Author: Craig Calcaterra

Derek Jeter

Must-Click Link: Derek Jeter opens up. Seriously, he really does.


This is pretty notable, actually. After 20 years of somehow managing the trick of being in the center of baseball’s spotlight yet revealing little if anything about himself, Derek Jeter has opened up a bit. Just a bit, but it’s still a notable amount. It comes in the course of this story by Chris Smith at New York Magazine, which goes into Jeter’s West Village home and provides us a glimpse of his life.

Among the highlights are friends and family talking about Jeter’s need for control and structure. About how, even at age 21, he was a mature and full-formed adult uniquely capable of charting the path he did, in which none of the things which trip up most young superstar athletes — especially those in New York — managed to trip him up. Maybe the biggest highlight are the numerous candid photos of him by New York Magazine’s Christopher Anderson in and around New York which are a preview for a full book of photos chronicling his last year as a ballplayer which will come out soon. They’re excellent.

Some great quotes from Jeter:

  • On reporters who say he’s a boring interview: “If I was giving them headlines all the time, I wouldn’t have been here for 20 years. But they ask boring questions. Give me a different question, and I’ll give you a different answer.”
  • On politics: “I don’t have to get into politics,” Jeter says sharply. “I voted for Obama. But another thing I realized is my job is as a baseball player, so I stick with what I know the best.”
  • On preferring Old Yankee Stadium to New Yankee Stadium: “It was a different feel . . . The old stadium, if you were at the stadium, in the stands, the only place you could see the game was in your seat. Now there’s so many suites and places people can go. So a lot of times it looks like it’s empty, but it’s really not. The old stadium, it was more intimidating. The fans were right on top of you.”
  • On Hal and Hank Steinbrenner’s relative absence from the team: “They’re not around as much as the Boss was. The Boss would pop in frequently during the course of the season. Hal and Hank, they don’t really come in too often.”
  • On Alex Rodriguez: “Jeter glares. ‘This is not an Alex story.’”

The quotes about A-Rod and Yankee Stadium and that he voted for Obama will get all of the immediate press here, but my biggest takeaway is that Jeter seems keenly aware of sports figures, teams and leagues increasingly bypassing traditional media, eliminating the middle man and reporting their own stories.

Part of this is just in the example of privacy and control he has set his entire career. Part of this is his comment about how reporters “ask boring questions.” But it’s not just that. He talks about the potential future of his publishing imprint which, in addition to conventional titles, will seek to “find formats that are suitable for personalities who want to reveal more about themselves without feeling too exposed.”

I have written about this sort of thing for several years now. More sports news is being broken by and even sports features are being put out by primary sources. The role of the reporter is becoming more narrow, with the rote things which take up a lot of a reporter’s time — telling us the basic facts, providing the lineups and game stories, telling us that a trade happened — being taken over by the newsmakers themselves. Newsmakers like Derek Jeter will not just allow someone to take photographs of him during his farewell tour, he’ll publish it himself. And I feel like that’s just the beginning for him.

Just about everything about Jeter seems smart. And, ironically, given all of the tributes and remembrances and retrospectives currently flooding the mediaspace, forward-looking.

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 7.55.58 PM

Royals 5, Tigers 2: Nori Aoki hit a two-run triple as the Royals salvage one from the three game series and, for now at least, salvage their AL Central title chances. Being down three and a half — with that half game pending in the form of the resumption of the suspended game against the Indians tonight — feels a lot harder than being down one and a half with the half-game pending.

Pirates 1, Brewers 0: The knockout blow to the Brewers, one expects, as they’re now four and a half back of the Pirates for the wild card. Vance Worley tossed eight shutout innings. Russell Martin drove in the lone Pirates run. Martin’s season: .297/.408/.442 is pretty darn amazing, even having missed a lot of time, especially in a day and age when offense sucks as much as it does.

Astros 8, Mariners 3: Jake Marisnick hit a three-run homer for the second day in a row and the Mariners drop two of three to Houston. Nothing personal against the Astros, but they’re a team you should take care of if you consider yourself a real contender.

Indians 7, Twins 2: Corey Kluber was outstanding again, striking out 14 for the second straight start. If you predicted that Kluber would win 17 or 18 games this season with an ERA around two and a half and that he’d strike out over ten dudes for every nine innings pitched, well, you’re a better man than me.

Dodgers 8, Cubs 5: Matt Kemp homered and drove in four. Yasiel Puig scored four times, while only getting two hits and not walking. Reached on an error and on a strikeout/wild pitch combo. The Dodgers treated this as a bullpen game, pushing back Dan Haren so he could face the Giants tonight. Six pitchers in all.

White Sox 10, Rays 5: John Danks took a no-hitter into the sixth, but he didn’t need to be that good with this kind of run support. At the time he gave up that hit he had a 10-0 lead. Avisail Garcia hit two home runs.

Mets 10, Braves 2: Jacob deGrom continues his wonderful run, striking out 10 in six innings in which he allowed only one earned run. Anthony Recker drove in three. The Mets have a very real chance of finishing the season in second place. As for the Braves: they were officially eliminated from playoff contention. Their practical elimination came a long time ago, however, and they’ve been playing absolutely putrid baseball. After the game manager Fredi Gonzalez said “Today we didn’t play good baseball.” Oh, “today.”

Red Sox 3, Orioles 2: The Sox take two of three from the O’s, who continue to rest multiple regulars a game in order to prepare for the playoffs. Joe Kelly was solid. Mookie Betts and David Ross hit homers.

