Archive for the 'Alex Rodriguez' Category
The NY Daily News’ Bill Madden is in the minority when it comes to common sense:
all of Fame’s Great Dilemma: It continues to bill itself as a museum, and the custodian of the game’s history, and records. But down the road, how does the Hall justify that if it excludes the holders of the most significant of those records?
…. with 15 MVP and Cy Young Awards between them, Clemens, ninth all-time in wins and third in strikeouts, and Bonds, the all-time home run leader, are the two most decorated players in the history of the Baseball Writers’ awards voting — and yet those same writers, many of whom are of the opinion they have an obligation to abide by the “integrity and sportsmanship” clause, feel compelled to say “No” when it comes to a plaque in Cooperstown.
…. “The problem you have now is that the Hall of Fame is supposed to tell the history of the game, good and bad,” said a baseball official, “and unfortunately there is this inconsistency between the records and the people elected to the Hall. If you’re going to keep out the suspected steroids players, don’t you then also have to put an asterisk or something on their records? You can’t have it both ways. Obviously, the commissioner has no intention of putting an asterisk on the records, and so, if they’re going to stand, Bonds and Clemens should be in the Hall of Fame. And, frankly, so, too, should Rose.”
Um, yeah. I’ve been saying that for going on a decade. Better late than never.
Meanwhile, Mike Lupica, (savior of children, baseball and integrity, though maybe not in that order) still wants us to know he’s got it right about Bonds and Clemens:
…. You break no laws, by the way, if you don’t care whether Clemens and Bonds and Sosa were shooting up in the dugout.
You don’t have to care.
But if you do, ask yourself a question:
Do you believe Clemens was clean over the second half of his career?
Once again, we see how it is with guys with a computer, a newspaper and am axe to grind. “Apologize.” Done. “Not enough.” “Gotcha, now go on trial.” Beat it. “Not enough.”
On and on. Just remember that Clemens was better than Lupica’s boyhood idols, Bonds was better than Lupica’s boyhood heroes, and that’s why he won’t let up. Guys like Palmeiro, guys like Ramirez, those guys he’s already forgotten about. Jason Grimsley? The only time Jason Grimsley will be in a Lupica article is if he shoots somebody. He didn’t beat an immortal.
UPDATE: In a related article written by Murray Chass, I came across this Buster Olney quote:
“The institution of baseball condoned the use of performance-enhancing drugs for almost two decades with inaction. To hold it against a handful of individuals now is, to me, retroactive morality.”
Again, not to belabor the point, but I have been saying that for going on a decade. At the risk of repeating myself, I’ll also mention that Pete Rose is in the same boat with these moving target assholes.. The sportswriters who now champion his permanent exclusion from baseball absolutely knew he was betting on sports for years; and at least a couple of them suspected he was betting on baseball. They said, wrote and did nothing, until it was politically expedient to act shocked and horrified.
On and on…. They demanded that Rose admit what he did, come clean, and apologize. The minute he did, they jumped down his throat insisting that he didn’t apologize the right way. Jason Giambi went through the exact same thing. So did A-Rod. Only Andy Pettitte appeared to handle his apology the right way. Of course, the writers already didn’t believe he was cheating anyway. He was an acknowledged “good guy,” which meant that he was a good interview for the sycophants.
I’m back. Vacation was great, but it’s time to start breaking some balls.
With the recent Hall of Fame vote concluded, it has again become fashionable to write, (incoherently, for the most part) about steroid use in the game of baseball. Today, I’d like to focus on a coherent writer, and an incoherent one. Let’s start with incoherence.
Here’s a man with no Hall of Fame voting credentials (Jeff Pearlman*) explaining to us, (and actual HoF voters, I presume) why Jeff Bagwell probably did steroids:
…. what the hell are we supposed to think?
A. Have you seen the photographs of a young Jeff Bagwell, first as a prospect in the Boston system, then with the Astros as a pup? He looks, perhaps not coincidentally, like a young Jason Giambi; like a young Barry Bonds; like a young Sammy Sosa; like a young Bret Boone. I know … I know—people gain weight as they get older. And, hey, he lifted! And used natural, over-the-counter supplements! And … enough. I’ve heard enough. Seriously, look at the guy as an in-his-prime Astro. Dude looks like Randy (Macho Man) Savage. And while I can already hear the “Just because he had muscles atop muscles doesn’t mean anything” argument brewing, well, it does—in the context of a sport overrun by cheaters—mean something. In fact, it means a lot.
Further on, in what could hardly be called an article, Pearlman also comes up with the fantastic statement that 75% of players during the “steroids era” were users! Wow! I didn’t know that. Of course, no one knew that. No one “knows” that, either, because it not only isn’t true, it’s made up. It’s what can only be charitably called, stretching the truth. In fact, it’s a lie.
Sure, I know that Pearlman is just trying to get some reader reaction. Make a controversial statement, get lots of traffic, etc.. I find it reprehensible. But, hey, that’s just me. In the meantime, real conversation about the situation, as shown in the work of Joe Posnanski, who is actually reasonably trying to wrestle with what we know about what happened, gets lost in the shuffle:
…. Jeff Bagwell — though he never tested positive for steroids, never was implicated in any public way, was not named in the Mitchell Report or by anyone on the record as a suspected user, and is not even on this rather comprehensive list of players linked to steroids or HGH — seems to have become in some voters’ minds a player who used performance-enhancing drugs.
