Derek Jeter is the master

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Not at baseball. I mean, that’s not news. Of course he’s a master at baseball. First ballot Hall of Famer and one of the greatest ever. You knew that.  I’m talking about his media game.

Take this story in the New York Daily News. Jeter, once again, being asked about A-Rod stuff. He responds to the questions. He doesn’t cut things off. But, of course, he doesn’t say a word, really. “It is what it is  . . .” “It’s a complicated situation . . .” “We know he’s not here  . . .” a lot of that, but not one thing that is a headline grabber. Not one thing that becomes sports talk radio fodder. Nothing that can be said to be controversial or provocative.

Which is by no means a criticism of Derek Jeter. Indeed, it’s 100% the right thing to do if you’re Derek Jeter because if he says something provocative the dozens of people covering Yankees baseball will beat it up and around and left and right for days. Jeter has never once, in nearly 20 years, given the media the opportunity to do that to him.

His ability to be both cordial yet totally non-controversial when it comes to this sort of thing is just uncanny. I mean, ask yourself: if you spent 20 years responding to people you knew had it in their best interests to get a rise out of you or have you say something silly, how many years could you go without spouting off at them? Without snapping at them? One? Five? Maybe ten? I bet no one could. Jeter has.

I say this with complete and utter sincerity: Jeter’s ability to play in New York as long as he has without ever stepping in it or getting into a dustup is one of the more amazing things about him. It’s highly underrated too. When he retires she should open up an athlete media consulting business charging jocks $10K an hour to team them how not to mess up with the press.

Max Scherzer will not be ready for Opening Day

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Ten days ago Nationals ace Max Scherzer said he’d be ready for the start of the regular season. “I’m gonna do it,” Scherzer said.

[Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice] — No, he’s not:

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team’s opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation.

He’s still projected to make it to the opening rotation, taking the hill, most likely, on Thursday April 6 against the Marlins. At least if the schedule doesn’t slip any more.

Scherzer, as you probably know, has a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, which has messed with his preparation and has caused him to alter his grip a bit. As of now Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day nod.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.