Derek Jeter doubled last night, and now he stands two hits away from the 3,000 career mark, as the Yankees lost to Tampa Bay. Neil Best wrote that, in time, we'll forget the "negativity" surrounding Jeter's milestone run.
Agreed, and all the more so if the Yankees make the playoffs again. But it could take a little while longer, just because Jeter is under contract through at least 2013, and the Yankees have to deal with Jeter's performance issues.
Yesterday morning, at Hopkins International Airport, I was discussing this very issue with Sweeny Murti of WFAN and Jeff Spaulding of MLB Productions, who is the auteur behind the upcoming HBO special on Jeter.
We were talking about how most guys limped toward 3,000 hits, rather than bursting right through it. So what made Jeter's quest any different?
Context. It's all in the context.
Let's take Cal Ripken Jr., who paved the way for tall shortstops (like Jeter) to thrive. By the time Ripken picked up hit 3,000 on April 15, 2000...
1) He had moved from shortstop to third base.
2) His consecutive games streak had ended.
3) A slugger who batted third in his prime, he was hitting sixth.
4) The Orioles had deteriorated to the point where fans came to the game to see Ripken, fully at peace with the reality that he wasn't the Cal of old. The other 24 players might as well have been movie extras.
So there were no competing agendas here. Ripken could take his sweet time climbing up the all-time list, and no one would complain.
Jeter, on the other hand, is playing for the team with the payroll of over $200 million. Where the grand expectation, including Jeter's, is that anything short of a World Series title constitutes a failed season. So when he performs the way he has, and when Joe Girardi still utilizes him as if he's in his prime, then there's going to be scrutiny.
--John Sterling said he has no Jeter 3,000 call ready to go.
--Joe Torre and Dick Groch, the scout who signed Jeter for the Yankees back in 1992, were among those in attendance last night. There's also a note in this link that the Yankees held a moment of silence for Dick Williams, the Hall of Fame manager who died yesterday.
I got to know Williams a little bit during the late '90s, as he would come to Yankees spring training as one of George Steinbrenner's special advisers. He had calmed down some by then, but you could see traces of the fire that made him such a great manager. I'm not old enough to remember the 1967 Red Sox, but I loved watching Williams' Expos teams and his 1984 Padres.
May he rest in peace.
--As we figured, Mariano Rivera will skip the All-Star Game.
--The Mets lost, ending a four-game winning streak, but more important, they placed Jose Reyes on the disabled list. This is a significant disappointment, as David Lennon writes, because club officials were very pleased by the initial MRI.
Reyes' potential suitors in free agency surely will be closely monitoring how long it takes Reyes to get back on the field. Nick Evans took Reyes' roster spot.
And there are no secret contract negotiations going on with Reyes, both Reyes and Sandy Alderson made clear.
--Anthony Galea pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a felony charge of bringing unapproved drugs - including HGH - into the United States. As this New York Times story asserts, we don't know yet whether Galea will be compelled to share the names of athletes he provided with banned substances. Nor do we know whether these federal authorities will prove to be as interested in making the athletes look bad as Jeff Novitzky was with Kirk Radomski.
What we do know is that Carlos Beltran, Reyes and Alex Rodriguez all have been linked to Galea. So we'll just wait to see how it plays out.
--Finally, an absolutely horrific story from Texas, where a fan fell and died after catching a ball tossed to him by the Rangers' Josh Hamilton. Thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the fan, reportedly named Shannon Stone, a firefighter who had his son with him at the game.
This is the second fan fatality at a major-league ballpark this year, as this story reports; the other occurred at Coors Field in May. I don't know what, if anything, can be done to prevent these. But it certainly merits some study
--I'll check in later from the Stadium.
--UPDATE, 7:17 p.m.: You probably know by now that tonight's game has been postponed and rescheduled for September 22, which means that Derek Jeter now has two games to pick up his two hits. You probably also know that both Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have withdrawn from the All-Star Game, and that A-Rod underwent an MRI today on his right knee.
Due to time constraints at the moment, we'll address all of this in the morning blog post.