I can’t even begin to describe my disgust at No. 2 … it makes me absolutely sick to my stomach. This is PRECISELY what I was talking about when I said how much I hate the character clause in the Hall of Fame voting. I think it encourages people to believe their own nonsense, to stand up on high and be judge and jury. It’s something that my friend Bill James calls the “I see it in his eyes” tripe. Bill has finished a book on crime — it is, he says, actually about crime books as much as crime — and one thing he kept running into in his research was people who claimed that they could pinpoint the murderer because “it was in their eyes.” Well, as Bill says, that’s a whole lot of garbage. Eyes are eyes. Some people look guilty when they’re innocent, and some people look innocent when they’re guilty, and most people don’t look innocent OR guilty except when we want to see that something in their eyes. Oh, but we love to believe we know. It’s one of the flaws of humanity. And the Hall of Fame character clause gives voters carte blanche to judge the eyes and hearts and souls of players.
…. I would say this to those people who would not vote for Jeff Bagwell because they simply believe he used steroids, based on how he looked or some whispers they heard. I have a better idea: Let’s just burn him at the stake. If he survives, you will know you were right.
A Hall of Fame voter who wants to exclude someone from the Hall because they can reasonably be assumed to have used is fine. It’s the voters choice to determine whether it matters or not. But to simply assume they cheated because they were great is not just absurd, it is a travesty, and it demeans the honor that having a Hall of Fame vote is. That’s right, it is an honor to be a voter. As such, if you cannot keep yourself from acting like an insufferable prick, if you cannot refrain from making unsubstantiated accusations, then maybe you should have that honor taken away.
We don’t know who did or didn’t use unless they tested positive or confessed, and even then, we are looking at laughably thin evidence; just look at the apology/confessions of A-Rod, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte or Mark McGwire. Or even better, just look at the testing protocol, which I doubt Jeff Pearlman ever has.
I’d also like to correct the commonly used fallacy that it is impossible for someone to put on twenty pounds of muscle without using steroids. Any man in reasonable shape (as in, not a flabby, out of shape sportswriter) under the age of thirty-five who puts in a two hours a day, six days a week serious weight-lifting regimen, under competent supervision, with a coincidental improvement in their diet and rest, could put on twenty pounds of muscle in six to nine months, twelve at the outside. A professional athlete, a man who is already filled with the highest levels of natural testosterone, and is already in terrific shape, who has the time and money to obtain the best training possible, could do it in six to nine months easily.
As someone who once trained under the supervision of a professional bodybuilder, someone who went from 5’8″ 158 pounds with a body fat percentage of 24%, to 5’8″ 177 pounds with a body fat percentage of 8% in 11 months, I actually know what I am talking about, you know, from actual experience. You think Pearlman, or any sportswriter can say that?
* For those of you in need of a reminder, Pearlman is the guy who wrote the book that goes into nauseating detail explaining how Barry Bonds was insufferable. He basically interviewed a couple hundred people who confirmed that, yes, Bonds was a dick to them. That was a book.
UPDATE: Regards Pearlman, here’s a quote from James W. Loewen that is pertinent here:
“People have a right to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. Evidence must be located, not created, and opinions not backed by evidence cannot be given much weight.”
I’d also like to rebut the many writers now defending any players from the last fifty-plus years who used amphetamines. Unless you have used speed over a period of more than a couple of days, relied on it to get through your back-breaking, ten-hour-a-day, six day-a-week job; your opinion on whether it should be considered a performance enhancer is worthless. You don’t know what you are talking about, and the hundreds of thousands of people who have used speed to get through the grind of their workday lives prove your folly. I have, and I’m telling you, you don’t know what you are talking about. For a baseball player, speed can be the difference during one of those fifteen games in sixteen days road trip, or during the dog days of August and September, and only an apologist could even think otherwise.
The Baseball Engineer deserves some front page time:
…. they’re demanding that everyone skip the ethics and morality “crap” and stick to the performance on the field. They’re also calling the majority voters who did not vote for McGwire or Rafael Palmeiro as the “high-horse crowd” while referring to their submitted ballots as demonstrations “self-righteousness” and “McCarthyism.”
Maybe the scathing labels are all part of a strategy to get the fence-straddlers and the soft-stance majority to hop on over to their side. Regardless, it’s clear the minority wants to ignore half of the voting requirements set forth by the Hall of Fame, which says, “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”
Which leads to one question for this resistance: Have you forgotten what sport you represent?
This is major league baseball, where sanctity, history, and tradition reign.
