Take 5 | Aaron Judge to the Pirates, Bryce Harper is worth the money


AP Photo/Eric Gay

Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper walks to the dugout after striking out during the first inning in Game two of baseball’s World Series between the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.

By The Pitt News Staff

In this week’s Take 5, The Pitt News Sports Desk takes a look at the Pirates’ chances of landing free agent outfielder Aaron Judge, Bryce Harper’s recent success and more. 

The Pirates should enter the Aaron Judge sweepstakes // Brian Sherry, Staff Writer

Pirates owner Bob Nutting is notorious for his hesitancy to spend money on free agents. But it is never too late to change. Aaron Judge, a once-in-a-generation talent, just dominated the 2022 season, breaking the American League record for home runs in a single season with 62. Every front office in the MLB will likely make pursuing Judge a top priority this offseason.

Judge may have interest in moving to the Steel City. Judge recently praised Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz. Adding Judge would immediately make the Pirates serious playoff contenders in the weak NL Central division. But Nutting’s reluctance to spend money could put a halt to any dreams of Judge wearing a black and yellow jersey next season. 

With World Series berth, Bryce Harper proved he’s worth the price tag // Ben Pisano, Staff Writer

My grandpa used to call Bryce Harper “Mr. Moneybags,” a derisive reference to Harper’s enormous 13-year, $330 million contract. With this nickname, my grandfather expressed a sentiment widely shared in Philadelphia sports circles — the Phillies overpaid for Harper.

Harper’s lack of postseason success was the crux of the argument for why he wasn’t worth what the Phillies gave him. Before his time in Philadelphia, Harper reached the postseason in four of his seven seasons with the Washington Nationals but never won a postseason series.

With his 2022 postseason performance, Harper effectively silenced these critics and proved why he deserves such a lucrative contract. He has a .392 batting average, 11 RBIs and five home runs. One of those home runs gave the Phillies the lead over the San Diego Padres and sent them to the World Series.

Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away before he could see the Phillies make this unlikely postseason run. If he were alive, he would give Harper a new nickname — “Mr. Worth-Every-Penny.”

People need to listen and take action when female athletes report misconduct // Sara Meyer, Staff Writer

Professional athletes invest their entire lives in their sport, so imagine how devastating it is to discover that their health and safety come second to performance, even at the professional level.

For many female athletes, this is their reality.  

Allegations of misconduct against several coaches last season in the National Women’s Soccer League are just one example of how a higher authority takes advantage of their athletes. The NWSL’s Portland Thorns fired coach Paul Riley after a sexual harassment allegation in 2015. Just two years later, he joined another NWSL organization, the North Carolina Courage.

This abuse is not unique to soccer either. The team doctor for the United States Women’s Gymnastics team, Larry Nassar, is alleged to have sexually assaulted at least 265 women and girls. Sports teams and front offices need to take these allegations seriously and do more to ensure that female athletes’ voices are heard. 

Islam Makhachev vying for the No. 1 spot in UFC — but at what cost? // Mason Carter, Staff Writer

Islam Makhachev, the new UFC lightweight champion displayed his dominance against Charles Oliveira earlier this month. The new champion secured his victory via an arm triangle in the second round. Standing in the octagon exhausted, he proceeded to call out Alexander Volkanovski and challenge him to a fight.

Volkanovski left his seat among the crowd and entered the ring to accept the challenge.

Makhachev is trending upward right now. Currently on a 10-win streak, compiling a record of 23-1, he sits at the No. 3 pound-for-pound spot. He’s an all-around complete fighter, showing striking skills to go along with grappling skills. Of his 23 victories, 10 ended in submission, while four ended in TKOs. 

Alexander Volkanovski is the current No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter and lightweight division champion. He stands with a record of 25-1, defending his title four times now.

It’s Volkanovski’s decision to attempt to move up to the lightweight division to face the sport’s newest phenom. But the pursuit of glory might cost him everything with this fight. Makhachev looks like the best fighter in the world.

J.T. Realmuto is baseball’s unheralded star // Zack Gibney, Senior Staff Writer

Fans and members of the media widely regard Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto as one of the best catchers in baseball. The nine-year veteran does just about everything well — from playing excellent defense to providing a formidable middle-of-the-order bat.

However, some don’t even regard Realmuto as the best player on his team. That title goes to Bryce Harper, the defending National League MVP.

But make no mistake — Realmuto is one of the most valuable players in all of baseball.

Looking solely at this year, Realmuto led the majors in caught stealing percentage while hitting .276 with 86 RBI. In an era where consistent catchers are hard to come by, Realmuto is a bona fide star behind the plate.

Realmuto hit the game-winning home run in the 10th inning of game one of the World Series, but that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of his impact on this year’s Fall Classic. His mere presence behind the plate limits the Houston Astros’ ability to move runners into scoring position with stolen bases, which is critical late in games.

Harper rightfully gets the praise he deserves, but without Realmuto, the Phillies are watching this World Series at home.