Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Takes Beating the Yankees Personally

The subsequent time the son of a street group’s famous person visits the Bronx, the Yankees could be sensible to deal with him properly. Kids with lengthy reminiscences and extraordinary expertise enjoyment of revenge.

In the Nineties, it was Ken Griffey Jr. Now, it’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Just as Griffey tormented the Yankees repeatedly in his prime, Guerrero, 24, is doing the similar in his. The newest punches came visiting the weekend in a sequence victory for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Guerrero, their slugging first baseman, blasted a two-run homer to begin the scoring on Friday. On Sunday he did it once more, pulling a blistering liner into the seats close to the left subject foul pole with two outs in the sixth inning. The Blue Jays went on to win, 5-1, and the Yankees misplaced a sequence for the first time this season.

As he rounded first base, Guerrero pointed skyward. He stutter-stepped on his approach round third. He kissed his wrists as he pranced house. The crowd booed, and Guerrero reveled in it.

“Of course, you hearken to it,” Guerrero, who’s hitting .341, mentioned in Spanish by way of an interpreter. “But they are not going to take that house run away from me. I’m simply going to proceed to run the bases and revel in it.”

Although Guerrero can’t be a free agent till after the 2025 Major League Baseball season, he vowed publicly final low season to by no means play for the Yankees. The declaration echoed one by Griffey, then with the Seattle Mariners, who was filmed signing autographs at outdated Yankee Stadium and vowed: “If they had been the solely group that gave me a contract, I’d retire.”

Griffey’s stance got here from a sobering incident as an adolescent, when he was sitting along with his father, Ken Sr., on the Yankees’ bench earlier than a recreation. A safety guard instructed the Griffeys that the Yankees’ proprietor, George Steinbrenner, had issued an edict to clear the dugout. They did, however not earlier than Ken Sr. identified that the son of a teammate, Graig Nettles, was taking grounders at third base at that very second.

The takeaway — {that a} white participant was given privileges not afforded a Black participant — emboldened the youthful Griffey, who hit 41 homers in opposition to the Yankees in his profession, together with 5 in a five-game playoff sequence victory in 1995. (Only one group, the Minnesota Twins, allowed extra homers to Griffey.)

Guerrero’s father, Vladimir Sr., by no means performed for a New York group in his Hall of Fame profession, though his profession common in opposition to the Yankees (.319, together with the postseason) is a bit higher than his .316 profession mark all through the common season and playoffs. Whatever the origin of Guerrero’s challenge with the Yankees, it appears to chop simply as deeply.

“It’s a private factor,” he mentioned Sunday. “It goes again with my household, and I’m not going to speak about greater than that. Things occurred in the previous and I’m simply going to go away it like that.”

Like Griffey Jr., Guerrero Jr. has thrived in opposition to the Yankees. His slugging share at Yankee Stadium is .614, the better of any participant in the ballpark’s 15-year historical past (minimal 100 at-bats). His 12 homers in the Bronx are the most he has hit in any street stadium.

“You get right here and also you get booed, and you may type of do certainly one of two issues,” Blue Jays Manager John Schneider mentioned. “Reggie Jackson mentioned, ‘They do not boo no one,’ so I feel Vladdy type of labored off of that slightly bit. We all know the type of hitter that he’s.”

Toronto starter Kevin Gausman, who blanked the Yankees for seven innings on Sunday, mentioned Guerrero basks in the heel’s function.

“It looks like he loves enjoying right here,” Gausman mentioned. “He says he would not like coming right here, however he performs fairly effectively right here. Anytime he comes as much as bat, we’re all paying consideration as a result of he simply hits the ball so exhausting. He’s a man that type of likes being the villain after we come right here.”

The Blue Jays’ George Springer has expertise with heckling; he performed for the champion Houston Astros in 2017, the yr of their sign-stealing scandal, and was amongst the gamers booed by opposing followers as soon as the scheme was revealed. Springer mentioned Guerrero is calm by nature, trusting in his expertise and his course of. But it’s a subtlety that impresses Springer the most.

“How he processes info is next-level,” Springer mentioned. “He’s a scholar of the recreation in his personal approach. The approach he goes about issues, I imply, he remembers every part.”

Including, fairly clearly, one thing from the previous that drives Guerrero to conquer the Yankees each likelihood he will get.

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