After resting on the sidelines for nearly six months, it would take an incredibly wicked villain to propel me to don the cape yet again and fight the lurking evil that is unintelligible sports coverage.
Which antagonist would push too hard before I finally accept the call to action? Would Colin Cowherd’s lengthy comparison of finding an NFL quarterback to brewing homemade coffee do the trick? That nonsensical analogy actually spurted out of his mouth, but I instead continued my drive to Wawa, got a sandwich and forgot about it.
What about our old buddy Skip Bayless? Surely he has uttered some nonsense about Tim Tebow deserving a chance to snatch New England’s starting quarterback gig away from Tom Brady, whose futility clearly came front and center with his two-interception performance in the AFC Championship Game.
No, my BS meter shattered after reading a month-old article from MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby about Derek Jeter’s rightful spot as the American League’s starting shortstop in this year’s MLB All-Star Game.
And no, there are not two Derek Jeter’s. This is the same one who has not played a single game this season due to an injured left ankle. Well zoinks, I’m dying to here how Ringolsby plans to defend this one.
So Derek Jeter is on the disabled list. So he had a setback and he’s not expected to play before the All-Star break. So what? Jeter is an All-Star.
Those all feel like extremely compelling reasons to fizzle his All-Star candidacy. The game intends to honor baseball’s top performers during the first-half of the season, and it’s hard to perform when you’re sitting at home piling up the same stats that I am.
He has earned it with his play on the field throughout his career and with his actions off the field.
Here I was thinking the 2013 MLB All-Star Game was meant to highlight those providing the best output in 2013. Silly me. Let’s just go ahead and put Roy Oswalt, Jamie Moyer, Andy Pettitte, Jason Bay and Jason Giambi on the rosters too. Those guys have all have great careers, and does anyone really want a see an able-bodied athlete who can turn to his left and field a grounder on the grand stage?
But I forgot that a player’s off-the-field demeanor matters more than his tangible, actual success on it. Hey everyone, I know Paul Goldschmidt is hitting .301/.383/.543 with 15 homers and Joey Votto’s .437 on-base percentage leads all National League players, but I hear Ike Davis is such a sweet kid. I know he was batting .161, the lowest average among all qualified batters and worse than some pitchers, before getting demoted, but he’s a real sweetheart who’s trying his best. Can’t we just put him on the team? I’ve heard he’s a bit down in the dumps after a rebuilding fourth-place team told him he’s been too awful to stay in its lineup.
It’s up to the fans to make sure it happens, though some may think otherwise.
The nerve of some fans to think that a player who has actually played this season should play in a game intended to be played by the top players. Did I mention he has not played at all? Not one at-bat, not one second on the field. Nothing.
Shockingly, the fans have avoided the urge to fuel Jeter to a popularity victory that Ringolsby desires. As of June 15, Jeter has garnered the fifth-most votes among AL shortstops with 669,698. J.J. Hardy currently leads the pack, beating out Elvis Andrus by more than .5 million votes.
Not to say that the fans are getting this completely right. At the moment there is a slightly more deserving adversary in Jhonny Peralta, who has ratified a dreadful 2012 campaign with masterful offensive productivity. Here’s how the players stack up (as of June 17).
Peralta – .329/.385/.481, 6 HR, 29 RBI, 31 R, 2 SB, .375 Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA), 2.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR)
Hardy – .264/.307/.461, 13 HR, 40 RBI 27 R, 0 SB, .331 wOBA, 2.0 WAR
Jeter – .000/.000/.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0 SB, 0 .wOBA, 0.0 WAR
* WAR courtesy of FanGraphs.com
Hardy has the upper hand in the traditional power numbers that frequently catch voters’ eyes, but Peralta is reaching base much more are still generating more overall power despite hitting fewer home runs.
As for Jeter, he has offered no value to the New York Yankees. While the other shortstops’ presences have generated two wins for their clubs, the Bronx Bombers are stumbling to maintain any output at the position without their captain.
It’s the same argument some made for Peyton Manning to win the MVP when he missed the entire 2011 season. His absence proved how much the Indianapolis Colts relied on him to annually frequent the playoffs, but how can anyone believe he provided the most value that particular season when he delivered absolutely zero value by not taking a snap?
Here where Ringolsby’s thesis veers even further down the road of ridiculousness. He actually wants us to feel sorry for the 13-time All-Star missing out on one of these should-be exhibition games.
At this point in his career, who knows how many more opportunities he’ll have to be on an All-Star team?
He’s already received 13 chances to play in the game. THIRTEEN. Does Ringolsby realize how many other shortstops have truly missed out on their only chance to bask in the glory of starting the All-Star Game because Jeter rode his name-recognition and spotless track record to a first-place finish on the ballot?
In 2011, Jeter was hitting .270 with a .353 slugging percentage prior to the All-Star break. Guess who started the Midsummer Classic at shortstop that year? It must have been Asdrubal Cabrera, who was swinging a scorching bat with 14 homers, 12 steals, a .293 average and .489 slugging percentage.
Nope, it was “El Capitan” due to all the narrative nonsense that old-school fans still in love with him bring to the table en lieu of rationality. It’s that undying love for his past greatness and all that intangible stuff that will lead him to another All-Star bid if everyone just waits a year or two.
As long as Jeter laces up next season without literally falling asleep in the batter’s box, he’ll probably get voted in for the 14th time. Don’t make him needlessly take the trip to Citi Field, where he’d be paraded around like a mascot, when he could be resting up his ankle.
Both Peralta and Hardy were on the decline before reigniting the flames in 2013. Peralta is a 31-year-old career .268 hitter posting personal-highs in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Hardy, who will turn 31 in August, is a career .259/.313/.461 hitter. This might be the last shot for either of them as well.
Then again, none of this really matters since Jeter will physically be unable to partake in the festivities anyway. As Ringolsby and anyone else with reasonable perspective will probably point out, I probably just used up 1,200 words for nothing.
As soon as he is elected, he will withdraw because of the injury, another deserving shortstop will be moved into the lineup in his place, and everybody will be happy.
Except for the part where you made a bigger mockery out of a game that is already a joke and wasted our time carrying out a pointless exercise. And set a precedent for other injured veterans to land votes over more worthy up-and-comers. And used an Oxford comma. Come on!
Oh, there will be moaning and groaning if Jeter gets elected. But there’s always moaning and groaning about something that happens with the All-Star voting. Don’t worry. Be happy.
I’m trying, Mr. Ringolsby. I really am. You’re making it a lot harder on me though.