Deep Thoughts: Derek Jeter’s ceremony looked more like a funeral

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I think Derek Jeter himself has handled everything about his farewell tour perfectly. From his initial press conference in spring training when he basically told everyone to chill out and let him go play baseball to his speech yesterday which (a) avoided over-sentimentality; and (b) ended with the idea that, hey, we have to play baseball, he has done nothing for which he can be criticized. If he didn’t announce his retirement beforehand he’d be asked about it every damn day. That he did ensured that the Yankees and Major League Baseball would make a big deal out of it and he’s handled the big deal with, as always, the utmost professionalism

But man, that ceremony yesterday was weird. Not just that it was long or that it was somewhat over-the-top, what with people in space stations and sports stars from other sports putting in appearances. I mean, it’s the Yankees. Their motto may as well be “Go big or go home.” I’d expect nothing less from them.

No, it was weird because the visuals made it seem like a funeral. I mean, would you bat an eye if the first time you saw this wreath thing was at some point in the future when Jeter actually died and it was sitting on his grave?

source: AP

And the luminaries who attended, what with their dark suits and dark glasses in folding chairs:

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Didn’t they look like the first row of mourners at the Don’s funeral in “The Godfather?” All that was missing was Tessio coming over for a meeting.

This is almost over. And while it will be sad to see Jeter play his last game, it won’t be at all sad to see people trying to make it far more momentous and sentimental than Jeter himself would likely ever want.

Angels fire GM Billy Eppler after 5 straight losing seasons

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Los Angeles Angels fired general manager Billy Eppler on Sunday after the long-struggling franchise finished its fifth consecutive losing season under his watch.

Eppler was under contract for one more year with the Angels in an extension he signed in July with no public announcement, but team president John Carpino said the franchise will seek new baseball leadership after missing the playoffs for the sixth straight year.

The Angels have endured a historically bad half-decade during Eppler’s tenure despite many positive moves made by the former New York Yankees executive, all while dealing with the spending whims of owner Arte Moreno.

But Eppler was dismissed when the Angels couldn’t even make the eight-team AL playoff field this month. Los Angeles finished 26-34 in the pandemic-shortened season with a star-studded roster including three-time AL MVP Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani playing for manager Joe Maddon.

Eppler’s teams went 332-376 (.469) under three managers with a rotating cast of supporting players around Trout and Pujols.

Eppler didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

The 45-year-old Eppler took the fall for a decade of mostly miserable baseball under Moreno, whose penchant for handing out big-money contracts to older veteran players has repeatedly hurt his club since its last playoff victory in 2009.

Eppler began each of his seasons working around the 10-year, $240 million deal given by Moreno to Pujols, whose performance hasn’t come close to justifying the huge chunk of payroll taken up by the 40-year-old superstar for many years. Moreno also interfered in other areas, such as firing Eppler’s hand-picked manager, Brad Ausmus, after one season and installing Maddon last fall.

Eppler rebuilt a farm system that was left barren by former GM Jerry Dipoto, and he both signed Trout to a massive contract extension and persuaded Ohtani to bring his two-way talents to the Angels. Eppler’s farm system is finally bearing fruit recently, with blue-chip prospect Jo Adell, slugger Jared Walsh and infielder David Fletcher making impacts on the Angels this season with other prospects on the way.

Yet Eppler never managed to sign enough quality pitchers to prevent Trout’s Angels from being a perennial also-ran. Eppler repeatedly guessed wrong in his acquisitions from Tim Lincecum and Trevor Cahill to Matt Harvey and Julio Teheran, leaving the Angels with one of the majors’ worst starting rotations for much of his tenure.

The Angels still haven’t won a playoff game with Trout, who will turn 30 years old next August. The Halos finished the season by losing 5-0 to the crosstown Dodgers, who have won eight straight NL West titles.

Moreno doesn’t plan to discuss his latest franchise reboot publicly until Wednesday.