By Jon Lane
Derek Jeter passing Lou Gehrig on the Yankees’ all-time hits list may not make him the greatest to wear the pinstripes, but while on the express train to the Hall of Fame, Jeter is compiling a case to be considered among the finest shortstops to ever play baseball – if not the best. Watching how Jeter handled the accolades, and how his approach to the business of winning never changes, confirmed that he’s the classiest player in uniform today.
Here’s how Jeter stacks up with the great shortstops of yesteryear:
21–Honus Wagner, Cal Ripken, Jr.
20–Luke Appling, Joe Cronin, George Davis, Robin Yount.
19–Ernie Banks, Ozzie Smith
17–John Montgomery Ward, Hughie Jennings
16–Dave Bancroft, Pee Wee Reese
15–DEREK JETER, Joe Tinker, Lou Boudreau, Travis Jackson.
14–Joe Sewell, Arky Vaughn
GAMES PLAYED AT SHORTSTOP
? Banks played more games at 1B than SS.
? Ripken played almost 700 games at 3B and DH.
? Yount played half his games in the outfield.
By Jon Lane
It’s a wonderful spring day here in the Big Apple. Walking down Eighth Avenue I was greeted with a lovely wind chill that made the real-feel temperature a wholesome 21 degrees. This is the time of year when Mother Nature experiences a few too many Happy Hours.
Anyway, thanks to everyone who joined in on both Chris Shearn’s and Team Tampa’s live commentaries from sunny Florida. The crew has produced a plethora of exclusive interviews and features for your viewing pleasure as everyone gets geared up for the 2009 season. In fact, individual game tickets went on sale on line this morning and will be available and the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office and all Ticketmaster locations starting tomorrow. From what I hear, the new Yankee Stadium is a phenomenal facility, so be sure to be a part of it. Next week, I’ll be getting my first look around and I can’t wait!
Some other random thoughts for a Tuesday:
It’s Red Sox vs. Yankees airing on the YES Network tonight at 7. Afterwords, stay tuned for the premiere of “Yankees 2009: Pride, Power & Pinstripes,” featuring Michael Kay’s exclusive interview with Alex Rodriguez. The New York Daily News grabbed excerpts of the conversation, taped prior to his hip surgery, where A-Rod said he doesn’t want the names of the other 103 players tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs released.
“Well this is really about my mistake,” Rodriguez said. “You know, many nights I fell asleep thinking about who I can blame, and this guy, or that guy. And when I woke up I kept coming back to the same person – it’s me. I mean, there’s no one to blame. I hope those 103 names never come out.”
Kay also asked A-Rod if he’s worried that people may not like him:
“Well, I’ve given up on that!” Rodriguez said. “I’ve given up on that; it’s just the way it is. I mean, look, I feel like right now, that not too many people like me, so I’ve given up on that. As long as my teammates like me, and they respect me, and my two daughters love their daddy, I’m going to go out and do the very best I can. Look, I really screwed up, and for that I’m sorry. I’m just happy to be playing baseball again.”
I’ve written and said this over and over: If A-Rod does what he’s done his entire career, that’s all people will care about. Play the game — and play the game to win.
Because Brian Bruney’s spring ERA is 7.42, Joe Girardi said the Yankees need to find a way to get him going. Don’t get this confused with the manager putting Bruney on notice. He’s still going into the regular season as the eighth-inning man, so please don’t start with the Joba to the bullpen stuff. The operative word in my first sentence is “spring.”
Xavier Nady was named the Yankees’ starting right fielder. This was the featured story in the papers yesterday because quite simply it was the news of the day. In actuality it’s much ado about nothing.
Nick Swisher will get his share of playing time and will thrive when called upon. Yes he was upset and disappointed, but who wouldn’t be? I wouldn’t know what to do with a player who accepts the fact that he won’t play every day. Swisher has a new lease on his professional life and Mark Texieria’s signing failed to dim his bright outgoing personality. He’ll handle this too.
Funny observation from Pete Caldera: “Shelley Duncan to Xavier Nady, upon seeing a bunch of writers speaking to Nady this afternoon: ‘Are you on the same list as Alex?'”
Brett Gardner could grow into the Yankees’ version of Dustin Pedroia, writes Mike Lupica. It’s highly unlikely Gardner will become the AL’s Most Valuable Player, but like Pedroia, Gardner’s small package is saturated with grit, heart and desire. Said Girardi in the story: “There’s no size chart in baseball.”
Derek Jeter looked his age during the World Baseball Classic, writes Jack Curry. Jeter batted an uneventful .276 with no homers, RBIs or stolen bases in eight games for Team USA and faced more questions about his defensive shortcomings. I’m choosing not to worry about it until 2011, but Jeter is 34 years old and if his range is determined to be shot, it’s the outfield, a part-time role or (gasp) farewell to an icon.
Robin Yount was 29 years old when shoulder surgery ended his career as a short stop. He moved to center field to reduce the pressure on his throwing arm and proceeded to bat above .300 four straight years and win an MVP in 1989. The difference here though is Jeter’s arm is fine, so will this perception about his range suddenly improve or disappear when he’s in the outfield? Let’s get there first.