Derek Jeter’s 2014 season has been one giant farewell tour. Jeter, a 20-year veteran and a slam-dunk Hall of Famer, has been greeted with gifts and standing ovations as a visiting player at nearly every ballpark in which he’s played this season. That includes Tropicana Field, home of the division rival Rays.
The Rays lost 3-2 to the Yankees on Saturday night, thanks to Derek Jeter’s ninth-inning, tie-breaking RBI single. Rays manager Joe Maddon wasn’t thrilled at the amount of applause that Jeter received on his team’s home turf. Via MLB.com’s Bill Chastain and David Adler:
“It’s great, it’s great that it’s sold out, I understand that people like Derek Jeter — but you’ve got to come out and root for the Rays, too, you understand?” the Rays manager said after the game. “I mean, I totally appreciate what’s going on, but I’m not gonna sit here and defend all of that noise in the Yankees’ favor in our ballpark. I’m not gonna defend that. So if you’re gonna come out, root for the Rays. We’d appreciate that.”
Jeter added that the contest felt “almost like a home game”. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, “I’m not so sure I’ve heard his name chanted that loud at an opposing stadium this year.”
The Yankees secured a series win with a 4-2 victory over the Rays on Sunday afternoon. The 63-59 Yankees sit seven games behind the first-place Orioles, while the 61-63 Rays are 10 games out of first place.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?