A day after Judge's glance, tensions still high between Yanks & Jays

May 17th, 2023

TORONTO -- One day after controversy spilled out of the Yankees’ 7-4 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, things only got more interesting on Tuesday.

In the eighth inning Monday, Sportsnet cameras picked up on quickly glancing away from the pitcher and to the right, somewhere in the area of a first-base coach or the Yankees’ dugout. As broadcasters Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez questioned what exactly was happening, Judge launched his second home run of the day, a Statcast-projected 462-foot monster off of Toronto reliever Jay Jackson.

“From what I was told, I was kind of tipping the pitch, ... They were kind of picking up on it,” Jackson told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) on Tuesday.

Recent history matters here. This rivalry has grown more heated as the Blue Jays have joined the Yankees among the AL East’s powers, and it nearly boiled over last season with a beef between Alek Manoah and Gerrit Cole. Earlier this season, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. stirred it up again by saying he would never play for the Yankees, “not even dead,” calling it “a personal thing.” Yankees fans didn’t take kindly to it.

On Tuesday, a 6-3 Yankees' win, this continued to play out both on and off the field as the Blue Jays’ dugout and Yankees third-base coach Luis Rojas exchanged words in the third inning. Toronto pitching coach Pete Walker was involved, alongside manager John Schneider.

“Pete was, probably more playfully than anything, saying, ‘I’m watching you,'" Schneider said. "Rojas kind of took exception to it. It’s two competitive teams. You’re not pleased with the way everything has shaken out in the last 24 hours, right? It’s just people being competitive. Rojas responded how he did and we responded how we did.”

The gamesmanship continued, too. Soon after Domingo Germán was ejected in the fourth, Yankees manager Boone asked the umpires to correct the positioning of the Blue Jays’ third-base coach, Luis Rivera. Here’s where it all stands after Day 2 of the drama.

What the two sides said Monday
With the immediacy of Twitter and live television, stories develop quickly. By the time Judge finally had a chance to speak postgame, he offered an explanation.

“There was a lot of chirping from our dugout, which I didn’t really like in a situation where it’s a 6-0 game and [Boone] got tossed,” Judge said. “I was trying to save Boonie by calling timeout, like, ‘Hey, hold up here. Let me work here.’ I was kind of trying to see who was chirping in the dugout; it’s 6-0 and Boonie got tossed. Let’s just go to work. I’m kind of looking, like, ‘Who’s still talking here?’”

Schneider and the Blue Jays had their radars up, though. These media availabilities happen almost simultaneously on each side of the stadium, so while Judge was explaining his perspective, Schneider explained why he was curious.

“It’s kind of odd that a hitter would be looking in that direction,” Schneider said. “He’s obviously looking in that direction for a reason. I think we’ll dive into that a little bit more tonight and tomorrow and make sure that we’re doing everything we can to not make ourselves susceptible to tendencies, locations, pitches or anything like that.”

What the Blue Jays are saying Tuesday
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Schneider focused more on the Yankees’ base coaches, not the dugout.

“It’s easy to look at a runner at second when you’re hitting. It’s tough to look into the dugout. It’s probably a little bit easier to look at a coach,” Schneider said. “I think that there’s boxes on the field for a reason. I think when it’s a glaring 30 feet where you’re not in that spot, you kind of put two and two together a little bit.”

Where Yankees' base coaches were positioned during Aaron Judge's eighth-inning home run

Schneider said the Blue Jays spoke with Major League Baseball on Tuesday morning about the issue.

When asked whether he bought Judge’s explanation, though, Schneider had more to say.

“I’m not in the business of buying postgame media,” he added. “He's a really accomplished hitter who won the MVP last year. I know that he means nothing but business and wants to win. I just found it a little funny he was worrying about his dugout when he was in the batter’s box.”

What the Yankees are saying Tuesday
The Yankees have spoken to MLB about the issue and the team’s understanding is that there will be no investigation. “Nothing that went on last night was against the rules,” Boone said.

Judge said prior to Tuesday’s game that he doesn’t see why it’s still a story, but he did take issue with how it was broadcast when asked about how the story started.

“I’ve got some choice words about that,” Judge said, “but it’s better just to keep that off the record.”

The 2022 AL MVP and home run king also sidestepped addressing Schneider’s comments directly when asked about the Blue Jays’ manager saying it was “funny he was worrying about his dugout.” He did take offense, though, to any allegation or insinuation of breaking rules.

“Especially with the things that have happened in this game with cheating and stuff, to get that thrown out, I’m not happy about it,” Judge said.

You can count Boone in that group, too. Asked about the back and forth between the teams and the umpires, Boone said that he was “tired” of it. You get the sense that he speaks for all of the Yankees, too, who have had this controversy -- which they even don’t consider to be one -- hanging over two big division wins.

“I hope not. It’s just silliness,” Boone said. “It’s silliness. It’s ridiculous. And I think everyone, I hope on both sides, realizes that.”