Aaron Judge ‘may be the next coming of Derek Jeter’
Ever since the retirement of Derek Jeter in 2014, the search has been on for the next Face of Baseball. Last Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Miami was something of a coming-out party for a New York Yankees rookie, 25-year-old Aaron Judge. He won the Home Run Derby, with one of his shots going 513 feet – not an aberration for the 6-foot-7, 282-pound right fielder. Washington’s Bryce Harper, one who’s been touted as Next Face, points to Judge: “He’s much-watch TV. You turn on the TV and you see him play, and you think, ‘Man, he’s gonna hit a home run about nine miles right now.” Tampa’s All-Star pitcher, Chris Archer, said Judge “may be the next coming of Derek Jeter.” He told USA Today: “First of all, he plays in New York. Second, he’s a presence. He’s doing it on the biggest possible stage. And he’s a good person, you can tell.”
Between the Lines: Jeter was radiant, a beacon to reporters even though he rarely offered insight. Judge is cooperative, but so far has not been a “presence” off the field. Not that he’s getting much help from the passive MLB Marketing Department.
Pablo Sandoval eats himself out of baseball
The Boston Red Sox gave up on 30-year-old Pablo Sandoval, deciding to eat $48 million of his salary as they designated him for assignment. The Panda signed a 5-year, $95 million contract as a free agent with Boston after a heroic World Series for San Francisco in which he hit .366. He also played a nifty third base despite a hulking body. But he arrived at training camp for the Red Sox heavier than ever – upwards of 270 pounds on a 5-11 frame. He proceeded to hit .245 with 10 home runs in 2015. Last year he showed up more fit than fat but was injured most of the season. He has played in only 161 games in his 2 ½ seasons in Boston. A case of being fat and happy, it was said. He was no David Ortiz, who could carry weight like a sumo wrestler.
Between the Lines: The Giants are considering taking Sandoval back. They can sign him for the major-league minimum wage, at which he might be a bargain.
Manziel speaking to NFL teams, planning a comeback
Johnny Manziel, former first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns who missed all of last season because of substance abuse and domestic violence issues, claims he’s now committed to sobriety and is eyeing a comeback. Attending the National Fantasy Football Convention in Dallas, he said he’s met with two NFL teams (New Orleans Saints being one of them) about a possible return to pro football. “I know the situation I put myself in,” Manziel told the Dallas Morning News. “I know the year I took off and the mistakes I made. Right now I’m hopeful, really hopeful. I think I made some progress in that regard. But we’ll see. Whenever I get a call, I’ll do whatever I can to make the most of it.”
Dear Johnny: We haven’t heard what you’re doing to improve your passing. You completed 57% for the Browns. Are you practicing football anywhere?
Kenseth booted off Gibbs team after revealing plan to leave in 2018
Joe Gibbs had planned to replace veteran NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth at the end of the season in November. But Kenseth, 45 and winless in 19 races this year, revealed two weeks ago at the Kentucky Speedway that he would not be with JGR in 2018. So Gibbs felt there was no point in delaying the move. “We didn’t want to do this,” Gibbs said. “It wasn’t the right timing for us. It’s just that a lot of things played into it, and we had to make a decision.” Erik Jones, 21-year-old rookie, will replace Kenseth in the No. 20 Toyota. Gibbs likes the progress Jones has made in the Toyota driver development program.
Hamlin turns away from Loudon the Lobster after his NASCAR win
The trophy for winning the Overton’s 301 NASCAR race at Loudon, New Hampshire, is a very large live lobster named Loudon. After he won Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speeday, Denny Hamlin was not eager to take possession of the prize. He grimaced when he touched the lobster in victory lane. “I’ve seen it and touched it for the last time,” Hamlin said. “I have lobster phobia. I cannot eat dinner if someone beside me is eating lobster.”