Yakkin' About Baseball: One Last Derek Jeter Gift Basket

A frank discussion of The Captain, in preparation for what will probably be a less-frank year-long discussion of The Captain.
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David Roth: I feel like if I don’t start organizing my list of specific Things I’m Dreading about the Derek Jeter Farewell Tour, I will not be ready for Opening Day. I am, emotionally, not in the best shape of my life. I keep thinking about Fred Wilpon giving him a dusty Paul Lo Duca bobblehead in a pregame ceremony.

David Raposa: Oh, there is so, so much to dread. For starters, pie-in-the-sky testimonials and tributes like this:

David Roth: In an era of snark and negativity, Derek Jeter is the rare person who dated Mariah Carey and survived the experience without sustaining a serious diamond-related injury during a fight on a rented yacht.

David Raposa: We should start at the source. What should we discuss first: Jeter The Player, or Jeter The Person?

David Roth: Jeter the Spokesperson is the most interesting to me. He is so good at baseball, and so bad at seeming like a person in his car commercials. Grinning like a hostage, rocking the beltless Republican Uncle Jeans and a Hollister henley, sounding like he has never really spoken before. He’s all "a cool sunROOF?' Is that right? A cool SUNrooF. Check OUUUT my webSITE?"

David Raposa: Oh, to have been the giftbasket recipient that helped him run his lines. “Derek, sweetie, you look hot in that V-neck, but maybe try to loosen up a bit?”

David Roth: “Also, why are you dressed like Season Five Jerry Seinfeld? You have made hundreds of millions of dollars and somehow you look like you robbed an Old Navy seven years ago.”

David Raposa: "Thanks, Tiffany. That was really helpful advice you just gave to me.” /Opens door, gestures firmly to hallway

David Roth: “Don't forget to check out my website." /Hands her business card redeemable for an Edible Arrangements display

David Raposa: Only the semi-freshest shaped fruits for Derek's ladies.

David Roth: "It's a bunch of melon slices on sharp wooden sticks. They taste like cold water. Don't eat the strawberries, there’s something wrong with them."

David Roth: So, do you think it's even possible to assess Jeter in a meaningful way? Like, beyond the mythos and the sort of accumulated highlights.I tried at SB, and I don’t know if I quite did it.

David Raposa: Sure, it's possible, the way the existence of Sasquatch and the American middle class is possible.

David Roth: He’s so fogged in by sportscasterish grit-humping and myth that at this point the Classy Legend thing feels somehow more real than any of the actual things he actually did.

David Raposa: Yeah, I’m imaginging plenty of writers will go above and beyond in adjectivizing his leadershipitude and clutchiocity. And I can also see more pragmatically minded folks overreacting to those tongue-baths by taking him down more pegs than necessary.

David Roth: I am obviously dreading even the thought of the farewell tour. The Angels giving him his own private plane, Oakland re-gifting him a Mr. Coffee that doesn't work, etc.

David Raposa: Like a dude that raked in over $200 million over his career should be getting even more swag. Jeter should be given nothing but gift cards to fast food restaurants and bankrupted electronics stores.

David Raposa: "Cool, Media Play! Now I can buy that new Chingy CD!"

David Roth: "I'm sorry, sir, that is only redeemable for CD's with BIG VALUE/IF YOU PLAY IT, SAY IT stickers on them." And then points to a bin that contains exclusively CD's by JET and Ja-Rule: Unplugged In Fresno.

David Raposa: Leave it to Derek Jeter to actually find a Media Play in 2014. (That would be pretty clutch, though.)

David Raposa: Just realized Jeter's Yankeeography is going to be longer than Shoah.

David Roth: And much more somber, as befits the occasion.

David Raposa: A legitimate Television Event, simulcast on YES, Fox Sports One, Spike, and Pivot. It’ll be the millenial generation’s version of “Roots”.

David Roth: Or “The Stand,” at least insofar as I expect both to involve a mumbling Matt Frewer riding around on an ATV and Laura San Giacomo having a supernatural sexual encounter and a cameo by Uncle Willy from “ALF”.

David Raposa: Man, if any player’s off-field persona could’ve used some “ALF”, it’s Jeter's.

David Roth: That's the sad thing about him. He lived in the same apartment as Mariah Carey, and somehow there is still nothing strictly interesting about him. How he did that and was never admitted to the emergency room with injuries incurred from running afoul of Carey's "champagne cannon" I don't know. Like, shouldn't there have been some incident involving getting trapped in a Xanax avalanche?

David Raposa: Everything slid off that dude: Crazy exes, clubhouse drama, his obvious defensive shortcomings. Box seats sort of slid off his face.

David Roth: So the facts about Derek Jeter: a very good player on some very good teams. Probably about as good as Alan Trammell, much more likely to make the Hall of Fame.

