Trying something new again with the Assorted Weekend Thoughts this week: it’ll come at you as a series of smaller posts on a mostly-single topic (i.e. what normally would have gone under one sub-heading), rather than one big slog through it all that I don’t publish until 4:45 PM. Let’s see how this works, shall we? (Yes, we’ll get to the call-ups).
I guess I should have something to say about the whole Derek Jeter farewell tour stuff, eh? It certainly was a central part of the weekend series, and an especially a central part of three rather excellent JaysTalk episodes on the Fan 590, as Mike Wilner tried — not so much by choice, but because every single person, it seemed, wanted to talk about it – to straddle the fine line between “I think Jeter is a clear, inarguable Hall of Famer” and “I don’t think Jeter is as good as everybody else seems to,” with some hilarious results.
Maybe not quite Pre-Taped Call-In Show hilarious, but I still got a kick out of it.
This really isn’t the space to have a lusty debate about Jeter’s legacy, but I’m generally with Wilner on the idea that Jeter’s accomplishments don’t quite stack up to the myth that’s been created around him — and, really, it’s the myth, and not the player that Mike is pushing back against. Everybody acknowledges that Jeter’s career has been really, really good — to not do so would be absurd. Saying, as Wilner did over the weekend, that he’d take Jose Bautista’s last five years over any five year sample of Jeter’s career is less absurd — per FanGraphs, Jose’s last five years have produced 25.9 WAR, while Jeter’s best (1998-2002) come in at 27.0, and by the Baseball Reference version of the metric Jeter leads 28.9 to 26.9 over the same spans — but it’s maybe still a little bit out there, even for those of us who agree with the basic point it’s attempting to serve.
What Mike spent most of his time railing against, though — at least before he had to start defending himself from the confused masses, always looking for space to take a pot shot, acting as if they thought he was running the great hero down — and rightly so, was just how over the top the multiple standing ovations Jeter received this weekend seemed.
Fans pay for tickets, they’re allowed to do what they want, but my first reaction was… um… holy fuck, people.
On reflection, though, maybe I get it. Almost.
The big spectacle of a farewell tour thing is relatively new — or at least relatively rare — so it’s maybe more difficult to gauge what might be an appropriate reaction than those of us up in arms over it tend to believe. Mariano Rivera pitched out of the bullpen, so obviously it’s hard to compare the ovations he received to the ones Jeter did. I don’t remember such fanfare when Cal Ripken Jr. played his final games here, even though he’d announced in June of 2001 that he was retiring, while someone like Paul Molitor — who would have deserved all that Jeter got and more from Jays fans — announced in December of 1998 that he was walking away, so Jays fans never had a chance to give him this sort of send off.
For a guy like Jeter, it doesn’t hurt that there were so many Yankees fans in attendance — as there always are — or that we’re so close to the Yankees stronghold in Western New York. Or that so many pre-1977 fans in this area had been Yankees fans. Shit, for what it’s worth, I said myself at the start of the weekend that it would be nice to see Jeter cheered a bit, rather than being showered with boos by Jays faithful for the sin of being the most recognizable name in the visiting dugout.
I imagine the fact that he is one of baseball’s few active household names has a lot to do with the reaction this weekend as well. It’s easy to bitterly say, “Well, if he wasn’t a Yankee it wouldn’t be like this,” or, “They wouldn’t do this for any other player,” but I think that’s actually the point. He’s a celebrity. He is what he is. And fans here probably wouldn’t do it for anyone else. Ortiz? Pedroia? Pujols? Cabrera? Felix? I doubt it. Not quite, at least.
So I don’t exactly think it’s going to lead to a new era of Jays fans welcoming opposing stars with open arms. It’s an exception. Though it certainly becomes an off-putting one when it seems as though going to the Rogers Centre is like a damn trip to the cottage for Yankees fans — a rustic building by the lake where they can feel comfortable in what should otherwise be a hostile environment — or when Derek Jeter of the New York fucking Yankees gets a better fucking reception on his farewell than Carlos goddamn Delgado got when he returned for the first time after being lowballed out of town. And it’s certainly weird when Rogers, with their awesomely kinda-shitty gift, seemed to really nail the more-appropriate thanks-for-nothing response (I mean… Jeter can buy Banff if he wants to, right?).
But I don’t know… if people want to be a part of something, and they think its appropriate to salute an opposing player as emphatically as they did… uh… maybe whatever?