You don’t need to play in the All-Star Game. You just need to show up, take the field for a ceremony recognizing your 3,000th hit and enjoy the accolades that you richly deserve.
I’m not writing this because I work for FOX, though it certainly is in FOX’s interest for Derek Jeter, the face of baseball, to appear on the All-Star broadcast Tuesday night.
I’m writing this because an appearance by Derek Jeter is the right thing for the sport, the right thing for the fans who elected you an All-Star starter and the right thing for you, too.
Derek, fans celebrate you in part because you almost always make the right choices, on and off the field. Snubbing the All-Star Game because of a calf strain that healed almost a week ago would be the wrong choice, a rare misstep in a mostly impeccable 16-year career.
In fact, it would be such a wrong choice, I’m 99 percent sure that I will see you in Phoenix, 99 percent sure that baseball will not even need to pressure you to make the proper decision.
Hire your private plane, the one that provided you with that exclusive Tampa-to-Trenton non-stop service when the fields in Florida were too wet for a workout during your recent rehabilitation assignment.
Bring Minka. Bring your masseuse. Bring Mom and Dad. Leave your glove, bats and spikes in your locker at Yankee Stadium, wear one of your fancy suits and take off before the game is over.
Some fans and writers were outraged when you decided to skip the All-Star Game in the first place, seeing as how you have been playing — and playing quite well — since coming off the disabled list on Monday.
I understand you not wanting to play. People who criticize you for slowing down at 37 shouldn’t criticize you for trying to preserve yourself at 37. But the euphoria over your 3,000th hit and 5-for-5 performance on Saturday changed everything.
It was a classic Jeter moment, a throwback to the days not long ago when you could do no wrong. Baseball fans everywhere, even Yankee haters, had to smile. And now those fans want to see you on the big stage, taking a bow, waving to the crowd, showing your usual grace.
It’s such an easy call, I’ll bet you’re making your travel plans, if you haven’t completed them already.