Friday, June 27, 2014

0 comments Lowell Cohn Forces Derek Jeter Into the Role of the Anti-PED Icon We All Needed

The Derek Jeter Over-Appreciation Tour is still going on. Don't worry. The face of baseball and the face of a clean, anti-PED player is still present and making the world a safe place to love traditional, old-school baseball where the players took amphetamines that in no way enhanced their performance rather than take PED's that did enhance the players' performance. Derek Jeter has become so over-praised that it's almost hard read anything about him at this point. To merely point out what a great player he was isn't enough. There has to be more. The writer has to go over the top and make Jeter into more than he may have wanted to be. He's not a Hall of Fame shortstop, he's the antidote to PED use, despite the fact he played on Yankees teams chock full of PED users. Even if his teammates didn't, Jeter played the game the right way. He's the PED icon that will save "the kids" from using PED's even though he couldn't save a fairly large number of his teammates from using PED's. Lowell runs the typical gamut of Jeter praise and tries to overwhelm the reader with new, additional Jeter praise. After all, Jeter can't just be appreciated, he has to be a deity.

The A’s are presenting a Derek Jeter tribute today, as they should. This is the last time Jeter will play in Oakland unless the A’s and Yankees meet in the playoffs. He turns 40 in a few weeks and he is retiring after this season and he’s on a farewell tour — just like Mariano Rivera last season.

Except Rivera retired while still playing at a high level while Jeter is one of the worst performing regulars in the majors. Nevermind the idea Jeter may have stayed one year too long. No sportswriter has the balls to question The Jeter or indicate he stayed too long. It's blasphemy and would not be tolerated.

Why is he important?

If you have to ask, then you don't know. If you don't know, then you hate America, babies, drug-free school zones, children who try to make a better life for themselves by getting an education, puppies, kittens, warm spring days, cancer survivors, a cozy blanket on a cold night, old people holding hands while in wheelchairs, and more importantly than anything else, you hate The Jeter. Ask why he's important? No need. If you have to ask, then you aren't worthy of knowing the answer.

For starters, he’s the face of baseball. Whatever it means to be the face of a sport, he’s it for baseball. It’s how he carries himself. With dignity.

Actually, the face of baseball would be 40 years old since it seems the sport is skewing older and older. That's not a good thing. I would think baseball writers would be eager to make a guy like Mike Trout the face of baseball, but the sport clings to it's past so tightly sometimes I think it becomes more threatened by the future when the real threat is the desperate clinging to the past it so reveres.

With class, although “class” is an outmoded concept in our times.

Yeah, it's been that way since baseball let all those foreigners into the game. Fucking foreigners all being not classy and celebrating their outstanding plays on the field. Babe Ruth didn't celebrate his achievements. He just went out and performed well on the field, did his personal sexy business with the shady ladies in private, and then had a few beers. That's class.

And when a man is the Yankees’ leader, he figures big in the national pastime.

Next year the face of baseball will be Masahiro Tanaka, which will piss Lowell Cohn off in some way I am sure.

You know the deal. He labored quietly at his craft, honored baseball while the bloated phonies made the headlines. The bloated phonies include Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Jeter’s infield partner Alex Rodriguez.

Jeter quietly labored and wanted nothing to do with bloated phonies like Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi who helped shape and build Jeter's legacy as a winning winner who only won when he needed to win. While these bloated phonies were cheating to enhance their own personal achievements, Jeter was using these bloated phonies to win games and World Series as a team. It wasn't about Jeter, it was about how Jeter could use these bloated teammates to win World Series as a group. It wasn't about just one person, but it was winning World Series on the back of his bloated teammates, which in turn helped Jeter's legacy.

There are a ton more bloated phonies, but those are the notable ones. Jeter was not one of them — is not one of them. I have no idea if he illegally took performance-enhancing drugs. But I doubt it.

Jeter was above all of this PED use. He wanted nothing to do with it and the very idea he is the least little bit complicit in his teammates' use of PED's is ridiculous. Sure, the entire sport was probably complicit in some way or another, but Jeter didn't have time to rat on teammates while laboring quietly at his craft.

Bonds so bloated he barely could field his position. Bonds so bloated you wondered if there was a human being in there. 

Jeter hits singles. He hits doubles to the gaps.

And no player who used PED's would ever hit a double or a single. Home runs are the only natural result of a player using PED's. In no way could PED's take a player from a strictly singles hitter to a player who had doubles power in the gaps, specifically to the opposite field. Lowell Cohn being the scientist he is, knows this is true. PED's cause home runs and nothing else. So a guy with little power who used PED's wouldn't turn into a doubles hitter. Not at all. He would turn into a 50-home run machine.

He does the little things, although calling what he does “little” does a disservice to him and the game. He plays baseball the right way.

He wears his glove on the correct hand and uses a wooden bat to hit. The right way. No other way.

Watching him in the batter’s box or at shortstop brings you back to the beginnings of his sport, to what baseball was and should be.

You mean back to the beginnings of the sport when Jeter would not have been able to play in the majors because he is half-black, half-white? Yes, seeing Jeter in the batter's box does take me back to when Jeter would have possibly had to play in the Negro Leagues. What a great memory.

Jeter is the healthy antidote to the fictions and the cheating of the bloated phonies which degraded baseball.

Lowell Cohn wants Jeter to be the healthy antidote to the bloated phonies. There are other players who are the antidote to the cheating phonies, but when discussing Derek Jeter, hyperbole and exaggeration must be used in order to overstate the case. The hyperbolification (not a word, I know) of Jeter's career has done more to ruin Jeter's legacy than it has done to help his legacy, at least in my mind. The lengths writers will go to make Jeter seem like the anti-PED poster child, the guy who played the game the right way, and the very best example of perfection in all things baseball overshadows Jeter's accomplishments that made him great. He becomes more of a fairy tale than a talented baseball player. The same writers who are dousing Jeter in hyperbole are telling the reader to not ignore what a great player Jeter was, all while skipping over Jeter's statistics and accomplishments in favor of hyperbole.