Are you kidding somebody? Sanctity? Really? What a crock of shit. Baseball — like life– is full of liars, cheats, and scoundrels. And so is the Hall of Fame. See, the issue isn’t that amphetamines are good. The issue that Neyer is raising is that these writers are using double standards, and either making up facts, –as in the case of Pearlman– or ignoring and/or explaining away inconvenient ones. So, when Rob Neyer says that he feels like if we know that many Hall of Famers used speed, he can’t hold any players steroid use against him, he’s not arguing for speed, he’s arguing for fairness. And when my friend David Pinto writes:
…. a lot of ballplayers like to party hard. Uppers allowed them to both party hard and play the game. Without speed, most players would have realized that partying put an early end to a career and let up so they were able to play awake. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that an amphetamine enhanced career wouldn’t be very different from his career if he went back back to his hotel room after a game and got a good night’s sleep.
He’s making excuses for guys who were doing something illegal in order to do better than they would otherwise. In addition, the idea that a good night’s sleep has the same effect as five or ten “greenies” is utter bullshit. I’ve read Ball Four. Bouton made it clear that there were players who couldn’t function at all without amphetamines. He wrote of teams that had coffee laced with it, next to candy bowls full of pills. Guys weren’t taking a pill, they were taking handfuls.
Furthermore, it wasn’t just speed. Athletes, including baseball players, have been using every chemical available for at least fifty years, something that I was shocked to learn was common knowledge in 1969:
…. “We occasionally use Dexamyl and Dexedrine [amphetamines]…. We also use barbiturates, Seconal, Tuinal, Nembutal…. We also use some anti-depressants, Triavil, Tofranil, Valium…. But I don’t think the use of drugs is as prevalent in the Midwest as it is on the East and West coasts,” said Dr. I. C. Middleman, who, until his death last September, was team surgeon for the St. Louis baseball Cardinals.
That quote came from a Sports Illustrated cover story from June 23rd, 1969. So, let’s get real. Or better yet, let’s get off our high horses. Stop the “save the game” bullshit, the “protect the integrity” hypocrisy, and get back to doing what you are good at, writing about baseball. I don’t need your help in determining what is right or wrong. You don’t want to vote them in, don’t. Stop inventing reasons. We already know your reasons. You want to make sure you’re on the right side of the argument. Back when nobody cared, you didn’t either. Now, Congressman Henry Waxman thinks it’s a travesty, so you do, too. Please.
Hat Tip to Baseball Musings, where I’ve been finding virtually all of these latest articles and rants.
I’m sorry, but I just can’t help myself.
Eric, one of my backtalkers, pretty much sums up the common thread in all of the internet-wide negativity surrounding Jeter’s negotiations:
“I don’t know that he deserves anything. He has given a lot to the Yankees, yes, but he has received a lot, too. How many other players have had the chance he has? Playing for the Yankees, especially in the last 15-20 years in an era of unprecedented revenue (allowing the Yankees to REALLY shoot off the charts with their payroll) has helped Jeter become the player he is/was. “
My question is this, how can Eric –and pretty much everyone else that is thinking along these lines– miss the single most salient point in this debate by so much?
The reason the Yankees’ revenue has gone up so much in the last 15 years is because they became a dynasty. It is because they won 4 World Series in 5 years (and just missed 4 in a row), and have made the postseason fourteen of the last fifteen seasons, and Derek Jeter is one of the main reasons that has happened. Not to pick on you, Eric, but, did you even read what I wrote? Do you, or for that matter, anybody, have any sense of history whatsoever?
Prior to Jeter’s arrival, the Yankees had won nothing for almost 20 years. NOTHING.
NOTHING! NOTHING! NOTHING! NOTHING!!!!!!
How can you even discuss this, if you have no apparent knowledge about the history of what has happened, unless you’ve already decided that you know everything there is to know about the issue? The Yankees in 1995, went to the postseason for the first time in Don Mattingly’s career. His last season. Prior to that, the Yankees hadn’t made the playoffs since 1981. The only reason people wanted to be a Yankee was for the cash General von Steingrabber was doling out, and even then, the lure of big bucks wasn’t always enough. There was no cache, no pizzaz. The “Aura” of the Yankees was a memory. No ballplayers talked about how much they wished for “the chance to play for the Yankees.” In 1992, Greg Maddux turned the Yankees down when Steinbrenner tried to sign him as a free agent. The “Boss” offered more money than Atlanta, and Maddux said no thanks. Forget about how ballplayers didn’t want to come to the Yankees, neither did the fans. No fans poured into Yankee Stadium to watch the greatest team the game had seen in the last 50 years, because that team didn’t exist!
The Yankees drew 1.7 million fans in 1995, good for 7th out of the fourteen teams in the league. SEVENTH!!!!! They were 7th again in 1996, 5th in 1997. In 1998, when the Yankees went 125-50 throughout the regular season and the playoffs, making a case for being the greatest baseball team in history, they were still only 3rd in the league in attendance. (By the way, you know who was the best player on that team, arguably the best team of all-time? Derek Jeter, with 7.8 WAR) They were 3rd again in 1999, and then again in 2000, as they were winning their third consecutive World Series. It wasn’t until 2003 that the Yankees led the league in attendance, after they had been in the World Series for the 6th time in 8 years.
