David White

Aaron Judge makes baseball fun again, even if he is wearing pinstripes

Aaron Judge is a favorite of fans from Yankee Stadium all the way to the central San Joaquin Valley.
Aaron Judge is a favorite of fans from Yankee Stadium all the way to the central San Joaquin Valley. Associated Press

This is killing us, Aaron Judge.

As long as pins have come in stripes, we have hated the New York Yankees, almost as much as we detest the Los Angeles Dodgers.

We loathe 27 World Series trophies, despise your obnoxious fan base, and have nothing but contempt for the surname Steinbrenner.

Are you really going to make us like the Yankees after all these years of disdain?

This has nothing to do with you being from Fresno State, and everything to do with you being the kind of player we loved when we were kids.

The gap-tooth smile. The orange freckles. The knee-high stirrups. And, oh, that swing for the fences.

We loved what you did for starters last season. Those rookie-record 52 souvenirs you parked in the bleachers were a kick. You repped our alma mater like nobody’s business. Sure, you got the Yankees back in the playoffs, but we weren’t too worried about the Evil Empire making a comeback.

Now look at you. You’ve got the Yankees tied for the most wins in baseball after a month and change. You just went 11-2 against the AL West-leading Angels, defending world champion Astros, AL Central-leading Indians and the co-AL East leading Red Sox.

You’re not just winning games. You’ve got us haters enjoying this ride.

When you guys brawled with the Red Sox last week, we were rooting for you to deliver a haymaker. When you played the Astros, we wanted you to delegate half their dejected roster back to Triple-A Fresno.

The last time we rooted for the Yankees was when Old Man Don Zimmer charged Boston’s Pedro Martinez, and that was only because Pedro used to be a Dodger.

With every wall-scaling catch, and diving outfield catch, and 10 home runs going into the weekend, you make baseball’s most disliked team likeable.

Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera made us respect last decade’s Yankees. But like? No.

Only you are pulling off that stunt.

We don’t care anymore about the time Roger Clemons chucked a splintered bat at Mike Piazza, and not just because Piazza used to be a Dodger. It doesn’t matter to us how chemically imbalanced Alex Rodriguez was for all those years.

That line-drive catch against Willie McCovey to beat the Giants in the ’62 Series? Well, that’s not forgiven, but it takes the edge off.

You play baseball the way we love it played. You hustle, you dive, you swing hard and hit even harder.

Best of all? You smile. When was the last time you saw a pro athlete smile without being a hot dog about it?

You stick up for your teammate Giancarlo Stanton when the Bronx Zoo boos him out of the park. You deflect praise to your teammates, and absorb criticism that doesn’t match your shirt size.

Sweet mother of Yogi Berra, we haven’t liked a Yankee this much since Yogi Berra.

Thanks for making baseball fun to watch, even when the Giants aren’t on TV.