Aaron Judge on MLB’s Proposed Playoff Bubble: ‘I’m Not a Fan of It’

Jesse Pantuosco
August 26, 2020 - 12:24 pm

Seeing the success of the NBA and NHL’s “bubble” configurations, MLB is considering holding its postseason in a similar environment to ensure players’ safety by restricting travel amid the COVID pandemic. Former MVP runner-up Aaron Judge, who is slated to return to the Yankees’ lineup Wednesday after a calf injury had him out of commission for the past two weeks, isn’t on board with what’s been proposed, arguing that contesting playoff games at a neutral site would be unfair to teams that worked hard to secure home-field advantage during the regular season.

“This whole process takes away from the point of winning,” Judge expressed to the media earlier this week. “We bust our butt all season to have a good record to get home-field advantage and play in our home park and play in front of our home fans. And if you’re telling me that you can win all these games and get the first seed or get the second seed, but now you’re going to be playing in a neutral site, playing in Dallas, playing in L.A., playing somewhere else. It’s not much of an advantage. I’m not a fan of it.”

Judge’s reaction is understandable, especially considering the high-powered Yankees look like a good bet to claim home-field advantage in the American League. All of us are resistant to change on some level. I’ll admit, I had my doubts when I first heard of the NBA’s plan to occupy Disney World for the remainder of 2020. But nearly two months into the league’s grand experiment, there’s no denying the bubble’s effectiveness. While MLB has struggled with near-constant chaos stemming from lax following of protocols, false positives and every other COVID complication you could possibly imagine, it’s been relatively smooth sailing for the NBA (Lemon Pepper Lou’s extracurriculars notwithstanding).

Though an MLB bubble may be harder to pull off logistically—accommodating rosters of that size would be much higher maintenance than the relative light lift of housing NBA players in Orlando—it still makes more practical sense than the alternative which, to this point, has not worked particularly well. But here’s where the slugger’s argument really collapses—what is this home-field advantage Judge speaks of? Sure, teams are traveling to each other’s home parks, but without spectators, does such an “advantage” really exist? No amount of piped-in crowd noise and affable cardboard cutouts can offset the absence of living, breathing fans.

It’s not ideal, but these are the cards 2020 has dealt us. Judge can hoot and holler all he wants about what’s fair, but regardless of whether games are held in the Bronx, Los Angeles or Timbuktu, without fans, home-field advantage is like Dwight Schrute’s role as Dunder Mifflin’s assistant (to the) regional manager—a fancy title that doesn’t mean much.

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