Not particularly impressive. But he is — or was — a great athlete. And he’s a genius at his sport. Oh, “genius” has been overused around here, although Jeter is one. Maybe “winner” is a better word. The ultimate winner.

Actually, the ultimate winner would be a player like Yogi Berra. He won 10 World Series titles. I hate to belabor this point, but stating that Jeter is the antidote to bloated phonies and also claiming he is the ultimate winner is perfectly fine. But for the sake of honesty, it has to be mentioned that part of the reason Jeter is the ultimate winner is because he won a few World Series with the help of the same bloated phonies that Lowell Cohn rails so hard against. I realize it's sac-religious to point out Jeter is the ultimate winner partly because of PED users, but unfortunately it is the truth. Of course when Lowell Cohn is drawing a thick line between the face of baseball and the bloated phonies, he will make no mention these two parties overlap in some ways. Sure, it would be honest, but it doesn't fit the intentions of Lowell's narrative.

Like what happened in 2001. Online they call it The Iconic Oakland Flip Play. I was there for the iconic flip and I never saw anything like that before or since.

I always thought Jeter's catch into the crowd against the Red Sox in 2004 was the better defensive play. It was dangerous, a difficult catch, and also showed his ability to make an outstanding defensive play. The Flip Play was great and showed excellent instincts, but I really think Jeremy Giambi is safe if he slides. This is obviously arguable, but while the Flip Play showed Jeter's defensive instincts I thought his dive into the crowd better described him as a player and was actually the better defensive play. 

Spencer threw the ball to home plate. It was not an elegant throw. It missed not one cutoff men. It missed two cutoff men.

This is not playing the game the right way. If Jeter were throwing the ball in this situation he would have hit both cutoff men. He would have managed to throw the ball "the right way" to where the ball would go into the glove of both players.

Flew over their heads. We’re talking Tino Martinez and Alfonso Soriano. When Giambi crossed the plate the game would be tied.

Yes, we are talking about Alfonso Soriano, noted defensive specialist at second base. The same Alfonso Soriano who was moved from second base to the outfield as soon as possible by the Texas Rangers.

He caught the throw barehanded in his right hand. Now comes the iconic part. As he sped into foul territory sprinting away from the plate, he somehow flipped the ball backhanded to catcher Jorge Posada who caught that sucker and administered a swipe tag on Giambi who never slid. The Yankees won the game 1-0 and won the next two games and eliminated the A’s.

I'm really not trying to downplay the backhanded throw, but Jeter is a shortstop. Shortstops make backhanded throws to start double plays, it's part of the requirements at the position. I'm not saying Jeter's backhanded throw wasn't great, but he was practiced at it due to having played the shortstop position for his entire career. 

Jeter’s play was extraordinary because no one expects the shortstop to be at the first-base line in case the outfielder misses two cutoff men. Jeter was heads up in the extreme and the play was and is a monument to athletic poise.

One can not disagree with this. Still, if Giambi slides I don't think this play will be talked about for years (decades, inevitably) to come. Nothing can take away it was a great play of course. 

Jeter had mastered the basics, had gone beyond the basics with the iconic flip. Giambi failed at the very basics. He didn’t even slide. And that means Jeter deserved to succeed more than Giambi. It was a case of the impeccable defeating the slovenly.

This is the type of thing I am talking about. Derek Jeter can't just make a great play on the field, his play has to mean something more than just a great defensive maneuver. The Flip Play has to teach a great moral lesson to our nation as a whole. Rather than let the play stand as a great defensive play by a Hall of Fame shortstop, it has to be much more than that. This is an example of where a sportswriter feels the insatiable need to hyperbolize Jeter's career and why Jeter's accomplishments get lost in the need to one-up other sportswriters to glorify him.

That flip has become the landmark play of Jeter’s great career.

His great play was a fielding play — it rivals Willie Mays’ catch in center field off Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series. Jeter’s play was all about smarts and desire and feel. He had a feel for the play, for the victory, for baseball.

Again, Jeter had a feel for victory partially because some of his teammates had a feel for using PED's. I'm sorry, it's difficult to hear Jeter described as the anti-PED poster boy and as a winner. He didn't use PED's, but some of his success is tied to the PED use of his teammates. This goes for other MLB players as well, but no other MLB players have sportswriters drawing such a thick, dark line between themselves and other PED users, while being referred to as "the ultimate winner." For any player who played during the Steroid Era, the line between the clean players and PED users isn't as thick and obvious as sportswriters want it to be.

Today, when the A’s present their video tribute to Jeter they will not show the iconic flip. Too many bad associations for A’s fans.

And you can feel sad, if you must. Sports memories linger.

Like a smelly farts, bad columns linger too. Hopefully these types of columns will go the way of Jeremy Giambi once Jeter is done with his Over-Appreciation Tour and is officially retired.

Whatever you do, remember Jeter as he deserves to be remembered. The common man who took the bloat out of baseball.

How did Derek Jeter take the bloat out of baseball if players used PED's the entire time Jeter was an active player? This is another good example of hyperbole used in reference to Jeter. He didn't take the bloat out of baseball, he was a baseball player who didn't take PED's. Jeter didn't take the bloat out of baseball because players continuously used PED's while he was an active player. Jeter didn't even manage to take the bloat out of his own Yankees team and part of his five World Series titles were contributed to by PED users. Stop making Jeter more than he truly is by using hyperbole and creating him into something he never has been.