Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Derek Jeter is Smelly and Stupid

In a perfect world, I wouldn't hate Derek Jeter. No one would. But no one would particularly love him, either. He would be remembered as an above-average hitting and below-average fielding short stop who put together a nice career (and by saying his defense is below-average is putting it nicely: his fielding is easily outshone by Adam Everett. Who? Exactly). But as Will Leitch so excellently points out, he's not allowed to be just another ball player. Instead, somewhere along the line, Jeter became representative of everything that gives Bob Costas a tiny li'l boner, and sports writers have made him into an emblem of everything the sport is supposed to be. And of course, the fact that he plays in the nation's largest media market has everything to do with his veneration. As Drew Magary points out, it's not just that Jeter allows the old fossils who write about baseball to wax rhapsodic about a better time in the game (you know, the time when those uppity negroes weren't allowed in, when popping amphetamines was just part of business, and when being a violent, racist alcoholic made you into a legend), but he also allows New Yorkers to jerk themselves off to how wonderful and special New york city is.

So instead of being treated like the overall slightly-above-average player he is, he has been turned into a demigod. One so important that the entirety of last night's All Star game was dedicated to him. A man so above the game that the announcing crew in the booth had already awarded him the MVP in the first inning, and could barely contain their disgust when the award was actually given to a deserving player. A man so important that while Glenn Perkins was pitching a perfect 9th inning for the game-winning save while playing for his home-town team in his home-town stadium, the on-field performance is completely ignored so we can continue to discuss number 2. A man so God-like that the opposing pitcher had to apologize in-game for having the audacity to admit what everyone knew: that he threw the old man (who is hitting terribly this season) an easy pitch so he could get a hit in his last All Star game. But no, to admit he did what everyone was expecting him to do and what everyone clearly saw him do with their own eyes would be to diminish the achievements of THE CAPTAIN©.

And this is why the man is so hated by large swaths of America (and why one beautiful fan made all of Minnesota proud by chanting "Over-rated!" loud enough for the cameras to pick up before Jeet's first at-bat). Because anyone who knows anything about how baseball and especially the baseball media work, knows that had Jeter played for the Twins (or the Astros, or the Brewers, or the White Sox, or the Mariners, etc.) that he would never be venerated to this extent. Instead, he might actually be judged fairly, seen as a pretty good player who stuck around for a long time, thus allowing him to pile up gaudy career stats (though had he not played for such a stacked NY team that allowed him over a hundred more at-bats per season than the average player, he probably never would have put up such numbers).

But he isn't judged fairly. He's THE CAPTAIN. He's Number 2. He's the guy you're supposed RE2PECT (I believe it's pronounced "re-two-pect," but I could be wrong). So the rest of us, the ones who see the player instead of the mythical God, grow weary of the constant praise. Eventually the weariness turns to exhaustion, the exhaustion to frustration, and the frustration to hate. So to all you Jeter-fanatics, it's your fault we hate him.

Hilariously Perfect Update:
Multiple outlets have complained that during the All Star game there was no tribute to Tony Gwynn, an all-time great who passed away recently. Well, apparently there was no tribute because Major League Baseball "did not want to slight anyone by singling out one individual." In completely un-related news, Derek Jeter was mentioned a mere 100 times during that same broadcast.

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