Maybe it’s the nature of every team to be suspicious — and Toronto Blue Jays fans are no different.
Case in point; Aaron Judge’s solo home run in the eighth inning of the Blue Jays’ eventual 7-4 loss at the hands of the New York Yankees.
Perhaps it’s the memory of the Houston Astros’ trashcan banging scandal fresh in people’s minds — but it’s natural for baseball fans to be skeptical when things like this occur on the diamond.
By that point, the game was already well out of hand. Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone was ejected for arguing balls and strikes, and Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah was long gone. But this particular at bat unearthed an interesting tendency by right fielder Aaron Judge.
Just before some pitches, the TV broadcast saw Judge on-camera glancing off to the side. Was he looking at his first base coach? Was he looking into the Yankees dugout? Or was he trying to catch a glimpse to see if the catcher was in his peripheral vision?
It immediately drew suspicion from Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez on the Sportsnet broadcast.
“You and I looked at each other at the same moment right when we saw this,” Shulman said.
“Watch what he’s looking at… Where’s he looking?” Martinez asked.
“It’s really really unusual.”
Aaron Judge hits a home run as the Blue Jays broadcasters wonder why he keeps glancing toward the dugout pic.twitter.com/ZrOY7grbYV
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) May 16, 2023
The timing of Judge’s look was curious as he followed it up by hitting a mammoth home run into the second deck at Rogers Centre. He knew a slider was coming, but Blue Jays reliever Jay Jackson threw nothing but sliders in his at bat to Judge.
Jackson hung an 84 MPH slider over the heart of the plate, which made it look like a batting practice fastball in the eyes of Judge. The Blue Jays were guilty of making a bad pitch in a slugger’s happy zone.
Even if Judge were getting signs from first base or the dugout, there’s nothing illegal about that per se. Relaying signs in baseball is a tale as old as time. The issue is signs can’t be relayed by external means, a la the Astros trashcan banging method.
Kirk is also a little guilty of setting up outside of the plate well before the pitcher delivered to the mound. When Kirk shuffles over, it’s possible Judge may have caught that movement out of the corner of his eye.
Judge was asked post game about the incident and his explanation was he was trying to catch a glimpse of which of his teammates was causing a commotion in the visitor’s dugout.
Aaron Judge says he was looking toward the Yankees dugout because he didn't like how much his teammates were chirping the umpire with a 6-0 lead
"I said a couple things to some guys in the dugout and especially after the game. Hopefully it won't happen again." pic.twitter.com/rMJ05Ilp0r
— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) May 16, 2023
The Blue Jays weren’t exactly buying it. Both manager John Schneider and reliever Jackson felt something fishy was going on with the Yankees.
Jay Jackson on Aaron Judge video:
"I haven't seen hitters do that before (in my experience), so I can't say what he was doing.. we'll see what plays out from this. Next time we'll have a different game plan."
"If he knew it was coming, I'm glad he didn't miss it"
— Hazel Mae (@thehazelmae) May 16, 2023
At first blush, this is all above the board, but it’s easy to see why some fans raised an eyebrow when Judge hit a home run immediately looking over to the side.