Yanks Slugger Aaron Judge a “Paul Bunyan Type Figure” Says Adnan Virk

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It took 30 years but the Major League Baseball rookie season home run record was finally smashed by the New York Yankees Aaron Judge. It’s pretty amazing that the benchmark lasted three decades when you consider that it survived the steroid era.

Judge socked 52 homers, eclipsing the mark set by Mark McGwire, the man whose 1999 appearance on The Simpsons perfectly embodies what the Yanks youngster might just mean to MLB.

It’s true- home runs, slams, dongs, dingers, taters, whatever you want to call them, it’s what puts people in the seats. It’s the most marketable, universally appealing aspect of the game of baseball, and it takes on another level when it’s a BIG guy doing the SOCKING!

Some people root for pitchers, and others root for the little and/or average and often fundamentally sound, well disciplined guy, but it’s the over sized man who usually gets the most eyeballs, and therefore fans.

Aaron Judge is 6’7″, 282 pounds so he’s the perfect candidate to become MLB’s next big thing, proverbially and literally. The very large gentleman went yard in his first postseason appearance, the play-in game victory over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night.

Judge hit .284 with 52 home runs, 114 RBIs with an OPS of 1.049 in 2017. While those numbers are certainly very impressive on their own, the Bronx Bomber of all current Bronx Bombers possesses the perfect set of traits, within an ideal set of circumstances to become baseball’s next biggest and brightest star. The timing is there too, as MLB is currently in need of bigger and better individual star personas.

Adnan Virk wears many hats in his role at ESPN, one of which was host of Baseball Tonight. Virk was gracious enough to join us on The TSB Show, and Aaron Judge was one of the many topics we covered.

“He’s gigantic. Sometimes you just need a Paul Bunyan type figure who transcends the sport,” said Virk who pointed out how Judge had the best selling rookie jersey of all time, and ranks behind only Chicago Cubs superstars Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant in jersey sales.

“Here’s the biggest thing- the reason Derek Jeter became someone non-baseball fans knew is because every October the Yankees were in the playoffs inevitably going deep, winning four or five World Series.”

aaron judge

“So then it’s easier to pop him on SNL when he’s dating all these beautiful women, when he’s in commercials, everyone knows Derek Jeter.”

“Mike Trout is  a brilliant player, but the Angels are never in the payoffs and they’re the second most popular team in their own region, so there’s no way Trout can become Jeter. He likes to go hunting and fishing and that’s about it, like Jeter, he’s a pretty vanilla guy.”

“Whereas Judge plays in a major media market, where a lot of people pay attention and he has this titanic presence, he has all the barometers to be that face (of MLB in general).”

“People love home runs, big guys hitting home runs, people either love or hate the Yankees, so if he can sustain whet he did this year, then he can no doubt help fill that void of star power which I think is one of the biggest challenges baseball faces, the sport has become too regionalized, you got to have people that transcend it,” Virk continued.

adnan virk espn baseball tonight

“The Ruthian blasts of Aaron Judge that’s what’s going to get attention.”

One factor working in the favor of Judge is something that he fell into- his jersey number #99. High numbers are given out in spring training to players who are not expected to make the final cut, and it’s perfect for Aaron Judge and his always maintaining a chip on his shoulder, never becoming complacent mindset (He keeps his abysmal 2016 batting average as a note on his phone for added motivation).

The number 99 also evokes a NFL Defensive End, Judge is coincidentally built like one, and Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn from the 1988 film major League. Both of those aspects certainly help jersey sales, which will further amplify his profile.

You can hear the entire podcast with Adnan Virk below:

Follow Virk on Twitter @AdnanESPN

Aaron Judge and the Yankees begin their ALDS in Cleveland tonight.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now and Minute Media. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube

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