New York Yankees Photo Day

Derek Jeter is not your anti-PEDs avatar


I have zero reason to think that Derek Jeter ever used PEDs. I’d personally be surprised if he did. As would I assume most people. But I also think that his use or lack thereof, absent any actual information about it, is pretty irrelevant to our consideration of him as a player. There’s plenty there to consider about the guy. God knows we’ve done a lot of that here in the past 24 hours or so.

But there are some people for whom Jeter’s actual track record is not enough. Some people for whom Jeter must be used as an avatar to fight the dragons and demons with which they preoccupy themselves. Bob Klapisch, for example. Who spends about half of his Jeter appreciation column going after PED users in general and Alex Rodriguez specifically.

Not only has Jeter served as the billboard of the beautiful war with the Red Sox, he has stood for success without chemicals, without the PEDs that Alex Rodriguez became so hopelessly addicted to. . . That would be Jeter’s last laugh on the steroid junkies, outlasting them all, outperforming their beloved chemicals.

Last laugh for Jeter, or for you, Bob? Because I recall absolutely zero instances of Derek Jeter inserting himself into a leadership or example role in the PED conversation the way you’d cast him now. If he had strong feelings about it he kept them to himself, just as he’s kept everything of actual substance to himself over the years.

In recent years Jeter has said all the right things — broad things — about cheating being bad. But in the past he also said things about supporting his teammates like Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi and, yes, Alex Rodriguez. At no time did he stand up in a union meeting in, say, 1999 and demand that the players submit to drug testing. He was like most other players who have not had PED suspicion about him: generally silent, but supportive of the way in which the conversation has progressed. He is not at all an outspoken leader like some other players. Rick Helling stood for success without chemicals, quite vocally. Jeter, as with most things, was cooler about it.

Which does absolutely nothing to diminish his standing as a player. The point is that all of that jabber like Klapisch brings up is beside the point. It is using Jeter as a means of fighting the battles he wants Jeter to fight for him, not for anything inherent in Jeter’s record or his legacy. It’s Klapisch’s way of trying to wrap up a morality play in which he is heavily invested with a nice happy ending. To use Jeter’s career as a referendum on people and things, frankly, Jeter probably cares very little about. Or, if he does, cares very little if you or I know about it.

Ultimately, using Jeter this way says a hell of a lot more about the people doing the using than it does about Derek Jeter.

David Ortiz and Kris Bryant win 2016 Hank Aaron Awards

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  (L-R) Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer 2016 Hank Aaron, Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred and David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox pose during the Hank Aaron Award ceremony prior to Game Two of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that former Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant won the 2016 Hank Aaron Award in their respective leagues.

Ortiz, 40, flourished in his final season, batting .315/.401/.620 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI in 626 plate appearances during the regular season. His .620 slugging percentage, 1.021 OPS, and 48 doubles led the majors while his 127 RBI led the American League. Ortiz also won the Hank Aaron Award back in 2005.

Bryant, 24, is the likely winner of the National League Most Valuable Player Award as well. He hit .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI over 699 plate appearances. He also led the league by scoring 121 runs. Bryant is the first Cub to win the Hank Aaron Award since Aramis Ramirez in 2008.

Last year’s winners in the AL and NL, respectively, were Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper.

Alex Rodriguez is taking his analyst role quite seriously

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees answers question in a press conference after the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on August 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

If you’ve happened to catch any of the coverage of the 2016 postseason on Fox and FS1, you’ve heard former Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez as part of an analyst panel with host Kevin Burkhardt and former major leaguers Pete Rose and Frank Thomas. Rodriguez has drawn rave reviews not just for passing a rather low bar we set for former athletes-turned-commentators, but because he’s adding real insight drawn both from his playing days and from doing research.

Indeed, Rodriguez is taking his new job as an analyst quite seriously, Newsday’s Neil Best reports. Bardia Shah-Rais, the VP of production for Fox, said of Rodriguez, “This is not a hobby for him. It’s not a parachute in. He’s invested. If we have a noon meeting, he’s there at 11:30 a.m. He’s emailing story ideas in the morning. He wants research. He’s almost all-in to the point where it’s annoying.”

Rose also praised Rodriguez, saying, “You’ve never been around a guy who prepares more than Alex does. Alex does his homework. He knows the game. He understands players. He’s into the deal . . . Frank does a great job in preparation, too. I’m the only one that don’t prepare as much as these two guys. I don’t know if that’s because I can’t write or what it is. But these guys do their homework and they ask questions and they ask the right questions and then you put that in with our experience, all the things we’ve been through and how good we get along with each other, that’s why it shows up on the TV.”

Rodriguez, who hasn’t officially retired despite not having played since the Yankees released him in mid-August, wouldn’t commit to more TV work beyond this year’s postseason.