Sunday, March 16, 2014

Jeter Month Continues

Well, it's still Jeter month, and the spectre of the Jeter love that will be spilling all over baseball this season is enough to make fans of the actual game of baseball somewhat ill. This one comes from Anthony Castrovince, an reporter. I know, I know, is just a mouthpiece for happy puff pieces, but this one takes the cake.

Jeter stays stoic in face of impending farewell tour

Gag. The headline makes it seem like he's facing chemotherapy or something, instead of a season of thousands of people kissing his high butt.

We don't really know Derek Jeter.

I can only imagine that some poor parent had to deal with that problem as some impressionable ten-year old who stumbled across the New York Post.

"Hey mom, why does Derek Jeter give away autographed baseballs to those ladies?" '

"I don't know, son, we don't really know Derek Jeter".

We know his feats and his impressive lack of public foibles. We know all about the World Series rings, the stats that will make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the moments that will make up whatever highlight reel serves as the standard.

Is Jeter's lack of public foibles all that impressive? I know he has played under close scrutiny in New York over all these years, so maybe it is. Then again, maybe after being on several World Series winning teams as a young player gave him the status in the city to have his foibles conveniently left out of the press.

We know that nobody who has played with or against him has even a harmlessly unflattering word to say about him. We know he's got a huge waterfront home down here with an annual real estate tax bill likely larger than your total mortgage, and, yes, we know he's dated or otherwise befriended some gorgeous girls over the course of two decades on the big league stage.
"Mom, what does or otherwise befriended mean?"

"I don't know, son, we really don't know Derek Jeter"

Even in an era of unfathomable finances and TMZ and 24/7, well, everything, 

&*&% the heck? What are unfathomable finances? Is Mr. Castrovince really so flummoxed by the state of the world in 2014 that he calls it an era of 24/7, everything? You'd think a man paid to write words could look a little harder for them.

he's been one guy you can feel pretty good about your kids adoring and emulating. That's legacy enough.

There are plenty of other players who you can feel pretty good about. In fact, I'd venture to say there are more players you can feel pretty good about your kids adoring and emulating than ones you feel bad about. It's just that the bad ones get notice. I bet on most MLB teams, 23 or 24 of the guys you can feel pretty good about. There are a dozen Sean Caseys for every Milton Bradley.

But we don't really know the man, and that certainly wasn't going to change Wednesday morning, in a big room full of reporters and cameras and teammates and 27 minutes' worth of questions and something resembling answers.

Good job linking the specific details to your thesis, Anthony!

"I still have a season to play," Jeter told us

Even that phrase -- "press conference" -- was not to be embraced.

Why the passive voice here? Who is doing this not-embracing?

"Media availability" was the preferred terminology, because that's something Jeter is annually accustomed to on the position-player report date, and no Facebook retirement announcement was going to change that.
Sounds like a good old fashioned euphemism to me. It would sound arrogant of Jeter to go to a press conference to talk about himself, so instead he went to a place where he would be available to the media to talk about himself. I don't mean to criticize Jeter here. I'm sure he has to do it. But it sure smells of spin.

And so they poked and prodded him with queries about any emotions that might be bubbling beneath the surface here on the eve of his final season in pinstripes. But nobody honestly or realistically expected the curtain to suddenly be pulled back and the inner "Bachelor" contestant -- the tears, the fears, the sneers -- to be revealed.

No, but that would've been awesome.

"I have feelings," Jeter said, believably. "I'm not emotionally stunted. There's feelings there. I just think I've been pretty good at trying to hide my emotions over the years."

"I have feelings," Jeter said, believably. Ostensibly Mr. Castrovince is an actual paid sportswriter who gets paid actual money to write about how Jeter talked so believably about an utterly banal statement true of every single human being ever except maybe Jeffrey Dahmer and even he probably had feelings they were just really messed up feelings.

An understatement if ever there was one, and that's probably what makes Jeter's particular exit strategy so surprising.

Here's where this article is about to go off the rails: Castrovince's utter naivete / hero worship is going to shoot through the roof. Hold on to your hats, people.

"I was shocked he was doing it on Facebook," teammate Ichiro Suzuki said through an interpreter.

