Last night, in Game 1 of the ALCS, the New York Yankees lost an extra-inning game to Delmon Young and the Detroit Tigers. More important, they lost their captain Derek Jeter for the rest of the season because of a broken ankle. The news is devastating considering he is one Yankees hitter who is actually hitting. Alex Rodriguez is taking all of the heat, but Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson and others are doing very little.
The news is devastating to the Yankees and fans of the Yankees. It also is disappointing to fans who just want to watch greatness.
The Yankees will go on, and they may even be able to win the ALCS and even the World Series. But to pretend that losing Jeter and replacing him with Jayson Nix at shortstop is anything but devastating is just not understanding. As Toronto Star columnist Richard Griffin tweeted on Sunday, “Jeter is to Nix as gift basket+limo is to Skittles+subway token.”
It got me thinking again about what of the most perplexing things about some Twins fans. Why does Derek Jeter get booed so loudly when he comes to Minnesota??
I’m going to try to answer that question, or at least propose some ideas. Maybe you have more? Feel free to voice them in the Comments.
OK, we used to hear that one all the time, but when you can make a case that he is the greatest shortstop of all time, it kind of stops meaning much. The only shortstop in big league history that I think is probably a little bit better than Captain Clutch is Honus Wager, and his final season was in 1917. I think an argument could be made for the baseball of today being a little better than that of a century ago.
Of those playing in the last few decades, there simply aren’t many to compare Jeter to. Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra joined Jeter as AL shortstop beasts for a while, but Jeter has far outlasted them. Garciaparra struggled with injuries before retiring several years ago. Rodriguez moved to 3B when he joined the Yankees. While Jeter has played 2,585 games at the position, A-Rod has played just 1,272 games there.
Similarly, Hall of Famer Robin Yount played 1,479 games at shortstop before moving to the outfield when he played over 1,200 games. Ernie Banks played just 1,125 games at shortstop and 1,259 games at first base. Of course, Jeter’s career OPS (to this point) is .829, and Yount’s was .772 while Banks’ was at .830.
Cal Ripken is the one that we can compare Jeter to as he played over 2,300 games at shortstop before finishing his career with another 675 games at the hot corner.
|Derek Jeter||2,585||3,304/10,551||.313/.382/.448 (.829)||524/65/255||1,254/1,868||398 SB|
|Honus Wagner||2,794||3,420/10,439||.328/.391/.467 (.858)||643/252/101||1,475/1,739||723 SB|
|Cal Ripken||3,001||3,184/11,551||.276/.340/.447 (.788)||603/44/431||1,695/1,647|
|Alex Rodriguez||2,524||2,901/9,662||.300/.384/.560 (.945)||512/30/647||1,950/1,898|
|Robin Yount||2,856||3,142/11,008||.285/.342/.430 (.772)||583/126/251||1,406/1,632||271 SB|
|Ernie Banks||2,528||2,538/9,421||.274/.330/.500 (.830)||407/90/512||1,636/1,305|
“Because he’s a Yankee”
Jeter grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan and graduated from high school in 1992. With the 6th overall pick in that draft, the New York Yankees drafted him. He became a top prospect and was up with the team by September of 1995. He became a star, and like so many others throughout history, he has stayed with the same team. Kirby Puckett stayed with the Twins his whole career. Cal Ripken is synonymous with the Baltimore Orioles. The all-time great Yankees throughout history like Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe Dimaggio, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra all stayed with the team their whole career. Derek Jeter is a lifelong New York Yankee, and that’s the way it should be.
If you don’t like the Yankees because they spend so much money, well, I guess that’s cool. Lots of fans don’t, and that’s fine. But, Derek Jeter has nothing to do with those decisions.
“He’s a Winner”
In most places in society, that is considered a good thing, isn’t it? Has he been the sole reason for the five World Series championships (and two other World Series teams) that the Yankees have had in his career? Of course not, but no winning team has just one great player. Has he been a big part of those championships? Without question.
Jeter has essentially played an extra season in his career, in the playoffs. He has played 158 playoff games and hit .308/.374/.465 (.838) with 32 doubles, five triples, 20 home runs, 61 RBI and 111 runs scored. (By the way, in case anyone is wondering, those numbers are not included in his career numbers listed above.)