Over the course of that eight year run, during the regular season, Derek Jeter led the Yankees in almost every meaningful, measurable statistic: hits, times on base, at-bats, plate appearances, runs scored, doubles, games played. He was a Rookie of the Year, an All Star every season. He played in 1,197 of a possible 1,296 games. In the postseason, he was simply a sensation. A quick look at what he did during those first eight years is illuminating.
In ’96, he hit .360. In ’97, he hit .333. 1998 saw him post just a .235 batting average overall, but he hit .353 in the Serious. In 1999, he was on fire, batting .375 to carry the team. In 2000, he posted a .317 batting average. In 2001, after going 8 for 18 while leading the Yankees back from an 0-2 deficit against the A’s, he hurt himself diving into the stands in Game Five and managed just 6 hits the rest of the playoffs. It should be noted that his injury certainly contributed to the Yankees falling to the D’backs and derailing their chances of winning their fourth title in a row. In 2002, against the eventual champions, the Anaheim Angels, Jeter did all he could, going 8 for 16 in the four game loss, with 2 home runs and 6 runs scored. And in 2003, when the Yankees went to the Series again, Jeter batted .314 for the playoffs, and .356 in the World Series. Today he is the all-time leader in virtually every significant statistic. He’s even third all-time in postseason home runs, with 20. Sure, he’s played in a lot of playoff games. He’s one of the reasons why.
And don’t give me that Core Four bullshit. Pettitte left. And, sure, Mariano Rivera is the best closer ever, but he’s responsible for something like 200-250 batters a season. Posada’s been the number one catcher for a while, but let’s not forget, Girardi was the number one catcher in 1996 and 1997, and in 1998 and 1999, he was still getting 75-odd games behind the dish. That’s three of the first four titles. During these fifteen years, the Yankees have had a parade of players at virtually every postion but short, many of them players who were paid more money than Jeter at the time. No matter how you slice it, it’s been Jeter who has been the one constant.
Nothing had changed in the world of the Yankees over the last fifteen years, other than all the winning. Steinbrenner was still going out and signing the best free agents available, as he had been since he took over the team in the 70′s. He was still giving those players –players who hadn’t contributed to any Yankee tradition, championships, or anything– huge sums of money, almost always more than anyone else was offering. Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, hell, people forget that Tino Martinez was a free agent they brought in to replace Mattingly. Roger Clemens, David Cone, anyone remember Chuck Knoblauch? When they signed Knoblauch after the 1997 season (his fourth All Star season in the previous six), they gave him a four year deal worth $6 million per. You know how much Jeter made in 1998? $750,000. Even Darryl Strawberry ($825,000) made more than Jeter in 1998. Virtually every player on the team did. Practically every everyday player in baseball did. Derek Jeter’s 7.8 WAR was second to A-Rod’s 7.9 in the American League that season. A-Rod made $2.6 million, even though he played for Seattle. That’s a terrific illustration of how much things have changed. The Seattle Mariners were paying their All Star shortstop three times as much as the Yankees were paying theirs.
Over the last 15 years, Derek Jeter has been the Yankee shortstop day after day, at the plate 600 times a season, gets 190-plus hits like clockwork, and has been a team leader of the highest order. He is the face of the franchise, and the franchise’s outrageous financial success is intrinsically tied to what the team has done on the field, which is tied to the one player who has been there the whole time, a decade and a half that has changed the fortunes of the Steinbrenner family, and the Yankee franchise, forever.
The Yankees gave 37-year old Kevin Brown $32 million dollars for 200 innings of 5-plus ERA. Don’t tell me how they can’t overpay Derek Jeter, that this is a business decision, that his worth is set by the market. That is utter nonsense.
If the Yankees can throw $90 million dollars combined on the ground for Carl Pavano and Kei Ishigawa; they can absolutely, without question, and without reservation, give Derek Jeter the same amount of money for his last four years with the team. He is different. He is not just any player, and the Yankees are wrong to pretend like he is.
Wow, I am stunned by the negative reaction. I know that many people feel Jeter is over-rated and all that, but to hear that he’s not a leader, already over-paid, in obvious decline, etc.. Stunning. I’ve always thought that his leadership qualities were overblown, sure. I mean, it was clear to me that when the Yankees landed A-Rod, A-Rod probably should have taken over short, and Jeter should’ve slid to center-field, like Yount did for Milwaukee about a thousand years ago. In terms of what’s best for the team, that move was a no-brainer, A-Rod was clearly the better player, the Yankees at the time needed a center-fielder, and Jeter had always shown excellent instincts on fly ball. Of course, only Jeter could’ve have stopped it, and when he did, he dropped down a notch in my estimation.
That said, he is one of the constants during this historic run of dominance by the Yankees. This is a fact, and it is not in dispute. What is in dispute is what he is going to be paid for the next four years or so. The fact that the Phillies gave Jimmy Rollins a lesser deal, or gave Chase Utley, who is younger and a better hitter, the same deal as the Yankees are offering Jeter doesn’t matter at all. What other team are paying their players has no bearing on this at all. When the market said CC Sabathia was worth $100 million, the Yankees gave him $161 million. The Yankees pay more. They pay more, because they make more.