Well, sure, that's part of the intrigue. Who knew Jeter had a Facebook page, for one? It's not like he's going to use the medium to show us vacation photos or share his "feeling" status, with accompanying emoticons.

But we know Jeter has feelings. He said so, believably. Can you believe Jeter doesn't post a Facebook status about his emotions? Of course he doesn't/ His Facebook page is almost exclusively about his charity work. It has tons of pictures of the smiling children that are benefitting from his millions. I'm sure, like most players, he doesn't write a word of it. It's just a way to polish his image.

But what's most shocking of all, perhaps, is that Jeter is willingly subjecting himself to the Mariano Rivera-like farewell tour and all the attention, glad-handing, marketing ("Captain's Final Voyage" seems to be the working title), and, yes, the gifts it's sure to contain.
How torturous! Can you believe Jeter is willingly subjecting himself to more praise and Corvettes? The media crap is already out there preparing for the tour. It's just shocking that Jeter would do this. Shocking.

All Jeter has ever wanted is a career free of undue distractions from his annual goal of winning a World Series,

Well, he's sure going to be spending a lot of 2014 dealing with the undue distraction of every team giving him a Rolex or something and celebrating him for playing a lot of baseball games. Obviously Jeter's retirement announcement (or speculation about it, if he didn't announce it), no matter how he handled it, would have caused some distraction, but it hardly seems like the method he chose was anywhere close to minimizing the distraction.

and that's why he was so adamant at controlling the tone and tenor of this -- ahem -- media availability. The reason he used Facebook as his parting platform, he said, was to have his message heeded in full and his charitable foundation highlighted, two worthy goals.

His letter only included one word about the charity foundation, but the letter was spread out over tons of pages of Jeter helping kids and stuff.

But there will be so many elements of this endeavor that are sure to be out of Jeter's scope of comfort,

I like how the opening statement We don't really know Jeter has been abandoned here, since we know for sure that all this attention is just going to make old Derek uncomfortable, since he really is a small-town boy who doesn't like any kind of attention at all.

because, as you might have noticed, we tend to like to overdo things here in the land of the free and the home of the Super Bowl.
I submit this encomium as evidence.

"I can't comment yet [on what the farewell tour will be like]," said Jeter, "because I don't know what that means. I don't know what's going to happen. I really don't know."

Astonishing of Jeter to not know about what's going to happen on the farewell tour as he was announcing his retirement. But that's not a big deal. No doubt Mr. Castrovince had to include a certain number of quotations from Jeter himself in this article, and he probably only had blandness to choose from. But get yourself ready for some really miserable buttkissing:

We should thank him, then, for the opportunity to say thank you and providing the heads-up that 2014 would be an awfully good time to come to the yard and see No. 2, if you haven't already.

I'm just going to highlight that bit:

We should thank him, then, for the opportunity to say thank you
We should thank him, then, for the opportunity to say thank you
We should thank him, then, for the opportunity to say thank you

Listen people, you can start thanking Jeter now for being so kind as to subject us to a season full of Jeter's last Tuesday-afternoon appearance in the Rogers Centre on deck circle updates. Otherwise what would we talk about? Actual baseball?

Reading that paragraph made me feel like I was witnessing a middle-school team statistician kissing the butt of the star of the team.

And it's not like anyone who hasn't already come out to watch the Yankees is going to be telling their children, "I almost missed it, but I'm sure glad I got to see a kind of over the hill Jeter play!" If they haven't come to see the Yankees in the last 20 years, I don't see the point in coming out to watch Jeter now that he's far past his prime.

Now for some writing that isn't so much overly sentimental but is just poorly executed:

For the Yankees, though, it's a situation that is not without its potential pitfalls. The prevailing pleasantry about Jeter's adieu

Holy alliteration! Holy synonyms!

has been that he's "going out on his terms," but that's a little on the presumptive side. His physical condition will dictate the terms, and that condition is a constant concern for the rare animal that is the 40-year-old shortstop.

Animal? I suppose it is a stock phrase, but is there any reason to think of Jeter like a zoo specimen?

There will be days when Joe Girardi rests him for the betterment of the bottom line,
Doesn't that phrase usually refer to money? I'm confused.

and some kid in the stands who has never seen Jeter in action will be robbed of that pleasure.

