Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Why Red Sox fans hate Derek Jeter

With the All-Star break upon us and in the spirit of fairness (in actuality, I had nothing else to write about), I thought I'd try to explain why Red Sox fans (at least this one) have such a distaste for Derek Jeter and all he stands for.

Actually, the impetus for this rant was a result of the CNNSI article last week citing Derek Jeter's top 10 all-time great, game-changing, world-beating, nation-building (alright, I made the last one up) plays. Now I will grant that Jeter has made a lifetime worth of spectacular plays in just a shade under a decade, but that will not change the fact that he (at least in my Red Sox-slanted view) is still an overrated do-gooder.

I'll try to weave the CNNSI top 10 list in with my own personal thoughts -- and hopefully paint a convincing picture why Jeter should be banned from the game, but given my limited writing ability, who knows what will transpire. Either way, here goes.

Well, even before I can get warmed up, this silly CNNSI top 10 list is making my point for me. Nos. 10 and 9 on the list are Jeter getting an extra-base hit while subbing for A-Rod (it was the AL's first extra-base hit in two years, but still, how does that make a top 10 list?) and his stellar acting performance on SNL. Jeter is such a scrub that 20% of his list is fluff!

Hmm. After a quick perusal of Nos. 8 through 1 it looks like maybe Jeter is pretty good. In fact, maybe he's even one of the best shortstops in the league. Nonetheless, I'm undeterred and will continue forward to discredit him as the hack he is. Actually, I don't care if Jeter was Jesus Christ -- if he's playing shortstop for the Yankees I don't like him. I have nothing against Jesus (or Jeter) off the field, but when he's playing I (not so) secretly hope he strikes out everytime and every ball his way results in an error.

My true hatred for Jeter started in 1996 during the ALCS and he hit what looked to be a ball off the wall only to have a 12-year old miraculously turn it into a home run (it's number 6 on the list). It was then and there that I knew I was in for the long haul. And let me say that I don't hate everyone on the Yankees. In fact I actually like Tony Clark (ok, he was in Boston last year) -- but to be fair, I don't like anyone else on the team. I can tolerate Bernie Williams just because he goes about his business and makes plays, but I still don't like him.

Ok, I'm getting off topic. So we've established that Jeter sky-rocketed to the top of the "list of players I detest" (in fact, he was the only guy on the list) in 1996, but his antics in the ALDS in 2001 against the A's solidified a couple of things. First, I will under no circumstances every pull for Jeter to succeed in baseball; and second, Jeter is far and away, the biggest ass-kissing nerd on the planet. And before I explain that last sentence, let me remind you what happened in Oakland in 2001.

Remember when the other Giambi forgot to slide at home plate and Jeter, from half way up the first base line, flipped the ball Posada and tagged him out (and of course the Yankees made it back to the World Series)? Was that a great play? Without a doubt. But what in the hell was Jeter doing over near the first base line? Anyone who's played (or even watched alot of) baseball knows that there are no circumstances that necessitate the shortstop, on a ball hit to the outfield, cutting off a throw 45 feet from the plate up either baseline. Why was he there? He should have been watching the play unfold like the rest of the infielders -- at their positions. There should have been an investigation into why Jeter had the prescience to be in the exact right place.

In a perfect world Theo Epstein would trade for Jeter. And I don't even care what the Red Sox have to give up. If it takes Manny and Pedro and Schilling (and God willing, Millar) then so be it -- to quote Brodie Bruce, "that's a small price to pay to smite one's enemy."

And there's no way Jeter sees the field in Boston. In fact, my wish would be for him to be relegated to the bullpen as the bullpen catcher -- and if he's good, he can play catch with Trot Nixon between innings. And maybe giving up players like Manny and Pedro for Jeter seems like too much, but I think of it like this: If the Yankees are going to go the post-season every year, I'd prefer them to go sans Jeter (hence the Brodie Bruce quote).

Ok, maybe I've gone a bit overboard, but as a Red Sox fan, watching Jeter, who is so consistent, so steady, seemingly always coming through in the clutch -- it's enough to make you crazy. How can one guy come through time after time? I'm a big Nomar fan and I still contend that he's better than Jeter (and under no circumstances would I be interested in trading one for the other), but Jeter is much better at dealing with the pressures of being on the big stage (of course, I don't think he really experienced any negative media until this season when he started the season below the Mendoza line).

Now most of what I've written has been tongue-in-cheek, but as a Red Sox fan, given all of Jeter's accomplishments, his clutch performances, his game-winning hits in final at-bats, his game-saving plays in the field, I still feel it's my obligation -- my duty -- to hope he strikes out every time.