INSIDE HOOK – Brand-new New York Yankees captain Aaron Judge seems to have picked up right where he left off last year.
The reigning MVP homered in his very first at-bat, then strung together six more hits and an OPS of 1.209 over baseball’s opening weekend.
Few around the game seem surprised that Judge is already this locked in at the plate.
He showed up to spring his typical hulking self, and after battling an injury bug at the beginning of his career, has found some consistency on the health front. (Of the Yankees’ last 334 games, he’s played 319.)
Still, Judge has expressed publicly that he wants to get better, a sentiment that has mystified sportswriters.
Sure, he can abandon his veteran plate discipline from time to time, and a championship obviously still eludes him. But how do you improve upon breaking the American League single-season home run record and missing the Triple Crown by .05 points in batting average?
In quiet and unconventional ways, it would appear, beyond the gaze of most media or fans or even Judge’s own teammates.
According to Judge’s recent interview with ESPN, the 6’7″ outfielder is a devoted student of the school of mental conditioning, investing as much energy towards his brain as he does his famous brawn.
Judge reads books like Ryan Holliday’s Stillness is the Key, Gary Mack’s Mind Gym and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. He plans to steal his wife’s copy of James Clears’ Atomic Habits soon.
He’s inspired by Kobe Bryant’s “Black Mamba” mentality, the idea that the second you step into the arena of play, you can assume a cutthroat, hyper-confident alter ego.
In order to become No. 99, Judge watches a specialized video before every single game, stitched together by the Yankees’ mental conditioning department …