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Jock Blog: Judge, Yankees Oracle Park arrival reminds Giants fans what could have been



Regret is a helluva concept. It can weigh one down, fill one with rue.

And who wants to be filled with rue?

In a related note, Aaron Judge comes to town with the New York Yankees tonight.

So where were you in December, 2022 — when the name “Arson Judge” carved itself into Bay Area sports infamy?

If Judge flirting with the Giants so heavily that Jon Heyman tweeted that Arson himself was coming to San Francisco isn’t one of your biggest recent local sports regrets, you are remarkably mentally healthy — as I was just saying to an unblocked Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs.

And now he trods on to the Oracle Park grass and takes his spot in center field, wearing Yankee road grays, not Giants home creams — or orange, or black, or City Connect white, or whatever the hell they’re wearing on any given day.

Will Aaron Judge feel any regrets? Will he even stop to pet the Rally Pelican?

One feels fairly certain Judge does not regret staying in the Big Apple. He’s a New York Yankee after all. He plays in Yankee Stadium. As much as we love our home team, there is no Joe DiMaggio quote in the dugout tunnel reading: “I want to thank the good Lord for making me an analytically-based, 29-28 Giant.”

And when Kevin Costner’s Crash Davis gives his epic pool hall speech in “Bull Durham” about “one more ground ball with eyes, one more dying quail a week” — said ground ball and said quail lands the protagonist in mythical Yankee Stadium, to fulfill my generationally-dated Jock Blog pop culture reference quota.

It’s a potent thing, the pinstripes.

For Farhan Zaidi and the Giants, though, the regret is real.

Yes, we’ve mostly moved on. You have to. “Next pitch”, as my on-air partner likes to say about life. (We won’t mention how the ‘next pitch’ was Carlos Correa. Move along. Next pitch.)

But oh, what might have been had Judge said “yes” to finishing his career in the vast expanses of what is literally and statistically the least homer-friendly ballpark in the big leagues in 2024. (And always bottom-five, no matter the year.)

The Giants offered Judge nine years, $360 million — or what Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter might call “NFL Week Nine” petty cash. Seriously, $40 million per looks like a screaming bargain, giving Shohei’s $70 million annual average value, or even Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer’s $43 million AAV or Jacob de Grom’s $40 million AAV or — sorry Angels fans — Anthony Rendon’s $38.5 million AAV.

And what would the Giants have gotten in return? I did some rough back of the envelope math, since Judge re-signed with the Yankees in 2023 until tonight. I had to combine various forms of Thairo Estrada, Wilmer Flores, JD Davis, LaMonte Wade, Jr and Matt Chapman to come up with the Frankenstein Monster of Giants who would match Judge:

— Aaron Judge: 55 home runs, 126 RBIs, 1.020 OPS, 7.6 WAR.

— Frankenstein Combined Giants Leaders: 31 home runs, 100 RBIs, 879 OPS, 3.9 WAR.


So yes, there is real regret seeing Judge in San Francisco tonight. Shocker.

The real question is: How are you handling it, as a Giants fan?

Your choices boil down to embracing Luis Matos in center field in 2024 and Jung Hoo Lee in 2025 and beyond, not looking back and pretending it all never happened.

Or, when you see Judge trot out to center field tonight, you can stand silently and let a lone tear roll down your cheek.

Oh, what might have been.

Next pitch, sports fans.