In the World Series, Jeter has been just as good. He has hit .321/.384/.449 (.832) in 58 games.
“The Media Loves Him”
Yup… and I can’t blame them. He’s great in interviews. He’s always been and shown tremendous class. He talks during good and bad times.
It’s like the Brett Favre situation, or Duke basketball. Since Tim Tebow was added to the New York Jets this past summer, they certainly fit into this category too.
I’m not sure what people want in these scenarios. What do people want Tim Tebow to do? Not be himself? Do they want him to become a jerk? Same thing with Jeter. Is he supposed to not act classy? Should he try to get in trouble with the law? He isn’t asking for all the extra attention, and he shouldn’t have to ask that people stop loving him the way they do. He’s put himself into the upper echelon of elite baseball players of all time, and he has handled it with class since day one. As a fan, that’s pretty impressive. As a parent, I would think he would be quite the role model for kids.
He has even won the Roberto Clemente Award for community service.
“He Dates Women that We Dream About”
Mariah Carey. Jordana Brewster. Vanessa Minnillo. Miss Universe (Lara Dutta). Scarlett Johansson. Jessica Biel. Jessica Alba. Minka Kelly.
Yup. He does. But let’s be honest here. If they weren’t dating Derek Jeter, they probably still would not have been dating you either.
“If we boo him, it will distract him!”
One of the things I’ll never understand is why home fans boo when the opposing pitcher throws over to first base on a pick-off attempt. It’s part of the game! I’ve been told that some fans do that in an attempt to distract the pitcher, and sometimes they take credit for a pitcher throwing wildly. The pitcher wasn’t distracted by the booing. He just threw wildly.
Maybe there are some Twins fans who think that booing Jeter distracts him from hitting. Well, in 52 games at the Metrodome, he posted a .779 OPS, and in ten games so far at Target Field, his OPS is .778. So, it’s not working. Overall against the Twins, he is hitting (in 125 games) .323/.388/.470 (.857) with 32 doubles, two triples, 13 homers and 57 RBI. So yes, he is better at Yankees Stadium than he is when hitting in Minnesota, but I would venture to guess that is not unusual.
“The Twins Can’t Develop a Shortstop”
Since Derek Jeter took over as the Yankees shortstop at the start of the 1996 season, the Twins have used 31 players at shortstop. It may not be all that impressive, but I think we can all admit that it isn’t Jeter’s fault. In fact, the #1 on this list came to the Twins because he was never going to get a shot with the Yankees. This is a fun list to review, if only to remember some futility.
Cristian Guzman (833), Pat Meares (433), Jason Bartlett (310), Nick Punto (248), Denny Hocking (243), Juan Castro (123), Brendan Harris (122), JJ Hardy (100), Brian Dozier (83), Alexi Casilla (77), Tsuyoshi Nishioka (60), Trevor Plouffe (55), Matt Tolbert (51), Adam Everett (44), Pedro Florimon (43), Jamey Carroll (37), Jeff Reboulet (37), Chris Gomez (17), Jason Maxwell (17), Luis Rodriguez (12), Luis Rivas (8), Augie Ojeda (7), Eduardo Escobar (6), Ariel Prieto (4), Cleatus Davidson (4), David Lamb (4), Brent Gates (2), Dave Hollins (1), Chuck Knoblauch (1), Jon Shave (1), Tommy Watkins (1).
“He shouldn’t have won (those FIVE) Gold Gloves”
You’re probably right, but he’s certainly not the only player to win a Gold Glove because of his offense. That happens all the time. Twins fans likely still remember when Rafael Palmiero won a Gold Glove at 1B despite playing just 17 games at first base (And the rest as a DH) while Doug Mientkiewicz was making all the plays with his first baseman’s mitt. He doesn’t have much range, but it’s not like Jeter is a butcher at shortstop.
Jeter was also the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year. He has played in 13 All Star games. He won four Silver Slugger Awards. In 2006 and 2009, he was the Hank Aaron Award winner as the top hitter in the league. Three times he has finished in the Top 3 in the league in AL MVP voting. In fact, many very wise baseball people made the strong argument that Jeter, and not the Twins Justin Morneau, should have won the 2006 award.
So, as Derek Jeter’s 2012 playoff runs comes to an end, I can’t help but ask, “Why do Twins fans boo Derek Jeter?” Why?