David Raposa: Your assessment of his good-ness is spot on, though I'd go further and say that he was legitimately great on some great teams. I’d also say that his career was vaguely hurt by his being Derek Jeter. (If a guy with multiple World Series championships, a bevy of career milestones, and a legitimate chance to be a unanimous Hall of Fame inductee can have his career hurt by anything.)

David Roth: He got away with some stuff. He should've been playing in an outfield corner for, I don't know, six years? Although the team still won a World Series with him much diminished at shortstop.

David Raposa: Exactly. Being The Derek Jeter probably kept people from making the moves that should've made these last few years to help his career. Or it kept him from accepting that these moves needed to be made.

David Roth: There's a special #blessed impunity to being on the right side of the narrative. And it steepens the mock-slope on the other side.

David Roth: He is either a legitimate angel but with a better complexion than an angel. (Murray Chass saw his wings in the locker room, and still can’t believe how lustrous they are, and that no one in the so-called sports journalism field has the temerity to write about them.) That or he’s Deivi Cruz with a better Q Rating.

David Raposa: Here's another #HotTake: Him not moving off of SS when A-Rod became a Yankee probably cost NYY a couple of championships. (NB: My #HotTake was probably stolen from some ten-year-old Baseball Prospectus write-up.)

David Roth: I agree with that! Whether it’s yours or whether Jay Jaffe made the argument when George W. Bush was President, whichever.

David Raposa: You put the better defensive player in at the most important defensive spot in the infield, address 3B through free agency or trade channels…

David Roth: … go back in time and add Jar-Jar Binks to the first three Star Wars movies…

David Raposa: ...prevent Melky Cabrera from gaining a foothold in the majors and ruining the 2012 All-Star Game -- everyone’s a winner!

David Roth: The thing I guess you have to give him credit for is being the last truly opaque, old-style superstar. That is, Mickey Mantle was covered in the same way because writers didn't want to write about how he arrived at the stadium each day by being removed, dripping, from a giant barrel of bourbon, covered in moss and steak fumes and starlet-hair.

David Roth: But in this much more invasive age, Jeter somehow got the same treatment. He lived in Manhattan and dated exclusively famous people. Including, and forgive me if I'm belaboring this, Mariah Fucking Carey, who eats those Levian Chocolate Diamonds from Jared like they're bon-bons, and who is by this point 77% prescription medication.

David Raposa: Yeah, even the stuff that should've tarnished to his pristine public image -- cf. the Sex Packets that were the subject of our first Classical Yakkin’ -- is treated more like an inside joke among baseball wonks than some sort of character flaw.

David Roth: Somehow he is boring and all we know about him is that he sounds like someone in a proof-of-life video whenever he tries to talk about Ford.

David Raposa: Whatever Crash Davis type the Yankees kept in their farm system to school kids in the ways of MLB PR worked wonders: Every notable player that system developed during the Torre dynasty was capital-P professional and capital-D DULL.

David Roth: Is that somehow the thing that people want their baseball players to be like? Wax figurines in henley-style shirts that date TV actresses?

David Raposa: It might be the thing that (most) baseball players need to become in order to survive. Unless you're just ridiculously charismatic or some sort of media savant, it's better to just secure your personal perimeter and be a complete non-entity, at least when the cameras are on.

David Roth: It's just weird that Jeter could play here for going on 20 years and we know nothing about him. We don't know his politics or his opinions on anything, really. He likes very popular hip-hop music. He dates pretty women with straight dark hair.

David Raposa: He hates A-Rod.

David Roth: Eh, everyone hates A-Rod. Does Jeter even hate him in an interesting way?

David Raposa: Calling it "hate" is probably an exaggeration; it's more like "perturbed" or "slightly put-off."

David Roth: That’s officially the most human-seeming thing about Jeter, right there. He noticed that Alex Rodriguez is a weird dude.

David Raposa: Anyway, I imagine Jeter, inside his own house, once the steel gates clamp down, lets it all out. Like this SNL skit, but with less economic know-how and more “Family Guy” references.

David Roth: Oh man, the Secret Jeter. Now we're talking. Secret Jeter hates A-Rod because of a fight they had on Madonna's yacht. They tried to settle it with a "helicopter duel" but it didn't work and several of Madonna's personal assistants were very badly hurt.

David Roth: Or, like, behind closed doors he's running around like Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet, making Austin Romine sing "In Dreams" into a lamp while Swisher and Jayson Nix follow him around, laughing wildly at his jokes?

David Raposa: I want some Dark Jeter. He screams "Yankees win! Thu-uh-uh-uh-uh Yankees! Win!" over and over while lowering a basket with lotion in it down a well to mannequin-filled basement.

David Roth: "Would you jump-throw me? I'd jump-throw me. I'd jump-throw me hard."

David Raposa: "It puts the Driven on its skin, or else it gets the scene from The Other Guys again."

David Roth: "Heineken, FUCK THAT SHIT. Drink this Muscle Milk and CHECK OUT MY COOL WEBSITE."


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