Bryan Joiner

Why then I

Tag: derek jeter

Imaginary Conversation With: A-Rod

(A-ROD is staring me down in the middle of Times Square)

A-ROD: …

ME: …

A-ROD: …

ME: …

A-ROD: … well? Aren’t you going to congratulate me?

ME: On what?

A-ROD: (scoffs) Number 600.

ME: No.

A-ROD: Why not?

ME: Because I don’t care.

A-ROD: I thought you loved baseball!

ME: I do.

A-ROD: This is a big deal!

ME: No, that—(points at guy on a unicycle who is juggling bowling pins on fire with a huge snake wrapped around his neck)—is a big deal.

(you’ll have to imagine the fire, snake parts)

A-ROD: Whoa. How do you think he does that?

ME: Practice—

A-ROD: (completely ignoring me, bellowing) HEY GUY! HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

(dude ignores him)

A-ROD: (nonplussed, smiling) What’s his problem?

ME: He seems a little busy—

A-ROD: (louder this time) HEY DUDE! HOW. DO. YOU. DO. THAT?

(GUY ON UNICYCLE JUGGLING FLAMING BOWLING PINS starts to wobble, does not look at A-Rod as he starts to talk)

GUY ON UNICYCLE JUGGLING FLAMING BOWLING PINS: Looks like we… (whoosh, whoosh) … have an excited little boy … (whoosh, whoosh) … in our audience today. Where are you from, little boy?

A-ROD: (completely unaware that he’s being spoken to)

ME: Alex! It’s rude not to answer someone when they’re talking to you. Tell the man where you’re from.

A-ROD: (sheepish) I’m from, uh, New York City, sir.

GUY ON UNICYCLE JUGGLING FLAMING BOWLING PINS: (smiles, eyes still concentrating on task) New York City? Do you hear that, ladies and gentleman? From right here! And tell me, little boy, what do you want to be when you grow up?

A-ROD: (shy)

ME: (in a low, reassuring voice) Go ahead, Alex. Answer the man’s question.

A-ROD: I want to play baseball!

GUY ON UNICYCLE JUGGLING FLAMING BOWLING PINS: A baseball player! That’s great! Mets or Yankees?

A-ROD: (gaining confidence) … Yankees, sir.

GUY ON UNICYCLE JUGGLING FLAMING BOWLING PINS: The Yankees! Now tell me, who’s your favorite player?

A-ROD: (quietly) Derek Jeter.

GUY ON UNICYCLE JUGGLING FLAMING BOWLING PINS: Derek Jeter! He’s my favorite too! But I also like Jorge Posada. And Mariano Rivera. And Mark Teixeira. And CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes. What a team!

A-ROD: (almost a whisper) Yeah they’re good

(There is a commotion as all the pins fall to the ground and there is screaming because they’re still on fire)

GUY ON UNICYCLE NO LONGER JUGGLING PINS: Holy shit, you’re Alex Rodriguez.

A-ROD: Yep.

GUY ON UNICYCLE NO LONGER JUGGLING PINS: You hit 600 yet?

A-ROD: (beaming) Yes! I did it yesterday. (pause) Can I have your snake?

GUY DESCENDING UNICYCLE: No way, he’s a part of my act. This is how I make my living, bro.

A-ROD: Would you take… (reaches into pocket, counts cash, counts it again) $5,000?

GUY WHO JUST SOLD SNAKE: Yes. Yes I would.

(In a clean motion, swipes cash from A-Rod and drapes snake around his neck)

GUY MOVING AWAY QUICKLY: Feed it hamsters… or chicken… once a week… (he picks up the unicycle and bolts)

A-ROD: Sucker.

ME: What?

A-ROD: Those were counterfeit bills.

ME: You carry fake money around?

A-ROD: Oh sure. Everyone thinks it’s real. How do you think I got this suit?

(it is a nice suit)

ME: Wow. What a dick.

A-ROD: I’m not as dumb as everyone thinks I am.

A-ROD: Let’s go to the M&M’s store.

ME: I don’t think they’ll let you bring that in—

A-ROD: I said (him and the snake look me straight in the eyes) let’s go to the M&M’s store

ME: (terrified) … okay …

(NYPD officer approaches)

COP: Hey you got a permit for that thing?

A-ROD: You bet.

(He reaches into his wallet and winks at me before turning to the cop and “paying him off.” Afterward we go say hi to the Naked Cowboy [they’re apparently friends] and go to the M&M’s store, where A-Rod gets sick of the snake and hands it to me and bolts. I’m the guy who has it when the cops show up and they’re about to arrest me for it when the Naked Cowboy—with whom they’re familiar—backs up my crazy story. He then demands $20, which he double-checks against the light because he “know(s) A-Rod’s game.” He says if I give him $5 more he’ll sing “America.” I decline, and he starts singing it anyway.)

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Derek Jeter and the Hank Aaron Award

Tonight, Derek Jeter received the Hank Aaron award for the “top offensive player” in the American League. Derek Jeter is a great baseball player. He batted .334 this season, with 18 home runs and 66 RBIs. If you’re into OBP and slugging percentage, he rocked .406 (not bad!) and .465 (pretty good!). Also, his team won 103 games. That’s excellent!

He was not, however, the best offensive player in the American League.

Joe Mauer, the catcher for the Minnesota Twins, led the American League in batting average. He hit .365. (That’s excellent!) If you like OBP, he got on base at a .444 clip (Wow!), also to lead the AL. And slugging? His .587 clip beat all comers (Golly!). Not only that, he put together impressive numbers for homers (28) and RBI (96). Notice what all these numbers have in common? No, not that they’re awesome (But they are!). They’re all better than Jeter’s.

Every. Single. One of them.

Let that sink in for a second. This award isn’t like the MVP, the “valuable” condition of which lends itself to interpretation. But maybe Dude X made the clubhouse better! No; this award is for offense. Nor is it like the Hall of Fame, which encourages voters to include character-related factors in the vote. Albert Belle was a poophead, and I’m not going to vote for him! None of that here. You could kick your dog in public and you’d still be eligible for this trophy. It’s all about how offensive you are.

(Chase Utley just hit a home run; huzzah!)

Before I got on a tear here, one more time: Jeter is a great baseball player. But he’s not the offensive player Joe Mauer is. Nor is he the defensive player, but that’s not important at the moment… unless it is. Mauer will win the MVP award; the Twins sneaking into the playoffs basically clinched that. Maybe the voters wanted to recognize Jeter somehow, and, realizing that his long-suffering efforts to win an MVP (When will he be recognized for his contributions? It’s like no one ever talks about him) were going to fall short yet again, decided to give him a lesser trophy. Well I’ve got bad news: giving out hardware to those who don’t deserve it devalues the hardware itself, the name associated with it, and the game they’re playing. There are times when legitimate disagreements can be had about a hitter’s value; this is not one of them. By giving Jeter an award he did not earn, the voters have devalued the award. Derek Jeter’s greatness is secure without changing the rules for him. Let’s let the story be the story, and not try to write a new one to serve our own ends.*

* And as we, the fans, voted on this, I’m talking to you.