising that the Yankees’ bench may have communicated signs or pitch location to Aaron Judge. Another possibility raised was that Jackson may have been unintentionally revealing his pitches during the eighth inning.
Regardless of the circumstances, Aaron Judge connected with Jackson’s pitch with full force, launching his longest home run of the season and matching the eighth-longest home run of his career.
The Blue Jays’ TV broadcast crew caught Aaron Judge glancing toward his dugout during his at-bat. According to Sportsnet commentators Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez, he did it multiple times, and they were uncertain about what he was trying to see.
“What is that?” said Shulman.
“Where’s he looking?” said Martinez.
With Major League Baseball cracking down on sign-stealing, people in baseball are more attentive than ever to any actions that could be construed as players attempting to gain an advantage. Shulman suggested that Aaron Judge could have been trying to catch a glimpse of Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk to predict what pitch was coming, but Martinez didn’t think that was possible as Judge didn’t move his head and didn’t seem to be looking downward.
The Blue Jays commentators did not offer any theories as to what Aaron Judge may have been looking at, but the aftermath of the Houston Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal has made the baseball community more sensitive to any behavior that could be perceived as cheating. Therefore, it’s easy to infer from the footage that Judge may have been seeking signals from his dugout about what pitches to expect, given the implication of the Astros’ past actions.
The Blue Jays’ version
Blue Jays manager John Schneider was asked after the game if he had seen the footage of Aaron Judge and if he had any comments on it. He confirmed that he had seen it and found it unusual for a batter to look in that direction. He added that it was the first time they had observed Aaron Judge doing that.
Schneider acknowledged that he saw the footage of Aaron Judge and found it strange that a hitter would be looking in that direction. He also stated that they would investigate the matter further to ensure that they were not vulnerable to tendencies or pitches. He added that it was odd to see Judge looking over at the dugout right before a pitch came and they would look into it that night and the next day.
When asked about Aaron Judge’s behavior during an at-bat, John Schneider was questioned if there was a logical reason why the Yankees player was looking in a certain direction.
He stated that he was not as good a hitter as Aaron Judge and never was, but added that the Yankees slugger must have had a reason for looking somewhere other than the pitcher during his at-bat and suggested that he be asked about it.
After the game, Jackson told Hazel Mae from Sportsnet that he had not seen hitters look that way before during his career, so he was unable to determine what Judge was doing. He also said they would have a different game plan the next time they faced the Yankees.
The Yankees’ version
Initially, when Aaron Judge was questioned about the incident, he appeared to be unaware of what the reporter was referring to.
“For when?” Judge said.
After being asked again about the incident, Aaron Judge chuckled and explained that his teammates were still yelling at the plate umpire who had ejected their manager during his at-bat. He said he was just looking at the dugout to see which players were still talking so that he could hit in peace.
According to a clip posted on Twitter by the YES Network, Aaron Judge explained that there was a lot of talking from their dugout, which he didn’t appreciate in a situation where they were leading 6-0 and manager Aaron Boone had been ejected. He called a timeout to save Boone and told his teammates to hold up, so he could focus. He was trying to see who was talking in the dugout, and his intention was to let them know it was time to get back to work.
During his at-bat, Aaron Judge stated that his teammates were still expressing their dissatisfaction about Boone’s ejection.
Aaron Judge stated that he believed that after the manager’s ejection, the team should focus on making pitches and maintaining their lead. He added that he had spoken to some players in the dugout about it and hoped that it would not happen again.
Boone expressed that he comprehended Aaron Judge’s annoyance with the disturbance from the dugout. He admitted that Aaron Judge was looking over and indicating that he was ready to hit at that moment.
Was it weird?
It was appropriate for Martinez and Shulman to bring attention to Aaron Judge’s behavior, as it falls within the scope of their responsibilities as broadcasters. Given the recent sign-stealing scandals, it’s difficult for any player to avoid scrutiny or receive the benefit of the doubt. Moreover, Aaron Judge’s case was not helped by the fact that he hit a massive 462-foot home run shortly after glancing over at his team’s dugout.
Toronto has every reason to be suspicious and provoke their division rivals, the Yankees. The Yankees, on the other hand, refused to see anything suspicious.
Suppose Aaron Judge was indeed trying to look for a signal, it may not necessarily be against the rules. It’s possible that the Yankees had found out how the pitcher was tipping his pitches and used a signal to communicate that information to Aaron Judge during the at-bat. However, the Yankees’ explanation seems more plausible when you consider the entire game as a whole.
Bredon Kuty of The Athletics suggests that in order to determine the validity of the Yankees’ explanation, it would be important to know if other players on the team were also looking toward the dugout during the game. Specifically, Kuty wonders if Gleyber Torres or Anthony Volpe might have been doing so. Since Sportsnet did not report on any other players looking towards the dugout, it is unclear if this was a widespread practice among the team. Kuty also notes that if the Yankees had indeed figured out how Jackson was tipping his pitches and were using signals to relay that information, they would likely have shared this information with the rest of the team.
After the game, Aaron Judge was asked about his last at-bat. He denied that it had anything to do with sign stealing but instead said that he was trying to figure out which of his teammates was arguing were cripping at the umpire following the ejection of Yankees manager Aaron Boone earlier in the same inning.
The Blue Jays are planning to conduct an investigation into the incident to find out what happened before Judge’s home run. According to them, the events seemed too suspicious.
There is ample reasonable scope to conclude that the Blue Jays are trying to distract or throttle Aaron Judge, who is red hot after returning from injury. His behavior demonstrates the type of leadership one would anticipate from a captain and cornerstone player of the Yankees. He continued to exhibit his leadership skills beyond his at-bat.
Judge said that he had spoken to a few guys in the dugout and also after the game, expressing hope that such a situation would not arise again. Suddenly, the potential scandal that some Yankee’s detractors were hoping for (Judge stealing signs!) quickly became irrelevant.
So what was it? Conspiracy theorists may be disappointed by the simplicity of Aaron Judge’s explanation.
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