The five men that went before Derek Jeter in '92

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jeter running out of box.jpgIn a recent piece for the New York Times, Tyler Kepner traveled back in history for a look at the 1992 MLB Draft, when Derek Jeter was selected sixth overall by the Yankees.  Kepner spoke to the scouts that drafted Jeter and others who were present and conscious of the Yanks’ thinking when the future Hall of Famer was snatched.  It’s a great read and a great story, especially when you consider the five names that came off the board before Jeter:

1st overall.  Phil Nevin – 3B – Astros: Nevin was a stud in college for Cal State-Fullerton and lasted 12 years in the major leagues.  He finished his career with a .270 batting average, 208 home runs and 743 RBI in 1217 games.  Now he manages the Tigers’ Double-A affiliate in Erie, Pennsylvania.

2nd overall.  Paul Shuey – RHP – Indians: The reliever had several quality seasons and finished with a 3.87 ERA in 476 career appearances for the Tribe, Dodgers and Orioles.  Of course, Cleveland didn’t draft him with the hope that he would turn into a mediocre middle reliever and he threw his last major league pitch in 2007.

3rd overall.  B.J. Wallace – LHP – Expos: Wallace was a strikeout machine during his days at Mississippi State University and had a superb opening season in the Single-A Florida State League in 1993.  But injuries plagued him often and he failed to ever reach the major leagues.  By 1996 he was out of baseball altogether.

4th overall.  Jeffery Hammonds – OF – Orioles: Considered a five-tool player when he was selected out of Stanford University, Hammonds shot quickly through the O’s system and made his MLB debut in 1993.  He failed to ever live up to the hype, though, and hung up his cleats in 2005 with a .272/.338/.449 career batting line in 957 games.

5th overall.  Chad Motolla – OF – Reds: Motolla didn’t debut with the Reds until late 1996 and played in only 59 major league games.  He’s better known for his success in the minor leagues, where he’s among the all-time leaders in hits and RBI.  Now 38, he works as a hitting coach in the Blue Jays’ system.

Some guys — and some clubs, really — just have all the luck.  Jeter, 35, has a .387 career on-base percentage, a .458 slugging percentage, 2,820 hits and 311 stolen bases over his 15-plus professional seasons with the Yankees.  He debuted in 1995 and is currently batting .301/.350/.435 with six home runs, 34 RBI and six steals in 242 at-bats.  This year’s amateur draft begins on Monday.  The Nationals, of course, are on the clock and are fully expected to draft 17-year-old catcher Bryce Harper.

James McCann is in The Best Shape of His Life

Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann blows a bubble while warming up during a spring training baseball workout, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Lakeland, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.

We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.

James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:

Spring training is less than a month away, folks!

Bo Jackson is not gonna change kids’ minds

1989:  Bo Jackson #16 of the Kansas City Royals practices his swing as he prepares to bat during a game in the 1989 season.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Last week Bo Jackson said that, if he had it to do all over again, he would have never played professional football and that he would never let his kids play. The sport is too violent, he said. “I’d tell them, ‘Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.’”

Fair enough. Thom Loverro of the Washington Times, however, thinks that Bo could do more than simply give his opinion on the matter. He thinks Bo should become an official ambassador for Major League Baseball:

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, pick up the phone right now and call Bo Jackson. Tell him you have a job for him — vice president of something, whatever you would call the man in charge of converting a generation of young athletes to baseball. And pay him what he wants.

You won’t find a better symbol of the differences between the two sports than Bo Jackson. After all, he was an All-Star in both. Bo knows football. Bo knows baseball.

Bo, tell the children — baseball over football.

The Children: “Who is Bo Jackson?”

Yeah, I’m being a bit flip here, but dude: Jackson is 54 years-old. He last played baseball 23 years ago. I’d personally run through a wall for Bo Jackson, but I’m 43. I was 12 when he won the Heisman trophy. While he may loom large to middle aged sports writers, a teenager contemplating what sport to play is not going to listen to someone a decade or more older than his parents.

This isn’t terribly important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s indicative of how most columnists process the world through their own experiences and assume they apply universally. It’s probably the biggest trap most sports opinion folks fall into.