If you are the top software programmer for Bob’s software company, you’re gonna make a lot less than if you are the top software programmer for Apple. I would’ve thought this is common knowledge, but apparently, it isn’t. If a player comes to the Yankees and helps lead them to the playoffs and beyond, he is making an impact on the Yankees bottom line, and the Yankees bottom line is bigger, much bigger, than just about any other team’s. He is adding value to the franchise. Jeter has added massive value to the franchise over the 15 years he’s been there. You don’t compare his salary to what a player in San Francisco or Philadelphia makes, because there is no comparison.
And one of the main reasons that that is the case just happens to be the current dynastic run that Derek Jeter is an irreplaceable part of. Obviously, people don’t remember, but back in 1996, the Yankees hadn’t won anything in almost 20 years. Don Mattingly played his entire career as a Yankee, and only made the playoffs in the last year. And, Steinbrenner was considered a joke, a buffoon. Lupica called him General von Steingrabber, and he was –rightfully– regularly pilloried in the NY Daily News, the NY Post, and even Sports Illustrated for his antics. Remember Billy Martin? Steinbrenner hired him 5 times. 5 times! He fired Yogi Berra 16 games into the season, a move that prompted Berra to boycott the Yankees for some 15 years. Steinbrenner was a gas bag, a joke, widely ridiculed around the league.
Now, they’re talking about whether Steinbrenner will get in the Hall of Fame within a year of his death. The Yankees were rich, and they spent more than anybody, but they weren’t rich like this. They weren’t a team the rest of the league worried about at all, because they never won anything, even though they spent and spent and spent. During Jeter’s time with the team, they’ve made the playoffs fourteen of the last fifteen years, been to the World Series seven times, and won five championships. The Yankees have represented the American League in almost half of the World Series that have been played while Jeter has been on the team. Read that sentence twice. I mean, how can that be overstated? What team wouldn’t give $100 million dollars right now to have that sentence be written about their team instead of the Yankees? What team’s fans wouldn’t trade the last fifteen years of their franchise with the Yankees?
In the fifteen years prior to Jeter’s arrival, the Yankees had Don Mattingly, by all measures, a much better baseball player than Derek Jeter, a man who also happened to be considered Jeter’s equal in terms of being revered by the fans, being classy, in handling the media, the spotlight of Yankee stardom. He was surrounded by some considerable talent, including Hall of Fame players Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield, as well as a few almost HoFers like Ron Guidry and Dave Righetti. The Yankees during those 15 years, the Lost Mattingly years, for lack of a better term, lost the 1981 World Series, and lost in the Wild Card round in 1995. That’s it. 15 years of baseball with the highest payroll, just like now, with the best player in the league for something like half the time, just like now, the Yankees won nothing. They weren’t on TV all the time, the series with the Red Sox weren’t considered the best baseball there was. They were an afterthought.
During the last fifteen years, the Atlanta Braves had a run of dominance that neatly coincided with the Yankees run. They’ve been to the Serious five times, and won only once. Why is that? They had plenty of talent. If you guys think it’s so easy to replace Jeter with Adrian Beltre, how come the Braves were only able to parlay all that talent into just a single championship? The Marlins were able to get two titles, for crying out loud.
Derek Jeter is one of the constants of this run. He is one of the Core Four, and they are one of the main reasons the team is where it is now, where the Steinbrenners are now. As a member of the Core Four, he’s been the top ranked player on the team four times during that stretch, a feat only equaled by A-Rod (four of the last six seasons). You want to tell me that it’s just a coincidence that the last fifteen years have seen the Yankees make the Serious half the time, while the previous fifteen it was once? Jeter’s not a leader? He should be paid like a Hanley Ramirez?
I don’t see it that way. He deserves a nice send-off, a thank you, if you will. Not to have his legacy trashed by a group of people who should know better, people who are riding on the coattails of some of his best work.
UPDATE: Still loads of vitriol all over the web about Jeter. Astounded to see how much of it is anti-Derek. Harvey Araton sees my point:
…. let the Yankees, who have thrown countless millions at players who gave back next to nothing, try to tell Jeter to go shop the qualities that have helped put such a classy face on a franchise run by people who would take the last dime from the pocket of a homeless person.
Let them say to Jeter with a straight face that there will be no position for him to play when he makes the inevitable move from shortstop — after winning 1990s championships with the likes of Charlie Hayes at third and a second baseman, Chuck Knoblauch, whose throws to first base were the stuff of tee-ball legend.
…. I’d like throw in my two cents on the Derek Jeter situation.
The Yankees are blowing this.
Jeter is hyper-competitive. You don’t get to where he’s gotten without a certain kind of fire burning inside you. Jeter is ultra-intense, ultra-competitive, and he’s gotta be that way with everything. Knowing this, it seems obvious that he is insulted that the Yankees are playing hardball with him, especially after watching A-Rod get a contract extension three years ago worth more than he has made in his entire life, even though A-Rod –at the time– hadn’t brought the Yankees even a single American League pennant, let alone a championship. He knows that, at that time, A-Rod was being vilified as A-Fraud, with nothing but notable post-season failures as a Yankee. He knows that since signing that deal, A-Rod’s reputation and value have been tarnished by his steroids scandal, and that he, Derek Jeter, is, as he has always been, as clean as the driven snow. He knows that he, too, is going to be passing a significant career milestone next season, and that the Yankees will, once again –because of what he, Derek Jeter, is doing– be the center of the baseball, and really, the entire sports world, when he does.
