Derek Jeter has also been known to be one of the class acts in all of baseball.
Derek Jeter is 36 year's old. Last year he had the worst season of his career at the plate, and even though he won the fifth Gold Glove of his career, he certainly showed signs of aging.
This year he is off to a horrible start, judged not only by the standards he has set for himself, but also by baseball in general. After 28 games he is batting just .250, with 0 home runs and 6 RBI. His OPS is only .580 and his WAR (Win Above Replacement Player) is -.1, both numbers by far the lowest of his career.
It is tough to watch a great player's skills decline. But it's inevitable. Some handle is with grace and class, others, well, not so much...
I would like to think that Derek Jeter would fall in to the former category. But it sure feels like he could slip into the latter. When the Yankees rewarded him this past off season with a 3-year, $51 million dollar contract (which by all accounts he would not be worth based on his statistics and age, but was more than worth based on intangibles such as leadership and as a fan favorite) Jeter reacted impetuously. He was accused of being money hungry and selfish during the negotiation, and reacted in the press conference announcing his signing by saying:
"I was pretty angry about it, but I let that be known," Jeter said. "I was angry about it because I was the one that said I didn't want to do it, that I wasn't going to (test the market). To hear the organization tell me to go shop it when I just told you I wasn't going to, if I'm going to be honest, I was angry about it."
"It all started with my (reported) salary demands, which still cracks me up," he said. "What position am I in to demand a salary? Give me this, or what? Where am I going?"
This Thursday, Yankee's Manager Joe Girardi decided to give Derek Jeter the day off. The Yankees were 12 games into a 16 game stretch and Girardi, as is his job, is certainly looking to make sure his star shortstop is healthy throughout the whole 162 game season. In addition, Jeter was 0-9 in his career hitting against Tiger's starter Rick Porcello.
Again Jeter did not react well. When asked for his reaction he said:
"It's always difficult not to play, but yeah, anytime you feel like you're having good at-bats and you're swinging the bat well, you want to continue," he said. "But today, that's not the case."
Asked if he was "upset" about not playing, Jeter said: "Upset? You mean like I want to fight somebody? No. I'm not happy, but I'm not upset about it."
Derek Jeter is going to reach 3000 hits for his career this summer. He is a lock for the Baseball Hall of Fame. His reputation as a player and a person is impeccable. He needs to come to terms with where he is in his career and maintain the decorum we have come to expect from him.
Stay classy Derek Jeter!