It isn’t anything personal, mostly because I have never actually met the man, but I dislike Derek Jeter, (the professional baseball player).
I actually have a very hard time articulating this fact because my personal belief is that it is a waste of time to like or dislike people I have never met. What is the point? I don’t know them. Obviously, I lack information, and any lack of information leads directly to a weak or false conclusion, especially about people. How then do I continue this post without hypocrisy? I am not really sure, but I have this theory: people are constantly and naturally making evaluative decisions every day, about things and people we encounter and so this is, if not completely rational, at least consistent with basic humanity.
Feel free to judge me similarly without knowing me; I assure you, I will be unperturbed for as long as I know nothing about your judgments, and if I do become aware of them I am certain my reaction will be to arch an eyebrow (or possibly run off to a corner in which I will huddle and weep annoyingly while rocking back and forth). Either way, you are free to your own opinions.
Anyway, back to Derek Jeter. Derek Jeter plays the shortstop position for the New York Yankees, and has for his entire professional baseball career which began in 1995. Coincidentally, I really started to be interested in baseball as a sentient being in 1994 (when I was seven) and have, consequently, been watching Derek Jeter play baseball my entire life, especially during the 90s when it seemed like almost every year Derek Jeter and the Yankees were in the world series (96, 98, 99, 00, 01, 03) and Jeter was in the All·Star Game (98-02, 04, 06-10). Furthermore, Derek Jeter is unquestionably one of the greatest shortstops to play the game, purely from an athletic and statistical point of view. Just recently he capped his career to this point by reaching a mark never before attained by a shortstop or a New York Yankee: Jeter hit his 3000th hit.
But my problem with Jeter lies not in his performance on the field, but rather his persona off the field, and his revealed personality in interviews and the public forum, the most recent example of which revolves around the 2011 All·Star Game. Jeter won the popular vote for starting shortstop for the American League All·Stars by a large margin. He then proceeded to decline to play, or even to appear during the opening ceremonies, citing fatigue and a recent injury. He then proceeded to play several games in which he hit several more hits, including a home run for number 3000.
I can fully understand a player declining to play in an exhibition game for reasons of injury or fatigue. But, the players who show up for, and who have the option of playing in, the All·Star Game are voted for by the fans, fellow players, and coaches. Being selected for the All·Star Game means that a great number of people want to see you there, in that context, and cheer your success as a baseball player. Declining to play is understandable (some are even forced to not play due to rules to protect player health) but declining to show is a snub.
Jeter absolutely was recently injured. I understand that. But, he returned from injury to play long enough to reach a personal and professional milestone (3000 hits), and become one of only 28 hitters to reach such a milestone in over 114 years of professional baseball in America. If he could return from injury to hit a few more hits, and in so doing endure the rigor of a few games in order to do so, why could he not merely be present for the opening ceremonies of an exhibition game?
Declining to even be present, stay in a nice hotel for a few days, enjoy some exclusive privileges, put on a uniform and tip your hat to millions of cheering fans when they call your name is just arrogant and an extreme lack of class. Baseball players would be nobodies without a job if it were not for the fans who pay them to play a boy’s game via ticket sales and other revenues. Derek Jeter’s name would not be a household name if it were not for his millions of fans. And he just told them he did not care about them at all.
Lastly, while Jeter may be a future candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame (based on his stats and records), and he may, in the past, have been an All·Star calibre player, this year he is playing well below form and well below the level of many other shortstops in baseball. This year, despite his 3000th hit, his performance did not merit an All·Star invitation. And when he was invited anyway, Jeter then spurned the invitation.
Derek Jeter displayed his arrogance and his contempt for the very people that employ him and make it possible for him to have the money, prestige, and acclaim that he enjoys. His is the insult of the kid given a present that he did not deserve by a loving caregiver who then turns up his nose at the giver and says “no thank you, I don’t feel like opening it, give it to someone else, I can’t really be bothered” and then goes to play in a corner.
And that is why I don’t like Derek Jeter.
I sincerely hope that if I ever get a chance to meet Jeter, I may come away with a completely different perspective. Knowing someone has the potential to make all the difference in the world in the way that person is understood.