An allusion to DiMaggio's famous comment about playing hard for that kid? Only Joe D retired at 36, and actually retired on his terms.

Backup shortstop Brendan Ryan has said he's already preparing to "embrace the boos" that will come with his job.

I wonder what Brendan Ryan is doing to prepare himself to embrace the boos. Does he ask his family and friends to practice booing him, then setting a steely face? Does he watch old videos of him striking out or making errors? Does he keep a picture of the high school crush who turned him down for a date in his locker?

"[Jeter] has always made my job difficult when you want to give him a day off," Girardi said. "I remember him always yelling at Mr. [Joe] Torre when he wanted to take him out of games and [asking] how was he ever going to break Cal's [Ripken] record if Torre kept pulling him out of games. We want him in the lineup as much as possible. But we also have to make sure he's productive."

I'm not going to argue with this too much. Jeter will most likely end up playing the second most games at shortstop in MLB history. But this article suggests that Jeter's attitude was a lot less grindy than Girardi claims here. And of course Jeter should've stopped playing shortstop in 2004 anyways. But he did play a lot of games and that's no mean feat.

It says here that Jeter has been blessed with too charmed a life to run out of good mojo now.

@#$% the heck again? What "here" is Castrovince referring to? Is he holding an imaginary conversation with a midget in his head?

Maybe his career won't end with another World Series trophy in hand, because there are far too many variables at play.


But all any of us can reasonably hope is that the final ride is free of physical potholes.
I don't know. I wouldn't go so far as to wish misfortune on Jeter, but if he hurt himself tomorrow and was out all season and never played another game, I wouldn't feel too bad for him.

He's earned at least that and probably much more.


Jeter has also, whether he wants to embrace it or not, earned all the applause and adulation and alms and awards sure to come his way over the next seven-plus months.

No he hasn't. He hasn't even earned all of the applause and adulation that sportswriters gave him in the first seven days after his announcement.

At some point, there will be a farewell speech, there will be a final tip of the cap, there might even be a few tears from the otherwise stoic shortstop.

How stoic.

For now, though, all we know is that Jeter will soon venture into a life after baseball centered on his foundation's work and his hope of starting a family (no, we don't know with whom). And we know, most importantly, that he still has one more season in him, which is why, on a dais reserved for him and him alone, and on a day assumed to serve as celebration of all that was and all he is, Jeter paused mid-availability, pointed to his teammates assembled on one side of the room and said this:

Seven commas in one sentence: generally not a good idea if you're trying for any semblance of clarity.

"If these guys got to go to work, go work."

That doesn't make any sense.

We don't really know Jeter. But we do know that's what's most important to him

Gift baskets for one night stands, only playing one position at the expense of his team, and being celebrated and applauded on every road trip this season?


Chris W said...

You know this dog was hittin' all those P-words and then got stumped trying to come up with a P-sound for "Farewell" so he just gave up and went with "Adieu."

Then probably 5 minutes after he hit "submit" he was all like "AW SHIT! DEPARTURE!"

John Gulp said...

We should thank (multi-millionaire) Derek Jeter for the opportunity to thank him.

That's it. That's the worst sportswriting I've ever read.

Red Ruffensore said...

dan-bob, if you are planning on becoming an attorney like Larry Barrister you need to ramp up the rage. Nice catch on the use of the passive voice whatever that actually means.

dan-bob said...

@ John Gulp: Yep. Absolutely the worst.

@Red Ruffensore: (1) "Larry Barrister" is a great name and I will use it. (2) Would it help if I used words like "ballwasher" more often? I guess I can do that.

tony harding said...

Again, I know it's Jeter month, but please destroy this blog's namesake. He seriously just wrote a column where he takes credit for getting Obama elected.

Anon said...


Anon said...

I DEMAND that you somehow combine Jeter month with an annoying Grantland-style Jeter bracket. Maybe seed the 64 hottest babes he's boned, or the 64 clutchiest Jeter moments. Then all ten of your readers can vote on it in the comments and have inane arguments over the relative hotness of Jessica Biel versus Minka Kelly.

Donald Dickweed said...

The "all ten of your readers" crack was a cheap shot as you obviously forgot to count supportive family members.