A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hank Aaron

I get it.
There's always a sense of exhaustion when so much happens in so little time, and we just want our time off to be away from it and not think about things that are going on and have happened. In most of what passes for life, it's all good, and it's the way it should be...
Unless the fans are voting for you to be an All Star, and they expect to see you giving your all amongst the other great players from your generation.
Which brings us to Derek Jeter.
He's been doing it since 1996, which might seem old hat, but consider that he plays in the Big Apple. He plays for the Yankees. He's a "bi-racial angel" (at least according to the movie The Other Guys). He just got to 3,000 hits (in a 5-5 game against the Tampa Bay Rays' David Price in which hit 3,000 was a home run - oh, and he had the game winning hit). He does have a super hot gal pal (Minka Kelly) who he most likely wants some time with to get a little bit of lovin', but he is one of the pre-eminent baseball players of his generation and his fans invited him to the game (to start no less!), so shouldn't he be there?
He was 6 for 9 in his last 2 game with a double, home run, 2 RBIs, and a stolen base. He had the game-winning hit when he came through big on Saturday. That's what he does. That's why the fans love him. And even a certified Yankee hater like myself who self hatingly has to admit that he doesn't hate Jeter anymore but somehow feels a degree of respect for him is now forced to think back on the days of old and sum up that old A-Rod style hate for Jeter (and we all know what the chances of sending a get well soon card to A-Rod is going to be for his surgery).
This whole All Star sit out thing has me upset to the point that I now have to wonder about Jeter's situation (so convenient because it allowed for him to get the hit at home instead of on the road). And I'm not here to make conspiracy theory seem real because that isn't what this is about, but it is about a man who should be giving the game a chance to celebrate it's past, present, and future, but instead, he thinks that he's above the fans. Hopefully, they'll leave him off the ballots in his final 2 years. We'll see if the Yankees feel obligated to him beyond the contract he's in now.
Hank Aaron said it best:
“There is a commitment I think that players have. At least it ought to seem like it’s a commitment. It is a game that belongs [to the fan]. I was privileged to play in 23 [All-Star Games] in the first one as much as I was the 23rd one. So I feel like these players should deem it’s a privilege. It’s their game; it belongs to them. And it’s a privilege when you can go out there when you can stand next to stars that you performed against and with. … Sometimes I think that some of the players take for granted that these things are going to go on forever.”

In response to stepping up to speak to the players about their attitudes towards today's game:
“I would be willing to speak and tell them the importance of this game … sure I would. It matters to me that baseball keeps going in the direction that it’s going in and I think that the All-Star Game is one part of baseball that we need to keep improving on. … The only way you’re going to improve upon them is if these guys are going to take out of their busy schedules and come here in play in these games.”

In response to making pitchers who were picked show up at the game:
“I don’t know so much about that. … But I do know one thing, if he pitched in the game on Sunday but was nominated to come to the game, he would come here just to show his face. … The fans appreciated when his name was called and he walked or ran out on the field.”

Once again, baseball's most outspoken former player (Willie Mays also has a lot to say, so it's not like Aaron is the only one) puts it exactly as it needs to be. If Jeter listens, he'll understand. It's all straight forward. This may be a high-paid profession, but at the end of the day, it's a kids' games that adults get the right to play and be idolized for. If he'd rather sleep with Russian models that run, hit, catch, and throw, then so be it, but then he needs to retire and do that 24/7 instead of this. There are tons of players that would love to take his place.

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