Friday, October 31, 2014

An Overdue Roundup of the Worst of the Jeter Love

I'm sure you came to this blog today to read something that might make your day better.  Probably you came to read Larry's latest takedown of Simmons, and that seems to do the trick for some people.  But I doubt many of you came here with the intent to make your day worse. I apologize in advance, then, since this post drags up stuff that you had hopefully repressed by now, stuff that hasn't been in the news for a month now, stuff you didn't even want to think about back when it was news.  I'm talking about the ridiculous end-of-year Jeter adulation.  Yes, it was terrible, and if you watched even a few minutes of sports tv or read any sports websites in the month of September, you were subject to a cacophonous cavalcade of catastrophic commendation.

Hopefully we never hear from Jeter again, and he fades into the sunset until he is eventually elected into the Hall of Fame and we have to do another Jeter Month, which is something I'm looking forward to about as much as a car crash.  But it will have to be done, because everyone loves the steely-eyed shortstop so much that their brains turn to mush and they start spewing folderol.

Let's start with Jayson Stark: Ten Astounding Jeter Numbers

3,461. This, of course, is Derek Jeter’s hit total. And holy, schmoly, that’s a lot of hits. Heck, it’s more than Hank Greenberg and Shoeless Joe Jacksoncombined (3,400)

Way to cherry-pick the guy who gave up his age-30 to age-34 seasons to serve in World War II, as well as a guy whose career was ended partially because baseball needed a scapegoat.  Actually Hank Greenberg, in about half as many seasons, won two MVPs to Jeter's zero.  But that's giving the Hebrew Hammer some credit for doing things like hitting home runs, which is unfair because Jeter can't do it.  How about the fact that Shoeless Joe, in about half as many full seasons, led his league in hits as many times as Jeter?  Both of these guys were better baseball players than Derek Jeter.

2,673. Here’s another super-cool number. It’s the number of games Jeter has played at shortstop. And it's not only more games than Ernie Banks and Robin Yount played at short put together, but also the most games by any man in history who played one defensive position and never played anywhere else -- not even in the 19th inning, for one batter. Pete Rose played six positions. Ty Cobb played seven. Stan Musial played five (including pitcher). And Derek Jeter played one position. And only one. Now that’s how it ought to be done. 

This is a great number... to prove how much Jeter is a jerk.  In fact, Mr. Stark's conclusion here is totally wrong.  This is NOT how it should be done.  Frankly, when your team acquires acquires younger and better shortstop, you should move to third base, especially when he's actually better at fielding than you are.  

And besides that, the worst part about this paragraph is that Stark cites these other greats as examples of what not to do... Rose, Musial and Cobb shifted positions so they could help their teams put the best nine guys on the field. Jeter wouldn't even take a few steps to his right.  Not once, not even in the 19th inning for one batter.   

It's a disgrace that Jayson Stark is so eager to praise Jeter that he cites this stat as an example of Jeter's personal amazingness, as though it had nothing to do with his team. As though Derek Jeter personally had the courage and fortitude to only play shortstop for his whole career, while those other Hall of Famers were too weak to do so, or that Jeter was so astoundingly amazing the Yankees had no choice but to ever play him at shortstop for his whole career, even when they paid a quarter of a billion dollars to acquire a better one.  

Heck, you might even argue that playing multiple positions at a big-league level actually makes you a better all-around ballplayer. In my whole life I've never heard anyone equate playing more positions with being a worse player.

1. Finally, there’s this astounding number. According to Elias, it’s the number of games Jeter has played, in his entire career, in which his team, the mighty Yankees, was mathematically eliminated from some sort of race for some sort of trip to the postseason. One meaningless game in 20 seasons? Whoa. On one hand, it would be nuts to argue that was all Derek Jeter’s doing.

So then don't.  You have the chance here to NOT do that, but now you're going to go ahead and do that.  Terrible work here, Mr. Stark

On the other hand, what defines his career better than that? A man who lived for the big game -- and played nothing but big games. For 20 years. What better way to put a frame around the career of one of the greatest shortstops who ever turned a 4-6-3? 

I agree - a guy who consistently played for a really amazing team, a team with 20 straight years of consistently above-average to amazing baseball, and who benefitted, perhaps more than any player in history, from being a long-lasting above-average player who also happened to be surrounded by above-average players.  Has there been any other player who has benefitted as much as Jeter has from being on consistently good teams? 

