ESPN Aaron Judge at-bat cut-in during Clemson-Wake

Wednesday night, our short, regional nightmare ended when Aaron Judge finally hit his 61st home run of the season to tie Roger Maris for the New York Yankees and American League single-season record.

The problem? It has now created a new short, regional nightmare that the rest of America has to grapple with. Judge’s 62nd home run, which *checks notes* still leaves him well short of the record for most home runs in a season.

While a notable and noble accomplishment in the world of Major League Baseball, the hype surrounding Judge’s home run chase, and the ways that many have been bending over backward to make sure America could witness it live, has created a lot of Sturm und Drang in the sports and sports media worlds.

The (frankly) embarrassing way that many people purposefully confused themselves and others over how Apple TV+ works last week was positioned as a desire for America to witness this “miracle,” but was truly just New Yorkers being annoyed that the home run might not happen on their terms. If they couldn’t watch the game on YES Network and they couldn’t listen to Michael Kay make the call, the world needed to burn.

We all survived the horrors of a Yankees-Red Sox game being broadcast for free on a streaming service. But things seemingly came to a head on Saturday when ESPN decided to continuously interrupt the Clemson-Wake Forest college football game with cut-ins to every Judge at-bat. That didn’t make a lot of sense for a multitude of reasons, including:

  1. Judge’s potential home run would not tie or break the MLB record.
  2. People choosing to watch college football are doing so for a reason.
  3. It stands to reason the Venn Diagram of Clemson-Wake viewers who care about a potential Yankees home run is ineffective.

For some, the decision made sense because Judge’s potential 61st home run felt significant. For many others, however, it felt like the media hype over Judge’s home run chase created a false sense of history that didn’t warrant such coverage, especially at the expense of the sporting event they actually tuned in to watch.

Curiously, ESPN did not do cut-ins of Aaron Judge’s at-bats during Monday Night Football, even though the audience for that game (New York Giants fans and front-running Dallas Cowboys fans) might actually be interested. The logic behind when to show Aaron Judge and when not to show Aaron Judge seemed to defy common sense. Perhaps ESPN had realized that football fans would simply rather watch football than a Yankees slugger tie a team record.

Apparently not. Per Andrew Marchand, who has been cheerleading the cause of making Judge at-bats available to every human being on the planet for weeks now, ESPN will be doing cut-ins all weekend long.

So if you’re excited to watch one of the early college football games on the ESPN networks this weekend, such as Kentucky vs. Ole Miss, Purdue vs. Minnesota, Northwestern vs. Penn State, or Iowa State vs. Kansas, get ready to see a whole lot of Aaron Judge for some reason.

Perhaps ESPN has some kind of data to tell them this is what sports fans want. But judging by the initial reaction, it sure seems like many college football fans would just much rather watch their college football, thank you very much.

There’s a larger, more interesting conversation driving what’s happening around Judge’s home run chase. That, for many baseball purists, wherever he lands this season, that will be the “real” home run mark, not the ones set by “evil cheaters” Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa. Judge’s quest has a nobility to it that makes it matter beyond him just breaking a team record, it seems.

On the flip side, however, is a larger contingent of sports fans who point to the actual MLB record books to prove that Judge’s home run chase, while impressive, is not worthy of the treatment it’s receiving. He’s not breaking league records. He’s not making history. And if they wanted to watch Judge blast another dinger, they’d just tune in using the ample options available to them to do so. So there’s no reason to interrupt their college football experience with it.

Clearly, ESPN either doesn’t care. Or truly believes that you do. Either way, like so much sports media out of New York City, you’re getting lots of it whether you want it or not.

[Andrew Marchand]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to