Sunday was funday in terms of New York sports.
The Jets’ amazing comeback. The Giants going to 2-0 for the first time since (it seems) Y.A. Tittle was the quarterback. The Mets striking out 20 and sweeping the Pirates. And Aaron Judge hitting two home runs to get to within two of Roger Maris’ American League record of 61.
It was the first time the four teams had won on the same day since Sept. 27, 2009.
But this week is mostly going to be about one team: the Yankees. And not because they are closing in on the AL East title.
Because of Aaron Judge.
The Yankees have six home games starting Tuesday night, a two-game series against Pittsburgh and four against the Red Sox. Judge has 59 home runs.
Three more and he will have the highest total in AL history. AL history began in 1901.
If Judge gets to 62, there will be no supposed asterisk, as when Maris topped Babe Ruth with No. 61 in 1961. (There never was one, anyway.)
There will be no performance-enhancing drugs taint, as when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 and Barry Bonds in 2001 sent baseballs into the stratosphere with suspiciously bulging biceps (and, in Bonds' case, an oddly large head).
The record books were never the same, and the debate rages on. What is the true MLB home run record? Is it Bonds’ 73 or Maris’ 61?
Judge ruled last week and said Bonds has the record. That could lead to some awkward moments should Judge pass Maris with the Maris family in the stands at Yankee Stadium. Roger Maris Jr. told me Monday that he and his brother Kevin will be there on Tuesday, with other family members joining them on Wednesday.
Maris’ mark is plenty hard enough to reach, let alone Bonds’. Judge’s chase, as remarkable as it has been, has not yet dominated the local sports conversation the way it likely will this week.
Consider that the Jets’ victory in Cleveland was the lead story on all three New York tabloid back pages on Monday. Judge’s two home runs in Milwaukee were judged to be the second-most-important story of a truly super Sunday.
But with the Jets not playing until next Sunday and the Giants off until next Monday and the Mets still 10 days away from facing Atlanta to settle the NL East, this will be Judge Week.
When Maris hit No. 61 on Oct. 1, 1961, there were only 23,154 fans in the stands at Yankee Stadium.
This week, figure the big ballpark in the Bronx will be packed.
One fan who will be at Wednesday’s game is Park Slope, Brooklyn, freelance journalist Steve Viuker.
The longtime Yankees rooter and some friends snapped up tickets for Wednesday’s game in part because they thought it might lead to a special Judge moment.
Also, the tickets cost $5 each. With fees, the total was $6.44 per ticket.
“Just like ’61,” Viuker said in an email.
The television-watching experience will be more tricky.
Only three of the six games on this week’s homestand will be on YES. Michael Kay is no doubt polishing his “See Ya!” home run call with a special flourish should Judge catch and pass Maris.
But if it happens Thursday, Friday or Sunday, the games will be elsewhere.
Thursday’s game is a Fox exclusive. Friday’s will be shown only on the streaming service Apple TV+ (ugh). Sunday night is an ESPN game (double ugh) with Kay joining Alex Rodriguez for a “Kay-Rod” broadcast on ESPN2.
With all of the newfangled outlets spending millions (or billions) to televise or stream baseball, it’s been extremely frustrating all season for Yankees fans to find games on TV.
If Judge is sitting on 61 and the game is on a national TV outlet, at least Yankees fans can tune to WFAN and listen to John Sterling’s call.
You know what he’s going to say.
“It is high, it is far, it is gone!”
Even if it’s a line drive and isn’t high or all that far. No matter. As long as it’s gone.
The moment is what matters. Aaron Judge is poised to deliver one of the biggest moments we’ve seen around here in some time, in a late summer New York sports scene that suddenly has gotten very, very interesting.
All rise! And all eyes on No. 99.