For the second Saturday in a row, ESPN interrupted its college football broadcast to bring viewers live look-ins at Aaron Judge, showing each of his five plate appearances against Baltimore. ESPN’s decision to employ a split-screen format in anticipation of Judge’s record 62nd home run was not well-received, with football fans resentful of sharing the spotlight with baseball. Even ABC announcer Sean McDonough didn’t seem particularly enthused by the prospect of ceding the floor, if only for a few minutes, to Michael Kay, giving a sarcastic response when told of inclement weather at Yankee Stadium, delaying first pitch by about a half hour.
“What a shame,” McDonough quipped, clearly fatigued by weeks of wall-to-wall coverage with only one home run in 10 games to show for it. The network’s heavy-handed approach in chronicling Judge’s every move, force-feeding the slugger on an unwilling college football audience, has elicited strong opinions with many accusing ESPN of displaying a noticeable New York bias, which, if true (president Jimmy Pitaro has never shied away from his Yankees fandom), would be a surprising breech of journalistic integrity from a company that prides itself on being objective.
Others have debated whether Judge’s record should be celebrated as a significant milestone, scoffing at the notion his accomplishment is in any way comparable to what Barry Bonds achieved (albeit with chemical enhancement) during his historic 2001. Thankfully for fans who are tired of having their college football Saturdays hijacked by Judge, the saga is almost over with only five games remaining on the Yankees’ regular season schedule.