From a Time Magazine story called “Baseball’s Derek Jeter Problem”
The Derek Jeter problem extends to all of baseball. Despite his shaky last-season performance, Jeter is still the most familiar, marketable, beloved player in the game. And right now, the sport has no one to replace him . . . According to Q Scores Company, among active athletes recognized by more than half the U.S. population, Jeter owns the second-highest “Q score” – a general favorability rating – trailing only Peyton Manning. The bad news: no other baseball player ranks in the top 15. “Baseball players aren’t even on the national radar for the general population,” says Henry Schafer, an executive vice president at Q Scores. “They’re just not out there like players from other sports.”
I would like to see local Q scores. I would also like to see what these scores said about baseball players in the mid-90s, when Derek Jeter made his debut. I suppose they all worried who would take Cal Ripken’s place as the Face of the Game when he retired.
[ RELATED: Derek Jeter’s career, in photos ]
While Derek Jeter has sucked up all of the farewell air, there is another legendary player — at least locally legendary — retiring after the final game is played on Sunday. Paul Konerko is saying goodbye after a magnificent 18-year career, sixteen of which were played for the White Sox.
Konerko played over 2,300 career games and posted a career line of .279/.354/.487 with 439 homers and 1412 RBI. He was a six-time All-Star, the 2005 ALCS MVP and led the White Sox to the World Series title that year, ending a drought that lasted longer than the much more famous Red Sox title drought. Of course, because Konerko never played in New York or Boston he never got the kind of supporting cast those teams could perpetually afford during his playing career and never got the same amount of hype.
But to a Chicago White Sox fan, Paul Konerko was just as important as Derek Jeter was to a Yankees fan. And even if he’s not getting the same kind of sendoff, he will be just as missed by the people who cheered for him.
Here he says goodbye to his fans. On Sunday, at home against the Royals, he will say it in person.
Jimmy Rollins wasn’t fantastic this season, but he did have a bounceback year of sorts while playing some solid defense. He enters 2015 in the last year of his contract and Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News spoke with him about his and the Phillies’ future. With respect to the team, Rollins thinks they can and should compete:
The man who helped propel the Phillies into a winner – first with his “team to beat” declaration, then with an MVP season to back it up – thinks the front office will continue to do what’s necessary to turn their fortunes around.
“We have enough money to,” Rollins said. “So you can’t say we don’t have the money to make improvements in the places that need to be improved, or where they can make them, whichever is the priority. We’re in a big market. A big-market payroll. So you have to go out there and make it happen.”
I wouldn’t read that as Rollins misreading the Phillies’ competitive chances. I would read it as a challenge of sorts to the front office to fix what’s broken and do what it can to reload with him, Cole Hamels and the rest of the old crew intact. I’m not sure if that’s a good idea, but there aren’t a ton of good options for Philly right now and, clearly, something has to change.
David Wright was shut down for the season on September 9 with inflammation in his left shoulder. Turns out it’s worse than inflammation: an MRI taken this week on the shoulder showed ligament damage. He’s on a strengthening program that is supposed to last six weeks. If that doesn’t work, he could have to have surgery.
Marc Carig of Newsday has an article today about why, if Wright has been ailing for a long time, he just had the MRI this week. And wondering if, perhaps, he and the Mets waited too long to do that.
David Waldstein of the New York Times has a good story up today about the conversations ballplayers have had with Derek Jeter at second base over the years. You know, the little bits of smalltalk after you pull into the bag following a walk and your teammate’s shallow single to right field. Everyone has them, but they are often different when Jeter is involved.
Like this one, involving Gordon Beckham, not long after he came into the league. He got to second base and said hello to Jeter, who said hello back. Beckham was star-stuck:
The next batter hit a ground ball to Jeter, who threw to first for the second out. Beckham, still distracted from the conversation with Jeter, thought it was the final out. He wandered off third and handed his helmet to the third-base coach. Mark Teixeira saw that and threw to Alex Rodriguez, who tagged an embarrassed Beckham for the third out.
I’m not sure how any player under the age of, say, 25, doesn’t get to second base and just go full-on Chris Farley-talk-show with Jetes, actually.
[ RELATED: Derek Jeter’s career, in photos ]