Since the sporting press descended on Phoenix yesterday morning there has been a lot of talk about Derek Jeter’s absence from this year’s All-Star Game. Jeter was elected by fans, you see, so many — including some players and some reporters — think that he should be there regardless of whether he will play, rest his leg or whatever. There is a suggestion by some that Jeter is shirking his responsibilities as the game’s most visible ambassador.
It seems, however, that there is a reason other than having a better way to spend his time that is keeping Jeter back home. From Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox:
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter will not attend the All-Star Game due to “emotional and physical exhaustion” from his pursuit of 3,000 hits, according to two people with knowledge of his thinking.
My prediction: this will lead to a lot of people laying even more scorn on his decision to avoid the All-Star Game and a lot people saying “he should get over it.” My position: those people should probably be quiet and leave Jeter alone.
Jeter has done more than his fair share of baseball diplomacy over the years. He has always said and done the right thing even though almost any other mortal human being with an ego would have cracked at least once by now. He has done fan service, media service, team service and sponsor service. He has just gone through a stretch where people were simultaneously questioning his skills because of his play and declaring his greatness because of hit 3,000, often within a minute or two of one another.
Jeter is smooth and composed, but he’s also human. After nearly 20 years in the spotlight, he’s entitled to three frickin’ days off, isn’t he? Why are people getting upset about this? Why is Jeter catching flak here when there are dozens of other players who are sitting out too? “Emotional exhaustion” seems like a plenty good reason for me. At least for this man at this time. Indeed, he has earned the right by now to say he doesn’t want to go because there’s a good movie on tonight that he’s been wanting to see.
He’s Derek Jeter. I think he has sufficient goodwill in the bank to sit this one out without being killed for it.