Here at The Whole 42 Minutes, there's almost nothing we hate more than "the narrative" in sports and sports journalism. Many of our posts combat this omnipresent "narrative" that dictates sports fans' attitudes about a whole host of issues. "The narrative" consists of ideas including the following: Tim Tebow should be a starting quarterback in the NFL, Justin Verlander deserved the AL MVP last year, Dirk Nowitzki can't get it done when it counts (2010 edition), LeBron James can't get it done when it counts (2011 edition), Michael Jordan can't get it done when it counts (1990 edition), and now, Derek Jeter is the best postseason player in baseball history and Alex Rodriguez is a terrible postseason player. I'd like to point out that all of these are WRONG.
As I ranted in a previous post, Alex Rodriguez is not a bad postseason player. He's having a bad postseason this year, but for his career, he's been excellent. Derek Jeter is not the best postseason player of all time, and I can say that with certainty because of this very interesting fact: he's been about as good, or perhaps not quite as good, as ALEX RODRIGUEZ. These two players' postseason OPS are identical, and A-Rod has better power numbers. So at the very least, Derek Jeter is just about tied with a person whom many people believe to be one of the worst postseason players there has ever been. The only argument you could make in favor of Derek Jeter that would satisfy me is that he's played way more postseason games, which is true, but that doesn't change the fact that A-Rod's been slightly better than Jeter in the respective postseason games they've played. SO YOU SEE WHY WE DON'T LIKE THIS WHOLE NARRATIVE THING.
All that being said, I'm not here to defend A-Rod or to put down Derek Jeter. I just want actual reality to dictate how they are compared and evaluated. And now that Derek Jeter is going to be out for the rest of these playoffs with a broken ankle, it would be interesting if the Yankees won the World Series.
Derek Jeter has been described as a "winner" more times than I can count. He is a "winner" in that he has been a good player on teams that have won a lot, but his teams do not win more just by his sheer force of will. THAT'S PREPOSTEROUS, especially in a sport like baseball, in which a player comes to bat 1/9th of the time and only plays one position in the field. I mean, just look at this crap from MLB.com yesterday. Here's a quote from this piece of stool that makes my skin crawl:
He is the captain, the shortstop, the leadoff man, the spiritual center of this entire operation. He is the embodiment of the best of what being a Yankee represents. He is a winner. He has class, but he is without airs or pretensions. He is having a terrific year at age 38. For another player that would be a semi-miraculous development. For Jeter, it is just part of the package.
I literally just barfed. Literally. Not literally. The things we know for sure about Jeter include a) his performances on the field and b) how he represents himself to the public. Yes, Derek Jeter has had a Hall of Fame career. He's been great at what he does for a very long time. And he never says the wrong thing to the media. One can tell that he's conscious of how he presents himself, and he stays out of trouble.
But all the rest of this stuff is just complete garbage. The "spiritual center" of the Yankees? How do we know that Jeter even talks to his teammates? How do we know that Jeter's not an aloof prick to all the Nick Swishers and Brett Gardners of the world? He's the best of what being a Yankee represents? How soon we forget his contract squabbles with the Yankees, demanding more money than he'd be worth to any other organization. I'm not saying this stuff to put down Derek Jeter, and I'm not saying that everything he's done isn't justifiable and correct. I'm just saying that these labels are all complete bullshit, and if you put any stock into the fact that Derek Jeter somehow miraculously wills his team to win, you're an idiot. Derek Jeter is not a god, and he is not a hero. He's a very good baseball player who represents himself to the media well and THAT'S IT.
So now, we have a situation in which Derek Jeter won't be playing for the rest of the playoffs. Are we counting the Yankees out? Of course not! Just like we didn't count them out when Rivera got hurt. Jeter's contributions are more important than Rivera's, but in the grand scheme of things, you're replacing 1/9th of your offensive production with a guy who's a worse hitter, and you're replacing your shortstop with someone who IS BETTER AT PLAYING SHORTSTOP BECAUSE DEREK JETER IS A TERRIBLE SHORTSTOP NOW. If the Yankees win this year, what will the narrative mongers have to say about it?
Will the baseball media's Jeter boner go down? I don't think so. So if the Yankees win, and the baseball writers say nothing about how they overestimated Derek Jeter's importance, we'll all be able to call them out on their hornswaggle. And that would be a glorious, glorious, GLORIOUS thing.
So if I were ever to root for the Yankees, it'd be now. I think shutting these asshole sports writers would be extremely satisfying. However, I'm not rooting for the Yankees, because if there's one thing I hate more than "the narrative" in sports, it's the fucking Yankees.