Yankees’ Aaron Judge ejected for first time in career: ‘I’ve said a lot worse’

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NEW YORK — Before Saturday, Aaron Judge had never been ejected in his life. Never in his nine-year MLB career. Never in his three seasons spent in the minor leagues. Never in his three years at Fresno State. Never in his four years at Linden High School. And never in Little League. But eight words while walking away from home-plate umpire Ryan Blakney was all it took for Judge to get tossed.

“Nah, that’s bulls—,” Judge said, according to audio captured by on-field microphones. “You’ve been bullshitting all game.”

Judge had his back turned to Blakney, but it didn’t matter. Blakney felt Judge’s words were enough to toss the Yankees’ captain. Judge said he didn’t know he was ejected until he heard the Yankee Stadium crowd roar in his defense.

“You’re not going to tell me I’ve been bulls—ing all game,” Blakney said to Judge, according to YES Network’s audio.

“I was very surprised,” Judge said, “(It’s) a 5-3 game, late in the game, battling through the count and kind of walking away saying my piece. I’ve said a lot worse. I usually try to not make a scene in situations like that, so I was a little surprised walking away that happened.”

Judge is the first Yankees captain to get ejected since Don Mattingly on May 13, 1994. After the game, a pool reporter requested to speak with Blakney to understand what transpired between him and Judge, but he was made unavailable for comment. Instead, crew chief Alan Porter, Saturday’s third-base umpire, spoke with the reporter. When Porter spoke to the reporter, he said he hadn’t conversed with Blakney.

“Apparently, Aaron did not agree with the pitch and said something that you shouldn’t have said and he was ejected,” Porter said. “We do what we can to keep guys in the game but he said something he shouldn’t have said.”

Before his seventh-inning ejection, Judge said he hadn’t complained to Blakney regarding his strike zone. He did say that there were a couple of calls early in the game, particularly to Gleyber Torres, that he did not agree with.

Clarke Schmidt, the Yankees’ starting pitcher in Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Detroit Tigers, said Blakney’s strike zone was “a little bit all over the place,” but he joked that “it wasn’t too bad for me; I came away with no walks.” YES Network’s cameras caught Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo screaming, “That’s the softest s— I’ve ever seen,” after Judge’s ejection.

“It’s Aaron Judge,” Rizzo said. “He has a very good reputation. It’s not like he was showing him up. He was obviously disappointed in the call but I don’t think he was showing up the umpire. I thought it was very quick.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he was surprised with how quickly Judge got the boot and said he “didn’t think it was warranted.” It’s remarkable that Judge hadn’t been tossed since becoming a big leaguer because he’d seen 586 incorrectly called strikes against him — the fourth-most of any player in that span.

“Usually, I end up trying to take up those situations when I can,” Boone said in regards to sticking up for Judge. “Aaron will occasionally say his little piece but he doesn’t ever get overly confrontational, and I didn’t think he did today either. That’s why I was a little surprised.”

This is now the second controversial Yankees ejection in the past two weeks. Home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt ejected Boone because Wendelstedt thought the manager was barking from the dugout when a fan complained about the strike zone. Rizzo said there would be better understanding between teams and umpires if both sides had the same idea of what the strike zone actually is because he feels like both parties don’t agree on what is and isn’t a strike.

“We have all of this stuff that they’re testing in the minor leagues … but they won’t let the players and umpires get in sync with what the strike zone is,” Rizzo said. “They have a completely different system than what we see. They think we’re crazy sometimes. We think they’re crazy. We all agree that if we could see the same sheet of music, that would be beneficial for all of us.

“I think the umpires do their best. I have a lot of sympathy and empathy for them. They don’t have a home. They’re on the road for six, eight, 12 weeks at a time with maybe a couple of days off in between. I think they are all really good at what they do. They have a completely different strike zone than what our eyes are accustomed to, so when we complain and they say they got it right and we say they’re wrong, you’re fighting a dead battle because they’re right and we’re wrong. Their zone is a different sheet of music.”

(Photo of home-plate umpire Ryan Blakney ejecting Aaron Judge: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

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