He’s insulted, he’s angry, and he’s right to be. A-Rod is signed through his age 42 season, and the Yankees are telling Jeter they are only willing to go to his age 39 season. He knows that the Steinbrenner family is wealthy beyond their father’s wildest dreams, and he knows that he is one of the reasons, one of the main reasons that they are. For Hank and Hal Steinbrenner to try and tell him about who earned what and how much it should be is disgraceful. They were born into wealth, they have built nothing. Work? All they do is sign checks and wear expensive suits. They know nothing about real hard work. They were sitting in the luxury box watching Derek Jeter build their dad’s team into financial juggernaut and a modern-day dynasty the likes of which we’re likely to never see again.
Derek Jeter is one of the main reasons the Steinbrenners are as wealthy as they are, he is one of the main reasons the Yankees are worth $1.6 billion dollars, one of the main reasons they have a cash flow from television and radio worth some $500 million dollars a year –much of it from the YES network– on which he is featured about ten times a day.
He deserves better. He is different. He is Derek Jeter. And he deserves another contract that pays him big. A five-year deal worth something like $75 million would probably get it done, but I think he wouldn’t complain too much if it was more money for a year less. Three years at $15 million per? Really? That’s less than they’re paying AJ Burnett, for crying out loud. Javier Vasquez makes $15 million a year. You think Jeter is gonna sit there and make as much money as a couple of the biggest busts on the team? No way.
See, here’s the rub…. the Yankees are forgetting who they are dealing with. When they say it’s just another contract negotiation, that it’s just another day in the life of running a team, that it’s business as usual; they are wrong. This is Jeter, the captain, the most beloved Yankee since Don Mattingly. And more importantly, Jeter is Jeter. He’s not Bernie Williams, who really did have no other baseball choice when the Yankees told him he would have to earn his way in the team. Williams said, the hell with it, I’ll go play guitar.
Derek Jeter is a proud man, cognizant of his place in baseball history, his place in Yankee history, and his own image. He is very much like Joe DiMaggio in that respect, in fact, old-timers around the Yankees say that he is like DiMaggio in many ways, and in that he is; the Yankees are going to lose if they keep going down this path. DiMaggion wouldn’t tolerate any form of disrespect. If you crossed him, you were as good as dead to him, forever. Jeter is very much like that. DiMaggio walked away when he felt he couldn’t keep up with his own level of greatness. He walked away from money, from fame, from everything. He simply disappeared. He said, if I can’t still be great, if I can’t still be DiMaggio, I don’t want to be here at all. You think there’s no way Jeter sees the writing on the wall? You bet he does. You bet he knows all about how DiMaggio walked away. You don’t think maybe he’d rather play golf than see his legacy tarnished by another year of leading the league in outs, another year of writers all over the country saying that he is old, that he has no range, that his Gold Glove was a fraud?
If the Yankees, if Hank and Hal think Derek Jeter is gonna sit there and allow his career, his worth, his image, his legacy, get treated this way by a couple of spoiled rich kids, they are out of their minds. If they think that he is going to sit there and listen to them talk about him like this in public, denigrating his worth to the franchise, to all of baseball, really, and that he is just going to take it, they are wrong. The Yankees think he has no choice, but he does.
Jeter can retire. Oh, yes, he can. He can walk away, tell the Yankees go ahead, see how easy it is to sell $10,000 dollar tickets with A-Rod as the face of your franchise. See how easy it is to be THE YANKEES when I am not here anymore. Jeter can retire, he can walk away right now. You think he doesn’t already know he is on the downside of his career? You think he hasn’t seen other great stars look like crap because they couldn’t walk away? He sure has. He’s seen players hanging on, just trying to get one more payday, one more chance to play. He is not that player. He can walk away. Jon Heyman asks the question from a different angle:
…. A friend of Jeter’s posed this question: Why not? Why can’t Jeter leave? The friend pointed out that most of Jeter’s dearest friends and allies are gone from the Yankees. Torre is gone. Mattingly is gone. George Steinbrenner is gone. Bernie Williams is gone. Tino Martinez is gone. The Core Four may still be there, but best friend Jorge Posada has been told he’s lost his catching job and the other three remain free agents at the moment (all three, including Jeter, were declined arbitration by the Yankees).
He can leave, but not to another team. He can retire. He can walk away proud, with his head up, instead of playing these games.
And he will, before he allows himself to be dragged through the mud by Brian Cashman and –more importantly– those two spoiled rich kids. He can walk away, satisfied that he is a five-time champion, that he is gonna be standing in front of the crowd in five years thanking everyone for helping him forge a Hall of Fame career.
Jeter can retire, and if the Yankees keep up this bullshit, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he did.
