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.

Nationals fire reigning Manager of the Year Matt Williams

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.

Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.

Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.

His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.

Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.

Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.

Dan Haren plans to retire after the playoffs are over

Dan Haren
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Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.

At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.

However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.

Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.