Today is Derek Jeter’s 40th birthday. I have not done a ton of research into the matter, but based on the columns and tributes I’ve seen coming out of New York, I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that Jeter is the first Major League Baseball player in history to turn 40-years-old. That’s a pretty great accomplishment and we should all talk about how classy and winning a strategy turning 40-years-old really is.
But while no baseball player has ever turned 40 before — again, Jeter is simply incomparable — normal people can turn 40 sometimes. Take me, for instance. I’m 40-years-old. And I feel like that’s not the only thing Jeter and I have in common. I mean, we are both single. We both have less hair than we did in the 90s. Neither of us can move to our left that easily. We both have jobs that 40-year-olds don’t usually have and, being honest, if there were younger cheaper people capable of doing what we do better than us just hanging around, we’d probably be sitting on the bench. We’re just lucky to have found ourselves in the right situation at this point in our lives.
But I kid, Derek. He knows I kid. To the extent he cares — and I seriously, seriously doubt he cares one iota — he knows that people like me who like to make jokes about The Captain are really reacting to the Jeter Industrial Complex which has venerated him to the extreme, not to The Captain himself. That, when we stop trying to be snarky and actually allow ourselves a genuine bit of reflection, we know that we have been really damn lucky to see Jeter play these past 20 years. That while one can assign value to him statistically, make judgments about him objectively or simply count the number of championship rings he has won, the more subjective stuff about him — his consistency, his durability, his star power and his dignity in a world where dignity is often hard to find — is something that even people who would love to see the Yankees lose more often than they win can and do appreciate. There are only a handful of careers like Jeter’s in all of baseball history, and people around our age have gotten to see the entire thing, from start to finish.
So happy birthday, my fellow follically-challenged carbon-based life form who no longer sees Minka Kelly (you by choice, me by restraining order). Here’s hoping it’s a good one, in which no loud teenagers congregate around you lawn and in which no one asks you why you make so many weird noises when you sit down or stand up.
Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?
Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.
Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.