Grant over at McCovey Chronicles wrote a simply outstanding article about the McGwire situation, and the whole steroids and baseball issue, and comes away with a doozy of a piece:
…. This isn’t to imply that it was just fine that a large percentage of the players were using. It’s not something that’s inconsequential, and it isn’t something that can be laughed off because a lot of players were using. But, good gravy, please stop the good vs. evil, hobbits vs. orcs, black and white discussion. Stop the false dichotomy of players from THE STEROID ERA vs. the OLD-TIMERS who did things the right way and who, if offered a way to extend their careers and improve their numbers with some chemicals, would have said “No way! I’m an old-timer who does things the right way!” I’m not sure if Rod Carew, Robin Yount, or Paul Molitor would have used steroids if they played in an era saturated in chemical enhancements, but the odds are that one of them would have. I say we kick them all out using the “Fallibility of Man” clause, just to be sure.
So when I hear or read that McGwire shouldn’t get in the Hall of Fame because he didn’t apologize the right way, it makes me stabby. Apologize to whom? To me? I had an idea he was using at the time, and I didn’t really care.
Makes me stabby? Nice. Very nice.
Go over there, and read the whole thing.
This is getting ridiculous:
…. McGwire doesn’t get off the hook, and leave Bonds hanging on one of his own, because people like him more. Or because Cardinals manager Tony La Russa – who starts to come across as some unindicted coconspirator with McGwire – wants to rewrite his personal history as much as Mc-Gwire does.
Nobody is defending what Bonds did with his own drug use, ever. But Bonds didn’t start the “steroid era.” McGwire is the one who did that. He doesn’t get cleared now because of a crying jag that started to make you think he was watching some kind of all-day “Old Yeller” movie marathon.
The guy sure did do a lot of crying, before he ever got to Costas. It was reported in the St. Louis paper that he cried on the phone. It was reported in USA Today by Mel Antonen that he cried on the phone. Tim Kurkjian reported that McGwire cried on the phone with him. Everybody who watched the Costas interview saw what happened there. But the question that doesn’t go away is why he was so broken up if all he was doing was taking “low dosages” of steroids to heal.
Wow. I mean, wow. It’s hard to imagine a more pompous, self-aggrandizing response. Just who the hell does Mike Lupica think he is? Sure, he can be a terrific sportswriter, but man, is he coming off small right here.
And I’m not gonna let it slide. I can’t. It’s wrong. It’s indefensible, really.
If there’s only one place in the world where you can read about how the so-called defenders of the game get called out for the blatant hypocrisy, it’ll be here at OBM. I’ll defend the players. I’ll defend their right to be treated as human beings, as fallible. I’ll defend my favorites, and I’ll even defend the ones I didn’t care so much about. They are men who play games. They stand there, in the spotlight, with all the pressure you can imagine in a world where they get paid millions of dollars to run around and hit and throw and catch a ball. It bears mentioning that sportswriters like Lupica are often the source of much of that pressure.
Be sure of that. When Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez fail, when they run out a lousy playoff performance, or strike out with the game on the line; guys like Lupica make their bones telling us how lousy they are:
…. he has made a career of hitting home runs and knocking in runs and compiling some of the best numbers in the history of his game. What he has never done is play in a World Series, even though he was supposed to play in one every year when the Yankees beat the Red Sox out of getting him after the 2003 season. He carried the Yankees for one first-round series in 2004 against the Twins and has never done it again when the games matter the most.
…. Thirty-one to play now. Yankees six out in the wild-card race. They left runners on base the way they have all year. Tuesday night they finally heard about it, and good, the $300 million third baseman most of all. Of course he was the last batter of the game for the Yankees, one last runner on base. Of course he got struck out and got booed one last time for good measure.
That’s from two years ago, when A-Rod didn’t come through. The Yankees lost to the Red Sox, and Lupica’s lead –and back-page headline, by the way– was Enough blame to go around, but it lands on A-Rod.
And that was before A-Rod came clean on using steroids, which, of course, didn’t satisfy Mike -Hall of Fame Defender- Lupica:
…. Alex Rodriguez gave us more than you thought he would when he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, a lot more than any big baseball star ever has. Rodriguez gave us his version of the truth. But that’s all it was, his version, and one only provided because he finally got caught.
Rodriguez says he was only dirty when he played in Texas but cleaner than corners on a hospital bed when he was in Seattle before that, and later when he got to New York.
We are supposed to accept all that as gospel because he has made this kind of television confession now. Or maybe he just expects us to believe him because he has always been such a good scout.
Here’s an idea. Since you seem to think it’s completely acceptable to walk around all day telling everyone what they’re supposed to, let me tell you what to do:
Stick to writing about the game. Stop acting like your job is to break these athletes down, make them accountable, hold their feet to the fire, or whatever version of saving the children you happen to posturing about on any given day. You’re not David Halbestram, writing about Vietnam. You’re not Woodward and Bernstein, breaking the Watergate scandal. You’re a sportswriter. If it wasn’t for your ridiculous, gas-bag television show, no one in the world would even know what you look like.
It’s the players that matter to fans. It’s the teams that we root for. Not the sportswriters. And, honestly, if you didn’t write about A-Rod’s girlfriend, or McGwire’s steroids supplier, we’d never notice. Really. We don’t care.
