By In Stuff

Bronx Fans Bid Captain farewell (for now)

One of the scholasticists behind me said, “Let’s go. We’ve seen everything. I don’t want to spoil it.” This seemed a sound aesthetic decision. Williams’ last word had been so exquisitely chosen, such a perfect fusion of expectation, intention, and execution, that already it felt a little unreal in my head, and I wanted to get out before the castle collapsed. But the game, though played by clumsy midgets under the feeble glow of the arc lights, began to tug at my attention, and I loitered in the runway until it was over. Williams’ homer had, quite incidentally, made the score 4-3. In the bottom of the ninth inning, with one out, Marlin Coughtry, the second-base juggler, singled. Vic Wertz, pinch-hitting, doubled off the left-field wall, Coughtry advancing to third. Pumpsie Green walked, to load the bases. Willie Tasby hit a double-play ball to the third baseman, but in making the pivot throw Billy Klaus, an ex-Red Sox infielder, reverted to form and threw the ball past the first baseman and into the Red Sox dugout. The Sox won, 5-4. On the car radio as I drove home I heard that Williams had decided not to accompany the team to New York. So he knew how to do even that, the hardest thing. Quit.

— The last paragraph of John Updike’s Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.

I understand why Derek Jeter will play this weekend — for the fans who bought tickets just for him at Fenway, for the spirit of the game, for all that. But … that should have been the last at-bat.

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19 Responses to Bronx Fans Bid Captain farewell (for now)

  1. MikeN says:

    Worst defensive player of all time.

    • PhilM says:

      Most gratuitous comment of all time? As Jeter himself said yesterday, there’s no question that others had more talent: but also no question that no one worked harder than he did. Let’s not be petty, and honor greatness when we see it.

      • Dark Side of the Mood says:

        So you were there to watch his work ethic? I thought not. Hard worker? Most assuredly. No one worked harder? Doubtful.

        Let’s not forget he refused to move from shortstop when a much better shortstop joined his team. Not exactly a team first move.

        • I love this false narrative that Jeter refused to move when the Yankees traded for A-Rod. He was NEVER ASKED TO MOVE! No one has ever asked Jeter to switch positions. Ever. The only person that even talked to Jeter about anything was when Cashman asked him to improve his defense in the off season. And he did that after the 2008 season.

          You want to blame the Yankees for not moving him? Fine. Want to say Jeter’s defense sucks? Fine. But saying he is selfish for refusing to move is just flat out wrong.

      • Geoff says:

        Haha…are we really going to create a new narrative about Jeter not being that talented? I guess it’s true that Griffey, A-Rod, and a handful of other guys probably had even more “talent,” but can we please not pretend that the #6 pick in his draft (and highest drafted high school player) was some sort of underdog who willed himself into being a great player. I’m sure he worked very hard, just like pretty much every big league player works very hard, but let’s not go attributing more unsubstantiated character traits to him.

        Derek Jeter was a tremendous player who had a number of memorable moments in his career while playing for a great team. He’s the 5th or 6th greatest Yankee of all time (depending on how you feel about Yogi Berra), and unquestionably one of the top dozen or so shortstops ever. Why is that never enough for Yankee fans?

        • Chris M says:

          Because they’re jealous of their dads and grandfathers and great grandfathers, who all got to cheer for inner circle Hall of Famers, and they’re too dumb to realize that so did they, but it wasn’t Jeter, it was the guy he forced to play out of position that they all irrationally hated even before he gave them a reason to rationally hate him.

          • kehnn13 says:

            I think Joe needs a new term…Jeterhate…there are a lot of Jeterhaters on his blog.
            I get it, people feel that Jeter has gotten too much credit…but here- perhaps because of that- he gets way too little credit from so many people.
            And it feels like yin and yang – 2 antonyms that sound very similar- jeterate and jeterhate. If you want to have fun with it, you can even keep the h silent and let people guess which word you are actually using.

          • Yankee fans (like everyone else) had a rational reason to hate that guy forced to play out of position as of the eighth inning of game 6 in the 2004 ALCS.

  2. I think if this weekend was anywhere but Boston, Jeter would have made that his last AB.

  3. The thing about Jeter’s last at bat was that the Orioles had to pitch to him or they’d be lynched. How much more fun baseball is when you go after the hitter. Sometimes they’ll beat you, like Jeter did, or Jack Clark did against Tom Niedenfuer, and sometimes the pitcher wins, like Bob Welch did against Reggie Jackson (the first time). But to give the star a chance to perform, and see what happens, and not walk him to face some schmuck in the on deck circle, is so much more entertaining that managers ought to think about pleasing the fans a little more and less about micromanaging every at-bat. Just the other day, Mike Trout was walked with runners on FIRST and third (thankfully the move backfired as it led to a monster inning). Heaven forbid that the game’s most exciting player get a chance to hit in a big moment. Of course, the Diamondback’s (and now Orioles’) manager Buck Showalter once walked Barry Bonds with the bases loaded. I wonder if he would have walked Jeter if the Orioles hadn’t clinched the division, thus robbing baseball of a glorious moment that will be replayed for years.

    • Mike says:

      The schmuck was already at the plate. You’re not walking a .250/.300/.300 hitter to get to the next guy.

      As for whether that should have been the last plate appearance, or whether he should play this weekend… simple solution: have him pitch.

    • I thought Showalter was going to IBB Jeter as a giant “F U” to the Yankees for firing him after the 1995 season. Imagine if he did and told everyone that was the reason why he did it? Man the hate would be FURIOUS!

  4. Normally, in the a tie game with a man on second base and one out you walk a hitter to set up the double play. But everybody watching wanted to see Jeter hit. Showalter understood the drama of the situation, that a magical moment was unfolding, and let them pitch to Jeter. Baseball needs to embrace those moments, as do you.

  5. Michael Hickins says:

    Joe, for the first time I can remember, you have this wrong. Jeter played in Boston, was driven to play in Boston, for precisely the same reason Williams didn’t play. Ted Williams was probably the greatest player least beloved by his own fans, and his decision to skip the final three games of his final season helps explain that. Jeter was the ultimate do-the-right-thing-all-the-time guy, which is why he is so revered, and why he did it, why his not doing it would have been the antithesis of everything he stood for.

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