Enough from Jayson Stark.  Here's a bit from Andrew, a guy who I think once actually posted something on this site.  He pointed me to a bit from Colin Cowherd on the radio: "Jeter was a .300 hitter, but he hit .350 every time he was in the world series . You don't see that with other players in other sports.Jordan didn't score more in the playoffs"

Andrew points out that Jordan's career ppg is 30.1, and his playoff ppg is 33.4. 

It's also worth noting that Jeter did not in fact his .350 every time he was in the World Series.  In fact, his career World Series average is only 12 points higher than his regular reason average, and that his career ALCS average is 53 points lower.  It's  also worth noting that one of Jeter's worst World Series performance overall was his only seven-game World Series (2001).where he hit .118 and did not walk. But I guess he did hit a clutch home run. But you'd think if he were so clutch, he might have helped his team a little more in that series. 

And just because I'm a glutton for punishment, I even went to and found an article by somebody named Tim Healey that could not have had a more inaccurate title, even if it were titled "South Wins Civil War" or "Larry B Ascends Stairs to Parents' Kitchen". It's called "10 Jeter stats that demonstrate his dominance". An accurate title would be: 10 Jeter stats that demonstrate his team's dominance" or "10 Jeter stats that demonstrate his longevity" or "10 Jeter stats that demonstrate his PR team's dominance"

1. Winning percentage: .593 Jeter is the leader in personal winning percentage (minimum of 1,000 games) among active players, his career record of 1,626-1,116 producing that .593 mark.

Ow ow ow ow this hurts my brain so much.  My brains are leaking out my ears.Someday I will understand why people care that Jeter is the leader in personal winning percentage, like he was playing tennis or something. Are we going to add "wins" to the stat column for position players, too?

3. Two hundred-hit seasons: 8. Gehrig is the only other Yankee to collect 200 hits in a single campaign that many times. If you want to use consecutive seasons as a tiebreaker, Jeter twice had streaks of three straight seasons with 200-plus hits, while Gehrig only did that once. (Gehrig fell two 1933 hits shy of a five-season streak.)

Fine, I know that hits is Jeter's marquee stat. And eight 200-his seasons is really good. But the ridiculous thing is that Tim Healey is going to great lengths to show how, in this comparison, Jeter is better than Lou Gehrig, without bothering to mention that Lou Gehrig's chance at a second such streak in 1938 was cut short by the unfortunate and unlucky fact that Gehrig was CRIPPLED BY A TERRIBLE AND DEBILITATING NEUROMUSCULAR DISEASE.  (Aside Try saying that last sentence in your best Norm voice, like this clip). If Larrupin' Lou had been as good as Jeter he wouldn't have let that happen.

Oh, and that Gehrig would have almost certainly had a five-season streak if he had the benefits of Jeter's era, because Lou was playing in a 154-game season. Duh.

News flash to Tim Healey: if you've found a stat that proves that Jeter is better than Lou Gehrig, you're using the wrong stat. Unless you want to use longevity stats to show how much better Jeter was, in which case you're being a total asshole to a guy who might have been given a bad break, but who by all accounts was a much better human being than Jeter was.

7. Parting gifts: 18

Obviously this is a terrible article, and obviously it is the worst thing I've ever read about baseball, but this is even worse than that. Somehow this stat demonstrates Jeter's dominance?

Jeter's early retirement announcement was a savvy PR move. It's the classic getting ahead of the story move, so he could control the narrative, and thus nearly all of the stories were about his historic career, and not his below-average season, which may have contributed to the Yankees' missing the playoffs. And it meant that eighteen teams oughta be ashamed of themselves for puckering up to Jeter and giving expensive presents to a multimillionaire.

I can't even finish this article because it, somehow, actually goes downhill from there.

It's ten AM and I'm all set for a terrible day.  Hope I've made yours worse.


John Gohde said...

I feel confident that we can get 500 articles pumped out the first week of spring training about how baseball just isn't the same without J2t2r. I have faith in America. We can do this!


Its one thing for lazy sportswriters to inflate jeters legacy, that's basically what they get paid to do. It's another thing for the Yankees to abandon their historical heartlessness and not ditch him back when Tulo was a free agent in 2010 (IIRC). That's when the Jeter love was truly outrageous.

Jack M said...

"Larry B Ascends Stairs to Parents' Kitchen"


Anonymous said...

Bat signal, Larry B - In Simmons' latest assault on common sense and people who enjoy sports, he defends Ben Roethlisberger's character on the grounds that he doesn't film commercials. Your country needs you, Larry, this duncery will not stand.