Jeter presser

Derek Jeter: “I still have a season to play”

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Derek Jeter met the press today. As he said in his Facebook post last week, 2014 will be his last season. But this wasn’t a ceremony or a retirement press conference as such. The team and Jeter referred to it as Jeter’s “media availability” which he does every spring, and Jeter did everything he could to make it seem like no big deal. Just the usual February meet-and-greet.

And while most of the conversation was about his retirement, it wasn’t like most retirement announcements we normally see. Jeter had no prepared statement. He said he said everything in the Facebook message last week. The reason? He didn’t want to be a distraction and didn’t want his teammates to have to show up for a formal announcement ceremony. He just asked for it to be a normal. “I still have a season to play,” Jeter said.

Jeter’s second question was about how he felt. He said “I feel good. This has absolutely nothing to do with how I feel physically. I feel great.” He said, over and over, that “the time is right” and that he just wanted to do different things with his life. He mentioned wanting to have a family some day. When pressed for reasons for his retirement he half-jokingly, but somewhat seriously, asked the reporters if they didn’t really read his Facebook announcement. Because that was it. Everything he had to say about it was in there.

Still, the questions came. And to some degree Jeter did open up. He said that a lot of his career had become a job in the past year. Not the playing — he said he still likes coming to the ballpark and playing — but meeting with the media. Answering the increasing questions about how long he can go on. He also referred to the rehab from injuries like he endured last year. And though he didn’t say so, it’s not hard to read in the notion that Jeter would expect to have more rehab as he gets older and that he wouldn’t much care for that.

A couple of reporters asked Jeter if he was emotional about it. He sparred with them — “what, are you trying to get me to cry?” he joked. And there were no tears. Jeter referenced the fact that he has always hidden his emotions to some extent, but yes, he has them. He’s not going to be emotional about it now, however, as he still has a season in front of him. “It’s not the end yet,” Jeter said.

But there were a few words that even the stoic Jeter must admit were more reflective of the end of his career. He was asked about being drafted in 1992 and how time has flown. He said if he had a message for younger players it would be to “enjoy it as much as you can,” and implied that he didn’t always do that himself, though such an approach “has always worked for me.”

2014 will be Jeter’s 20th season as a major leaguer. As he enters it, he has a career line of .312/.381/.446 with 3,316 hit, 256 homers and 1,261 runs batted in. He has five gold gloves and five World Series rings.

Jackie Robinson: ” I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag”

FILE - In this April 11, 1947 file photo, Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers poses at Ebbets Field in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Robinson's widow said Major League Baseball has yet to fully honor her husband's legacy. "There is a lot more that needs to be done and that can be done in terms of the hiring, the promotion" of minorities in the sport, Rachel Robinson said Monday, Jan. 18, 2016 during a Q&A session with TV critics about "Jackie Robinson," a two-part PBS documentary airing in April.  (AP Photo/John Rooney, File)
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One more bit of baseball via which we may reflect on the Colin Kaepernick controversy.

In 1972 Jackie Robinson wrote his autobiography. In it he reflected on how he felt about his historical legacy as a baseball player, a businessman and as a political activist. A political activism, it should be noted, which favored both sides of the aisle at various times. He supported Nixon in 1960, supported the war in Vietnam and worked for Nelson Rockefeller. He did not support Goldwater and did support the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He supported Humphrey against Nixon in 1968. He was no blind partisan or ideologue. When you find someone like that you can usually rest assured it’s because they’re thinking hard and thinking critically in a world where things aren’t always cut-and-dried.

As such, this statement from his autobiography, describing his memory of the first game of the 1947 World Series, is worth thinking about. Because it came from someone who spent a lot of time thinking:

There I was, the black grandson of a slave, the son of a black sharecropper, part of a historic occasion, a symbolic hero to my people. The air was sparkling. The sunlight was warm. The band struck up the national anthem. The flag billowed in the wind. It should have been a glorious moment for me as the stirring words of the national anthem poured from the stands. Perhaps, it was, but then again, perhaps, the anthem could be called the theme song for a drama called The Noble Experiment. Today, as I look back on that opening game of my first world series, I must tell you that it was Mr. Rickey’s drama and that I was only a principal actor. As I write this twenty years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.

Colin Kaepernick is not Jackie Robinson and America in 2016 is not the same as America in 1919, 1947 or 1972. But it does not take one of Jackie Robinson’s stature or experience to see and take issue with injustice and inequality which manifestly still exists.

As I said in the earlier post, the First Amendment gives us just as much right to criticize Kaepernick as it gives him a right to protest in the manner in which he chooses. But if and when we do, we should not consider his case in a vacuum or criticize him as some singular or radical actor. Because some other people — people who have been elevated to a level which has largely immunized them from criticism — felt and feel the same way he does. It’s worth asking yourself, if you take issue, whether you take issue with the message or the messenger and why. Such inquiries might complicate one’s feelings on the matter, but they’re quite illuminative as well.

(thanks to Kokujin for the heads up)

Former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is a sports owner once again

File photo of Frank McCourt leaving Stanley Mosk Courthouse after testifying during his divorce trial in Los Angeles
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There aren’t many major league ownership reigns which ended more ignominiously than Frank McCourt’s reign as Dodgers owner. He was granted access to one of business’ most exclusive clubs — one which being a convicted criminal or even a Nazi sympathizer cannot get you kicked out of — and somehow got kicked out. The clear lesson from his saga was that saddling your team with debt, using it as your own private piggy bank and exercising bad judgment at every possible turn will not get you drummed out of baseball but, by gum, having it all go public in a divorce case sure as heck will.

McCourt landed pretty safely, though. By sheer luck, his being kicked out of ownership coincided with the vast appreciation of major league franchise values and the expiration of the Dodgers cable television deal. He may have left in disgrace, but he also left with a couple of billion dollars thanks to the genius of capitalism. At the time it was assumed he’d ride off into the sunset, continuing to make a mint off of parking at Dodgers games (he retained a big piece of that pie) and not get his hands messy with sports ownership again.

Such assumptions were inoperative:

The soccer club has suffered from poor financial decisions in recent years. So I guess it was a match made in heaven.