HBT Weekend Wrapup

1 Comment

Hope you all had a great Fourth of July! In honor of our Nation’s
birthday, I
put my daughter in the cap of a defunct Canadian baseball team

before heading out to the Independence Day parade. And my birthday is on
Bastille Day, so yes, I am a double agent for Francophones the world
over. You got a problem with that?

  • A few weeks ago New York columnists wouldn’t know who R.A. Dickey was if he fell out of the sky landed on their face and started to wiggle. Now he should be an All-Star. Makes sense.
  • Carlos Beltran is coming back July 15th. Anyone with a brain knew this (i.e. after the break) was probably when he’d come back. Didn’t stop Jerry Manuel from telling people he’d be back weeks ago.
  • Not the best outing for Stephen Strasburg. He didn’t have his best stuff and likely pitched himself out of the All-Star Game. I think he was one of the few guys who looked pretty good in those white hats, though, and that has to count for something.
  • Manny Ramirez goes on the disabled list. I like Manny and all, but reporting on his every move seems like something we don’t really need to be doing anymore. In terms of relevance, it’s kind of like talking about the latest Blink 182 record or the next “Lord of the Rings” movie or something.

I’m all screwed up on whether or not today is a holiday. The libraries and banks and government offices are all closed, but my wife is working and my kids’ little day camps are open. Further screwing me up is that fireworks in my little village were Saturday — not yesterday — and the big fireworks in downtown Columbus were Friday — again, not yesterday. Basically, I’ve lost all sense of time, space and the calendar.

Whatever. We’re posting today. How much we post may be impacted by whether or not baseball’s newsmakers consider it a holiday and whether or not my temporal vertigo leads me to say “screw it” and start cracking beers at 2pm.  Either way, we’ll get through this together.

Derek Jeter calls Bryant Gumbel “mentally weak”

Getty Images
2 Comments

Derek Jeter has not covered himself in glory since taking over the Miami Marlins. His reign atop the team’s baseball operations department has been characterized by the slashing of payroll in order to help his new ownership group make more money amid some pretty crushing debt service by virtue of what was, in effect, the leveraged buyout of the club. A club which is now 5-16 and seems destined for five months more and change of some pretty miserable baseball.

Jeter has nonetheless cast the moves the Marlins have made as good for fans in the long run. And, yes, I suppose it’s likely that things will be better in the long run, if for no other reason than they cannot be much worse. Still, such reasoning, while often accepted when a lesser light like, say, White Sox GM Rick Hahn employs it, isn’t accepted as easily when a guy who has been defined by his hand full of championship rings offers it. How can Derek Jeter, of all people, accept losing?

That’s the question HBO’s Bryant Gumbel asked of Jeter in an interview that aired over the weekend (see the video at the end of the post). How can he accept — and why should fans accept — a subpar baseball product which is not intended to win? Jeter’s response? To claim that the 2018 Marlins are totally expected to win and that Gumbel himself is “mentally weak” for not understanding it:

JETER: “We’re trying to win ball games every day.”

GUMBEL: “If you trade your best players in exchange for prospects it’s unlikely you’re going to win more games in the immediate future–”

JETER: “When you take the field, you have an opportunity to win each and every day. Each and every day. You never tell your team that they’re expected to lose. Never.”

GUMBEL: “Not in so–”

JETER: “Now, you can think — now– now, I can’t tell you how you think. Like, I see your mind. I see that’s how you think. I don’t think like that. That’s your mind working like that.”

. . .

DEREK JETER: “You don’t. We have two different mi– I can’t wait to get you on the golf course, man. We got– I mean, I can’t wait for this one.”

BRYANT GUMBEL: “No, I mean–”

DEREK JETER: “You’re mentally weak.”

I sort of get what Jeter was trying to do here. He was trying to take this out the realm of second guessing among people who know some stuff about sports and subtly make it an appeal to authority, implying that he was an athlete and that only he, unlike Gumbel, can understand that mindset and competitiveness of the athlete. That’s what the “get you on the golf course” jazz was about. Probably worth noting at this point that that tack has never worked for Michael Jordan as a basketball executive, even if his singular competitiveness made him the legend he was on the court. An executive makes decisions which can and should be second-guessed, and it seems Jeter cannot handle that.

That being said, Gumbel did sort of open the door for Jeter to do that. Suggesting that baseball players on the 2018 Marlins don’t expect to win is not the best angle for him here because, I am certain, if you ask those players, they would say much the same thing Jeter said. That’s what makes them athletes.

No, what Gumbel should have asked Jeter was “of COURSE you tell your players to win and of COURSE they try their hardest and think they can win every night. My question to you is this: did YOU try YOUR hardest to get the BEST players? And if not, why not?”

Question him like you’d question Rick Hahn. Not like you’d question Future Hall of Fame Shortstop, Derek Jeter.