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Sunday, September 28, 2014

I come to bury Jeter, not to praise him. Derek Jeter was not good enough to be the best player on a championship team.

Derek Jeter skipped the first game in Boston Friday.  So did I.  Yesterday I watched the inning in which Masahiro Tanaka got knocked out and I saw Jeter bat once, getting an infield hit.  I'm now as disinterested as Jeter.  He's mailing it in at $12,000,000 for the season and $265,000,000 for his career.

Derek Jeter ... overrated. Derek Jeter ... overrated. Derek Jeter ... overrated.  Friday, September 12, 2014

Derek Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation: who profits?  Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Derek Jeter's WAR rank among SS by year and career. Jeter showed up for work.  Saturday, September 27, 2014

Yesterday the FOX announcer lemmings were praising Jeter like mad and turning negatives into positives, including Jeter deciding not to play shortstop in Boston.  Why is still unclear.  Jeter was pretty rude to Harold Reynolds who asked him in an interview shown before Jeter's climactic last game in Yankee Stadium Thursday if Jeter would play in Boston.  It is now apparent that Jeter was guarding his legacy but doing a more refined job of it than did Ted Williams who hit that phony last at bat home run in 1960.  Williams then abandoned his team and did not even go to New York for the Red Sox final three games.  At least Jeter showed up even if merely to joke around with teammates in the dugout and receive ovations when he stepped to the plate as designated hitter, only twice so far.

Ted Williams in 1951 Red Sox games 142-150 ... and abandoning his team.  Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ted Williams: did he sulk in his tent in 1956, too?  Monday, September 26, 2011

After writing yesterday's post on Jeter's WAR it occurred to me that my analysis of the New York Knicks in the 1990s was applicable to Jeter.   Patrick Ewing  wasn't good enough to be the best player on an NBA championship team.  That was the Knicks problem.  That plus the Knicks needed a second star, which is the NBA formula.

Baseball is different and even great players can be marginalized.  That's the nature of the game.  In basketball in a big situation the star player is involved.  In baseball it's random at best.

However, the big four Yankees were as much the reason for the success of their teams as an individual baseball player can be.  As Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle goes, so go the Yankees.  As Derek Jeter goes, so go the Yankees?  Who the heck in his right mind ever thought that?

Derek Jeter was not even like Patrick Ewing.  Ewing was clearly the best player on the Knicks.  Jeter was the best Yankee in 1999.  That's it.  And even then Derek Jeter was not good enough to be the best player on a championship team.  Those Yankee teams won precisely because Jeter was not their best player.  The Yankees won because there were multiple players who were comparable or better than Jeter: Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada.  No one thought that Jeter could carry the team.

Most of the orgasmic awe of Jeter is because only five players had more hits.  Only nine had more plate appearances.  Only six had more at bats.  Only eleven made more outs and Jeter would pass Craig Biggio in outs if he played three full games in Boston; Jeter trails by four outs.

Pete Rose has the most hits.  Rose also has the most outs.  That's one reason no one considers Rose the best hitter.  Does anyone consider Jeter the sixth best hitter?  As a hitter, Jeter is comparable only to Rose of the five players with more hits.  Get off the Derek Jeter hit parade.  It's embarrassing.  We've moved way past that.

Ten players since 1901 had at least 200 hits in a season and a batting average under .300.  Anybody impressed with them?  Two led their league in hits and EIGHT led in at bats.

Derek Jeter at New Comiskey Park, July 29, 1999
 by clare_and_ben via Wikimedia Commons
Finally, I watched Jeter his entire career.  I'm very disappointed in how he succumbed to the celebrity treatment he received this season and became all too impressed with his own self importance over the team.  All those Jeter flags flying over Yankee Stadium in place of the 30 team flags were especially obnoxious.  The Jeter patch that all Yankee players wore on both their caps and home shirts in the final weeks were equally distressing.  Previously, numbers were worn in mourning the deaths of Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio in place of a plain black arm band as had been worn when Thurman Munson died in 1979.  And all the proprietary Jeter Junk being foisted on all too many gullible fans was completely greedy and unnecessary.

Derek Jeter was a good player for a long time but he was not a great player at bat or in the field.  Jeter was a pretty good person most of that time but far from the perfect person people are deluding themselves into believing now.  I think that Jeter will not age nearly as gracefully as people expect.  His prickly side will become more apparent if he does not use his discipline to control and hide it.

I find it ironic that Jeter is now juxtaposed with his one time best buddy Alex Rodriguez, who on his return next season will undoubtedly be cast as the anti-Jeter.  Jeter never supported Rodriguez during his travails, nor did he make joining the Yankees any easier.  In fact did Jeter ever support anyone?  Not some adolescent greeting at second base but actually support?  And where was the Jeter leadership during the performance enhancing drug (PED) era?  Jeter benefited from teammates Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Chuck Knoublauch, Alex Rodriguez and many more.  Did Jeter condemn?  Did Jeter try to help?  Jeter went along and now Jeter is the poster child of outgoing commissioner Allan Huber "Bud" Selig who presided over the PED era and whose family benefited finacially probably more than any in the Major Baseball League (MBL) and who let the PED use continue and boost MBL prosperity until forced to change as a public relations move.  Jeter and Selig deserve each other.  No doubt each will get to throw out a ceremonial first ball in a 2014 tournament finals game, which will start far too late and take far too long.

Derek Jeter may still have that lean look but no longer the hungry look.

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