Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
Go ahead and check out Joe Posnanski's post on Derek Jeter.
FWIW, I think Poz is right.
The essence of the piece? Nothing about Jeter or his play, all about the 'failure to see truth' of some Yankee fans, and media hype. Call it the opposite of shooting the messenger ... here the sin IS on the messengers, and he's shooting the player. I don't think I've ever heard Jeter brag or boast about his fielding. I don't expect people to DECLINE Gold Gloves and surely Palmeiro's showed the idiocy of the award.
Brilliant plays in major situations DO get attention. Is this wrong? Al Gionfriddo would be unknown had he not robbed Dimag in a WS clincher game, Willie's center field 'miracle' was a worldwide miracle because it was a World Series (and early tv). Jeter behind first base to throw out Jeremy G was the same ... and remains the best play I have ever seen in baseball BECAUSE he had no business being there. Most brilliant plays in the game are physical brilliance, that one married athleticism with unspeakable instinct. (One commenter on Poz's blog says he should have been chewed out for it, he was just 'lucky' ... jeez!)
I have been 'on' DJ this year here ... mostly early in the year, and there are some indicators that all that baseball played (few games missed, every post-season) may wear him down a bit earlier than expected otherwise, given his skill set. BUT the Poz Diatribe is an unworthy piece of work ... let him go ahead and blast sloppy fans or golly-gee announcers, NOT the player for what THEY do! How exactly is the exaggerated rapture of the followers the wrongdoing of the athlete, a reason to berate HIM?
After all, the term he coins is jeterate - "to praise someone for something of which he or she is entirely unworthy of praise". That is, its not Jeter himself who jeterates, but the golly-gee fans who jeterate.
I understand that feeling. "The shovel pass" is the first (and for many of those golly-gee fans, the only) argument brought up about Jeter's defense. It sometimes makes me wince when I think about that play, which I should remember for its beauty and amazing-ness, not because some golly-gee fans use it to ignore Jeter's defensive shortcomings.
You were so reasonable, you made me go back and have another look. Here's my problem: yes, Poz is blasting the fansboys, but he is ALLOWING them to affect his response to the player and then he dumps on the player for it. Here's the headline, remember?
"Please! I wanna like Derek Jeter! I do!"
"So why is it that I'm often writing negative things about Derek Jeter? I realized Friday that it has absolutely nothing to do with Jeter himself."
But the whole article amounts to another negative thing about Jeter while essentially saying he is NOT doing that. This is why I called it cheap. Look here:
"They give him freaking gold gloves. They knight him Sir Derek of Defensive Wizardry because 238 years ago he tagged Jeremy Giambi and jumped into the crowd on a foul ball. You see what happened there. I completely went overboard again. This is what Derek Jeter does to me."
See, Shaun? Not 'what Jeter's FANS do to me...'
Ands then the last HALF of the piece is a sarcastic 'in the head of Jeter and the runners' (!) rant inspired by the YES guys going overboard on a standard practice play of staying alive on the bases and alerting teammates one will do so. Poz treats it as vainglorious, insult-his-teammates crap by Jeter and THAT is uncalled for. THAT is a slam at the player as an egotist, a 'hate Jeter' screed, NOT a hate-Jeterites rant.
And that was my point. He might say he was just being sarcastic about the 'fans' but that wasn't what he WROTE.
In fact, it usually is, in my view. Short of a major game (that was Boston) and situation, ruining your body is NOT likely to help your team, and I have a memory (anyone help?) that DJs play later in the year was allegedly affected by being pretty banged up on that foul ball leap.
But fans want it all ways here. I have argued that Torre's calm, his refusal to get visibly ruffled, was critical last year (and other times) in a season's success, and it MAY have led to an absence of short-series urgency once playoffs started. (I'm genuinely not sure.) I used the 'we play this game every day' line to contrast baseball from other sports where passion, fire, crisis are more a part of the winning makeup.
That means that players like Abreu or Garret Anderson (who NEVER dives for a ball and never has) are arguably being smarter, helping their team if they are cautious near a wall, staying healthy, in the lineup, delivering at-bats and rbis. But the nightly reels exalt the guy who crashes the wall, or dives in and breaks his hand (Vernon Wells). Jim Edwards, the poster boy for highlight catches, who kept injuring himself with them ...
It is, at the very least, complicated? A coach fires up his team by getting thrown out, a player abuses his body by hurtling into the stands making others want to be as committed, a pitcher protects a teammate by hitting someone ...
I'm not sure where I come down here, but I remember Alex Rodriguez calling that behind 3rd base catch 'the best play I ever saw' ... over the top, almost surely, but it probably DID send a Yankee-Bosox pay-the-price message.
Is it somewhat cheap on Poz's part? I can see that point, though I don't exactly agree with it. But give Poz this. He is upfront about the whole thing making him irrational ("You see what happened there. I completely went overboard again. This is what Derek Jeter does to me.").
Maybe Poz is suggesting, on a deeper level, that the problem is really with himself, and not Jeter?
5 Hate is a strong word, don't you think?
I don't think I've ever seen Wright play the field, but his Rate/Rate2 stats for last year (111/114) were outstanding. This year, he's pretty bad (89/90).
FWIW, in 2007, Ryan Zimmerman had a superior Rate/Rate2 (116/120), as did Scott Rolen (114/118), though in fewer games (~120 vs 150+). Amazingly, Aramis Ramirez topped them all (118/123!), though again in less games (~120).
So, its possible that Wright wasn't a deserving GG winner, but not because he was bad with the glove; others were even better. Compare that to Jeter, who was 93/95 in 2004 - just plain bad.
Looking closer, in the first 7 games after his dive into the stands, Jeter hit .321/.387/.464 - better than before the dive, but 7 games is a small sample. And again, that seems to be all AVG driven - walk rate the same, Isolated power down.
In the first 14 games after the dive, Jeter hit .293/.328/.466 - about what he'd hit for the 3 months prior; same isolated power, a little bit less walks, a few more singles.
This suggests the dive didn't affect him.
However, for all of July (excluding the 1st), Jeter hit .262/.309/.388. Does that mean the dive did affect him, just not until later in the month? Maybe. But it might have been the ASB that threw him off. From July 2nd to 11th, he hit .317/.364/.463. But from July 15th to 31st, he hit .226/.273/.339.
Finally, in August '04 Jeter hit .287/.354/.435 - a few more singles, a few more walks, a little less power than before the dive - and in Sept '04 Jeter mashed the ball to a .372/.430/.628 line. That suggests that the dive was done hurting him (if it hurt him at all) come September.
I've thought he should've moved when Rodriguez came on board. Then to CF after that. But Jeter isn't going to move until he's good and ready, so it makes no sense to me to get bent out of shape about his defense. At this stage of the game, it is what it is.
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