September 8, 2014

The older I get, the less tolerance I have for binary views of the world.

I won't belabor the general point. This is just Baseball Joe, for gosh sakes.

But I bring this up today because I just read Andy Martino's abject dismissal of the notion that if Derek Jeter were a better team player, the ultimate team player, he would have volunteered to hit lower in the batting order than his customary second.

Martino's chief evidence is some quotes from Raul Ibañez, including

“Players, in my experience, don’t walk into the managers’ office and demand to hit anywhere in the order,” says the 42-year-old Ibanez, in town with the Kansas City Royals. “That would be a very uncommon thing for somebody to walk into the managers’ office and say, hit me here. The lineup is not made by the player. The lineup is made by the manager. It is not the player’s responsibility.”

Well, okay. Managers making pitching changes, too. That doesn't mean pitchers don't ask to stay in the game, or ask to be removed. Players, in my experience of reading about players, often make requests or volunteer to do things. Granted, for all we know, Jeter went to Girardi months ago and graciously said he would be happy play wherever and whenever asked. If so, it's Girardi's fault for keeping a guy with a .308 on-base percentage in the second slot all season long.

But my beef here isn't with Martino or Ibañez or Girardi. My beef is with the notion that Derek Jeter is perfect. Martino offers a number of other quotes from Ibañez, and a nice one from Capuano, too. Just about EVERYBODY acknowledges that Jeter's been a great team player, a great leader. I acknowledge it. What I don't acknowledge is Derek Jeter's or anyone else's perfection. Does Jeter have no weaknesses at all? Is it truly impossible that he's been selfish for a few moments of his tremendous career, and that those moments of selfishness cost the Yankees a win or two?

Of course it's not impossible. Because Derek Jeter is actually a human being with some of the same foibles the rest of us mortals must deal with every day.