You, and Tom Verducci and the rest of you Great Defenders think you are the story. You’re not. And, quite honestly, we’re all tired of hearing about it. Let it go. Your heroes let you down? Please. Get over it. Let it go.
Pete Rose. Jason Giambi. Marion Jones. A-Rod. Manny Ramirez. David Ortiz. Andy Pettitte. And you made damn sure that Mark McGwire knew he was never ever gonna get in the Hall of Fame if he didn’t apologize. On and on, you sat there, and called for their heads, like some King of all that’s Right. Except that the only way you show up like a King is when you’re being a royal pain in the ass. Not one time did any of these athletes satisfy your demands. Not one mea culpa was good enough. That’s the real story. Why did McGwire bother? We all have seen how you treated every other athlete who capitulated your demands. Why would anyone even consider coming clean, when this is what you get?
Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa are still in your sights. They haven’t asked for your forgiveness yet, have they? And given the shameless way you and the rest of you Great Defenders are acting, why would they ever even consider it? I sure as hell wouldn’t.
Shame on you. Shame on all of you.
UPDATE: Here’s another voice of reason:
…. In the wake of Mark McGwire’s admission that he used steroids and his blubbering, Costas-ized public apology, there’s been a good deal of faux outrage, petty character assassination, bad spelling, and even worse logic as the spineless hacks at the BBWAA and their willing sheep in the blogosphere rushed to pronounce judgement on Big Mac. There were the usual hyperbolic calls for records to be expunged, for purity to be restored to the game, and that sort of sanctimonious nonsense. There were those who nobly pretended to be shocked by McGwire’s admission. And then, there were those who laughed.
All the way to the bank.
I am speaking, of course, of the MLB owners cabal, and, in particular, of the leader, the man with the penchant for the short-sleeve dress shirt, one Bud Selig.
Well done. Hat tip to B
History made tonight. Matsui becomes the first Japanese-born player to win a World Series MVP, and a World Series, period.
Congratulations to the Yankees.
UPDATE: As I said yesterday, today’s game was all about Pettitte commanding the strike zone, and even though he walked five tonight, in the actual game situations, he was putting the ball exactly where he wanted to. Joe West was a bit inconsistent with his ball and strike calls, but Pettite refused to give in, and, in the end, with the early three-run lead, he was able to make sure that the pitches the Phillies swung at, the pitches that the Phillies hit, were the pitches he wanted them to swing at, the pitches he wanted them to hit. The pitches he wanted to them to hit, were thrown to the hitters he wanted to allow to have a chance to hit. All in all, the difference in the game was that Andy Pettitte commanded the strike zone, and by doing so, he won his 18th postseason game.
By the way, any talk about the Hall of Fame for Andy Pettitte (229-135 regular season record) must now consider the 40 postseason starts ( a whole extra seasons worth of work), and the 18-9 postseason record –which would raise his overall record to 257-144– was compiled at the highest, most demanding, pressure-filled level. Andy Pettitte has now won 5 postseason series clinching games. He’s now won 3 World Series clinching games. To suggest that he is the same pitcher as Jack Morris, as I read several times this week, is absurd. He’s had more than three times as many postseason wins as Morris, and he’s now won five –FIVE– World Series Championships.
Andy Pettitte did, in fact, command the strike zone, and, as I predicted, the Yankees did get to Pedro Martinez; and, as I predicted, if a Yankee hitter had an otherwordly game, he would steal the MVP from Mariano Rivera; and, as I predicted, if those things happened, the Yankees would be World Champions. And, they are.
Just the penultimate moment of the World Series, and Fox immediately cuts to a commercial instead of staying with the Sandman moment as Mariano comes in. Disgraceful.
Just writing that gives me bad mojo…..
Apparently, Girardi doesn’t want to swap A-Rod and Texeira in the lineup, not one article or report has mentioned the possibility. The NY Daily News says that Tex has been taking extra batting practice. It was also noted that most of the switch hitters in the Series are doing poorly, suggesting that the long delays between games, as well as the constant switching back and forth may be making it hard for the switchies to get in a rhythm. Makes sense to me.
So, starting with that, Girardi ought to switch the two hitters, to ensure that A-Rod gets as many at-bats as possible. I noticed it Monday night in the first inning, when Texeira failed to even advance Damon, let alone get a hit. I thought that the situation would arise later in the game when an inning would be extended or ended in Texeira’s hands. I didn’t think it would be the ninth, as the tying run, but it was, and Texeira looked terrible in failing to get the game into A-Rod’s hands. The time has come to make the change.
As for Pettitte going tonight, well, that decision was made when the Yankees went with Sabathia in Game Four. Once you do that, there’s no going back. They messed with Chamberlain until he completely lost command of his pitches, they have no trust whatsoever in Gaudin, and there’s nobody else. I think the Yanks get to Martinez tonight, but the game is in Pettitte’s hands. If he can’t keep the Phillies at bay, we’re gonna see a Game Seven.
The first two innings will be key. If Pettitte cannot command the strike zone, the Yankees are in trouble, because, other than the three starters and Rivera, there’s no one Girardi trusts anymore.