Man Time: Have You Heard of This Derek Jeter Guy?
Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game was last night, and you probably didn’t watch, because why would you? It’s a meaningless game, and last night’s affair was mostly about Derek Jeter, and a little about the stories baseball fans tell themselves.
Deadspin put together a super-cut of the 100+ times Derek Jeter’s name was mentioned on last night’s telecast. Please watch it. It’s hypnotic. It’s awful. It is part of baseball’s larger campaign to convince people that they are watching the swan song of a living legend.
Here’s another sloppy blowjob of Derek Jeter that’s making the rounds. It’s a Nike ad called “RE2PECT,” because things get more artsy if you put them in ALL-CAPS, and also, Jeter wears #2, do you get it now?
Even Boston fans have to tip their caps to the Yankee captain, he is that much of a living god made flesh, so sayeth Wieden+Kennedy! (Titles also get more artsy if you use plus signs and improper spacing). As a 10-year resident of Boston, yr Man Time correspondent can confirm that the Sox-fans-tipping-their-caps-to-Jeter thing has literally never happened. If you go to a game at Fenway Park, you will find multiple vendors putting their kids through college by selling “JETER SUCKS, A-ROD SWALLOWS” shirts. In the immortal words of Tommy from Quinzee, no one denies this. Boston fans recognize that Derek Jeter stole Tim Riggins’ girlfriend.
Here’s the thing: Derek Jeter was once a very, very good baseball player. He was a particularly good hitter, and after a slow start to his final season, he’s worked his way back to a respectable .272/.324/.322 batting line (sorry to get all technical on you here, there will be more dick jokes in the future, we promise). That’s really not bad for a middle infielder.
But it’s not the Not Bad for a Middle Infielder Game, it’s the All-Star Game. Jeter has never been a great defensive player, and at this point in his career, he’s downright bad. And while he’s still one of the better offensive shortstops in baseball, there are at least half a dozen American League shortstops who are hitting better than he is now.
Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright admitted to tossing meatballs down the middle of the plate for Jeter to hit in last night’s game. But Wainwright made a boo-boo, because Major League Baseball INSISTS that the All-Star Game actually matters, that the winner shall receive home-field advantage in the World Series.
The conclusion, then, should be pretty clear: Home advantage is definitely tangible in the NBA and a pretty clear in both the NFL and NHL, but in MLB, it’s pretty much a non-factor. In many ways, that’s rather appropriate given how much of a crapshoot the baseball playoffs are considered.
But the All-Star Game is not really about home-field advantage, and it’s not really about celebrating the best players in the game. It’s about celebrating the best-feeling players in the game, the ones your heart and your best intentions tell you are the best, even when the facts and the evidence tell you they’re not. And there are few things more American than that. TruckNutz, for instance, or the electoral college.
The American League won last night, and Derek Jeter got two hits, both of which were totally earned off of a very good pitcher trying his absolute hardest. Joan Didion was right: We tell ourselves stories in order to live.
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