You're going to pay attention when the Yankees come to your city next season. You're going to want to get a look at these two larger-than-life characters. You'll stop what you're doing when they come to bat.That's because one of these two guys -- Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton --
You're going to pay attention when the Yankees come to your city next season. You're going to want to get a look at these two larger-than-life characters. You'll stop what you're doing when they come to bat.
That's because one of these two guys -- Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton -- just may do something you'll remember forever. And it's going to be that way all over the country in 2018 as the Yankees take the biggest, baddest, strongest show on the road.
They will fill ballparks. Some will boo them. Some will cheer wildly for them. No one will ignore them.
Brace yourself for the show that will have home runs disappearing into the night, that will have baseballs hit as hard as almost anyone has ever hit them.
This is a good thing. Good for baseball. Good for fans.
The Yankees did not set out to add Stanton to their team. This was to be a relatively normal offseason -- if the Yankees have any such thing -- with a search for pitching and a third baseman.
Instead, an opportunity presented itself.
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman did what the best of the best do.
They made a pivot and went hard for Stanton. While the Yankees didn't exactly need more home runs -- they led the majors with 241 in 2017 -- they knew the slugger would make them better and that Judge and Stanton together would be great theater.
The Yankees knew -- and this is important -- that Stanton would make them more entertaining, that he would add a wow factor to a franchise that has always understood that part of the deal.
This may not exactly be the Beatles touring America, but there's going to be an extra buzz whenever they roll into your town -- and with Stanton and Judge you're going to see a lot more people at batting practice than usual.
Remember when the Yankees were rebuilding? What was that, a year ago? Isn't it funny how time slips away?
If this was a reconstruction, it was the fastest in history. Judge became an extraordinarily compelling figure in his first full season.
He hit home runs that caused jaws to drop and was the American League Rookie of the Year. He was also a soft-spoken, humble 25-year-old who seemed right out of central casting.
Judge always said the right thing, deflecting praise, accepting blame, refusing to talk much about himself other than how his 52 home runs impacted the Yankees.
"It's about the team," Judge said, probably a thousand times.
Here's what Steinbrenner and Cashman understood: This was the kind of opportunity that simply does not present itself very often in the life of a franchise.
They saw this as a potentially seminal moment to transform the Yankees into something more. In the end, that's what this week's trade for Stanton represents.
Your blood may have boiled when you saw Stanton in pinstripes this week. Or you may have broken into a grin stretching here to Opening Day. Just when you thought you couldn't dislike the Yankees more than you already did. Or love them. Or whatever.
The Yankees do that sort of thing to people. Love them, hate them, can't ignore them. When they show up at your ballpark, you will show up. Your kid may already have checked the schedule.
The Yankees missed their 41st World Series by one game last season, and they were going to be good again in 2018. Stanton will make them better, sure. Perhaps more important, he will make them even more relevant in the hearts and minds of baseball fans (if that's possible).
To put a 6-foot-6, 245-pound outfielder (Stanton) beside a 6-foot-7, 282-pound outfielder (Judge) is to captivate and entertain.
Cashman is still shopping for starting pitching, which he still needs in order to finish his offseason work. But nothing he does is going to strike a chord with baseball fans around the world like the Stanton trade.
Stanton is 28 years old and coming off a season in which he hit 59 home runs, tied for the ninth-most in Major League history. Here's what having Judge and Stanton together will mean in terms of entertaining value:
• Stanton's 122.2-mph base hit was the hardest-hit ball in the Majors this season, and the hardest-hit smash since Statcast™ tracking began in 2015. Judge had the second-hardest-hit ball in '17, at 121.1 mph.
• Judge's 95.3-mph average exit velocity was the highest in the majors. Stanton was seventh at 93.0 mph.
• Judge had the longest home run this season (495 feet). Stanton was 13th with a 477-footer.
This lineup -- again, a lineup that was second in the majors in runs in 2017 -- will be shock-and-awe good. Stanton and Judge can change games in an instant. At a time when offenses are built on home runs, no team will be more geared to the long ball in 2018 than the Yankees.
Let's not make this just about Yankees fans. We're all going to enjoy the show. Or at least be watching.
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.