The 2022 Texas Rangers season is finally (some might say mercifully) coming to a close.
Typically for a team with 93 losses, the final home stand of the season would be a quiet one. Instead the Rangers are hosting Aaron Judge and the Yankees. Judge, in the midst of a historic season and currently tied for the all-time American League record for home runs, brings with him a circus of media and fan attention, providing the Rangers with a bit of a cruel twist on the idea of “important October baseball.”
Here’s what you need to know about Judge’s potentially record-setting trip to Arlington to close out the 2022 MLB regular season, from ticket availability to an itinerary on what to do should you happen to catch fateful home run ball No. 62:
Game 1: Monday, Oct. 3 at 6:05 p.m. Judge went 1-4 with a single and a strikeout.
Games 2 and 3: (Double-header) Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 1:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m. Jon Gray will start the first game for the Rangers; Texas is yet to list a starter for the second.
Game 4: Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 3:05 p.m. Glenn Otto starts for Texas in the last game of the season.
What you need to know
Having gone homerless on Monday night, Judge is currently stuck on 61. That’s after he hit the American League record-tying blast in Toronto against the Blue Jays on Sept. 28. He took a 3-2 fastball from Jays’ reliever Tim Mayza and hit it 394 feet to left field to tie former Yankee Roger Maris’ still-standing AL home run record, famously set in 1961. MLB Statcast tagged Judge’s blast at 117.4 mph off the bat, the hardest he’s hit a home run ball all season.
Besides that? He’s been in what, for him, can be considered a home run drought. His emphatic 61st is the only bomb he’s hit in his last 12 games. Instead he’s casually posted a .235/.509/.412 slashline with an OPS of .921. Judge’s version of “slumping” in 2022.
That OPS was an eye-popping 1.434 for the month of September, and his .417 batting average propelled Judge into the race for the AL Triple Crown as well. He’s dusted the competition for the HR title, leads the RBI chase by eight, and trails the batting average lead by four points.
Now, is it The Big One? Is it the major league record for home runs in a single season? No. In fact, it’s not even in the top 5, which has helped perpetuate baseball’s never-ending argument on the legitimacy of Barry Bonds’ home run record, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s chase in 1998 and the steroid age in general.
Regardless, Judge is having a remarkable season, he’s doing something that hasn’t been done in over 60 years, and, if nothing else, it’s fun.
Spoke to a handful of Rangers on the subject of Judge and while nobody wanted to engage in HR record talk, unsolicited every one of them said essentially or in these words: "Aaron Judge is good for baseball and what Aaron Judge is doing is good for baseball." https://t.co/9lxf0cVlGg— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) October 3, 2022
You might be out of luck.
The Rangers announced a crowd of 35,906 for Monday’s 3-1 loss, and the team is expecting 30,000-plus at each of the remaining three games.
If you just want to get in the building, there are still some tickets available on the team website, peppered throughout the upper levels. But if you want tickets for anywhere that Judge is likely to hit a home run, you might have to shell out.
Even for the first game of Tuesday’s double-header, a 1:05 start on a weekday, it’s down to the fringiest of the fringe of home run territory in right field. Judge would have to hit one as far the opposite way as he has all season for those seats to have a chance. Since he went homerless on Monday, those available seats are likely to go quick.
The secondary market might not offer much help, either. StubHub currently lists some sporadic individual tickets for sale around the left field seats — some of which have price tags in the four- and even five-figures.
Where will it go?
If you’re savvy enough to have booked outfield seats, here’s what you can expect in terms of the potential No. 62 coming your way.
Judge’s numbers at Globe Life Field are actually pretty tame. He’s never homered at the new park, going 5-for-19 with an RBI and three strikeouts, and no XBH either. The Rangers are the only AL team Judge hasn’t homered against in 2022.
If you take a look at his home run spray chart from 2022, you’ll see that he’s heavy on pull-power, typical of many righty sluggers, but has plenty to the opposite way as well (his total no doubt aided by the 314-foot right field porch at Yankee Stadium).
Judge has hit 30 (49.2%) of his home runs to left field in 2022, to go along with 15 (24.6%) to straightaway and 16 (26.2) opposite way. It can conveniently be simplified down to this: If you’re sitting in left field, you’re about twice as likely to be in the vicinity of a Judge bomb than if you were in center or right.
Judge’s last two bombs have been to left, and his last three have been off sinkers.
What to do if you catch 62
So, after all that, you’ve managed to procure prime Judge-zone seats in left field for one of the games vs. the Yankees. You usually don’t bring a glove, but you do this time. You get there early and you eat a hot dog (no ketchup).
Judge steps in for one of his highly-anticipated at-bats and launches one deep into the Arlington night, right towards you. It probably hangs in the air for just three or four seconds and is likely coming in hot at around 100 mph, so not only do you catch history by snagging it, but you perhaps save your own teeth as well.
Firstly: Hang on to it. Legally speaking, if you catch it clean, the ball is yours. Even if someone pries it out of your hands. There’s precedent for that, once again involving Barry Bonds, that time with his 700th career homer.
The Rangers will have extra security in the stands to monitor the ball and identify who might catch it, and all balls that will be used during Judge’s at-bats have been specially authenticated by MLB. In short, if you catch it, it will be easy to prove you’ve got it.
Security will then likely come to you and invite you to the team offices (in this case possibly the visiting clubhouse). The team will make an offer in an attempt to cut a deal for the ball, which you’re well within your rights to negotiate with or outright refuse.
That’s what happened with 20-year-old Michael Kessler, a Yankees fan who caught Judge HR No. 60. Kessler was whisked downstairs by security and ended up swapping the ball for a bounty that included a clubhouse meet-and-greet with Judge, four autographed baseballs, and a signed game bat. That’s a pretty solid offer from an MLB club, and it’s no wonder the Yankees were able to negotiate for home run balls Nos. 56, 57 and 58 as well. No. 59 was kept by a Brewers fan. No. 61, after sinking inches short of the outstretched glove of some poor unlucky Blue Jays fan, was recovered by a Jays bullpen coach and given back to the Yankees.
There’s the other route, as well, in which you decline all offers and keep the ball yourself. David Kohler from SCP Auctions, an auction house specializing in buying and selling important sports memorabilia, estimated to TMZ that the record-breaking 61st home run could be worth upwards of $500,000.
So, yeah, it’d be understandable if you decide to keep it.