“It’s almost sad to see how fast [Jeter] has lost it. Everything looks slow, soft, old. I hate saying it, because everyone respects Derek. But it’s true.”
— An American League scout, quoted by Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record.
Klapisch’s article is a good one. Rather than just wring his hands about Jeter’s awful performance, he reminds us of the last time a Yankee icon simply lost it: 1951 and Joe DiMaggio. The difference, as Klapisch notes, is Jeter’s new contract hanging over everything. Should Jeter walk away if he can’t find his stroke this year? Is he even capable of doing so?
In thinking about this I’m struck by the notion that the air of professionalism and high-quality public relations that has served Jeter so well throughout his career now works to make his thoughts and motivations on the matter a mystery. Last year, when Chipper Jones was struggling he talked openly about whether he could or should continue to play through the duration of his contract. We’ll likely never get such public emoting about it all from Jeter.
Not that we deserve it. It’s his career and his life. But the mystery about it all probably does work to increase the public scrutiny, with our fretting about it filling the void that Jeter’s lack of public comment creates.