Nationals 2, Marlins 1: The Nats aren’t letting up any, eh? They took all four from the Marlins. Stephen Strasburg tossed seven shutout innings. The Nats just completed an 9-2 roadtrip and now head home to close things out for the regular season.

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 2: Masahiro Tanaka returned to the mound for the first time since July 8 and allowed one run over five and a third, throwing 70 pitches. Best of all, he said he didn’t feel any pain in his elbow. Derek Jeter went 2 for 4. On the weekend he was 8 for 15 with two doubles, a home run and three RBI. Nice to seem him ending strong for the folks at home.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $45,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on MondayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Rangers 2, Angels 1: Ryan Rua hit his first ever homer in the top of the ninth in a tie game off of Huston Street. Not bad. The Rangers, by the way, have won eight of nine. The Angels, despite dropping two of three here, have a two and a half game lead over the Orioles for home field advantage in the playoffs.

Rockies 8, Diamondbacks 3: The Rockies have won six straight, the Dbacks have lost six straight and after all of that Arizona is back in the cellar and possesses the worst record in baseball. Been nice knowin’ ya, Gibby.

Padres 8, Giants 2: The Giants got swept by the Padres, which, man. They’re still in good wild card shape given how far back Milwaukee has fallen, but now they stand a decent chance of having to travel to Pittsburgh rather than hosting the Pirates, which is probably not anything they wanted.

Athletics 8, Phillies 6: A two-run walkoff homer for Josh Donaldson as the A’s take two of three to keep things from totally plotzing. Geovany Soto drove in three.

Reds 7, Cardinals 2: A three run homer from Devin Mesoraco and a solo shot from Jay Bruce in the eighth sealed this one. Bruce had two homers, actually. Contributing to all of this was the face that the Cardinals’ clubhouse had a stomach bug epidemic over the past day or so, making many relievers unavailable, so that all sounded like fun.

Carlos Beltran may not play again this year

Carlos Beltran Getty

Carlos Beltran has had a lost season in New York. The 37-year-old has a .233/.301/.402 batting line and 15 homers over 109 games, and has battled bone spurs in his elbow. While he had already decided to put off surgery on the spurs until after the season, there is a chance he is not going to play through it for the week’s final season.

Recovery time is from the surgery is 12 weeks, so it doesn’t matter if he has the surgery now or a week from now. But really, there’s sort of no point in him playing any more this year given where the Yankees are and where he is. And really, given the personal blow he and his wife suffered last week, one can’t imagine he is as focused on baseball as he normally is.

Must-click link: Tommy Harper and the Red Sox’ racist past

red sox logo

A great story at the Boston Globe today as Bob Hohler talks to former Red Sox player, coach and executive Tommy Harper, who talks at length about his experiences with the Red Sox’ troubled racial legacy.

From 1933 until 2002, when the team was sold to current ownership, the Red Sox were controlled by the Yawkey family and their surrogates. During that time the Red Sox were, quite famously, slow to integrate and in many ways the Red Sox organization mirrored Boston’s own unfortunate racial history. As Harper’s story shows, however, trouble with the Sox did not end with the team’s integration throughout the 60s. It lasted all the way until John Henry purchased the team.

There were bad scenes as he played for the Sox in the 70s and they continued on as he coached and worked for the Sox’ front office in the 80s, to the point where he filed a successful discrimination suit against the team in the 80s. In addition to the Sox’ awful hiring practices and willing failure to comply with anti-discrimination orders, during spring training the club would give passes to an private Florida club to white players while not offering them to blacks like Harper and Jim Rice. This went on as late as the mid-1980s.

Harper was fired by the Red Sox for pointing out the team’s bad acts. He then coached the Expos for several years. Then he returned in 1999, as his boss in Montreal — Dan Duquette — took over in Boston:

“I was told that everything about the Red Sox organization had gotten better,’’ Harper recalled. “I discovered it had not.’’

That same year, the Sox paid a financial settlement to a former manager of Fenway’s 600 Club who alleged he had been racially harassed by his coworkers and the team had failed to properly investigate his complaints.

For his part, Harper was particularly offended by the Sox hiring a former player, Mike Stanley, in 2002 at a coaching salary more than $50,000 greater than his, even though Harper had 15 years of major league coaching experience and Stanley none.

You’ll encounter a lot of people who pretend that racism ended in 1964 and who say that anyone who mentions racism today is “playing the race card” or is somehow being disingenuous. Don’t believe it for a second. This stuff went on with the Red Sox into the 21st century. It’s still going on in lots of places today.

Ryan Zimmerman hits an RBI triple in his return to the Nationals lineup

Ryan Zimmerman AP

Ryan Zimmerman missed 55 games with a torn hamstring. During that time the Nats didn’t miss a beat, taking the NL East title with ease in a spectacular second half of the season. But that doesn’t mean they’re not happy to have him back. And last night he showed us why.

Zimmerman had two hits, including an RBI triple in the Nationals win over Miami last night. He also got thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice, but cut the dude some slack, he’s been on the shelf for 55 games.

Going forward, Zimmerman is expected to play a lot of left field. Last night that gave Bryce Harper a night off, but Matt Williams said after the game that Harper will likely play some center and right field as well, ensuring that all of Washington’s starters get some rest as they gear up for the playoffs. Once the playoffs start it’s not clear what Zimmerman’s role will be, but he sure is showing that his bat is just fine. And you have to figure Williams would like the flexibility he provides.