By Tony Mangia
WHAT TO DO WITH DEREK JETER?
Only a quarter of the 2010 season has passed and media skeptics have started to swarm all over New York Yankee Derek Jeter's slump like Lindsey Lohan at a swag bag table. Even the most loyal Jeter fan has to be concerned about the anemic batting average, his left-side fielding, and how all this plays into his contract year. A four or five year contract for a 36 year-old shortstop, on the downside, has to already be on GM Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner family's mind. How do the Yankees handle New York's favorite son?
Television analysts talk about future Jeter like he will become a 37 year-old unemployed son--- living in the basement, not paying rent and driving up the grocery bills. In other words, they claim the future Hall-of Famer will become a burden and take up a spot in the line-up, not produce and eat away salary space. At this moment, Derek Jeter is leading all vote getters in the MLB All Star balloting and is on pace to end the season with 36 doubles, 16 home runs and 100 RBIs. Down season?! How many other shortstops will be able to say that?
Jeter entered this season knowing that the Yankees brass never negotiates during a contract. He never whined, made excuses or went to the media through his agent. Jeter's expressions, manners and comments belie the fact that he is off to a slow start at the beginning of a contract season. Imagine players like Gary Sheffield or Manny Ramirez not moping, complaining or dogging it under the same circumstances? I still hear Shef, and I don't even know if he still plays.
Yankee fans knew this day would come; only not when Jeter was slumping. All along, he has done it all with an abundance of class. He accepted A-Rod and his shenanigans along with the media glare. Heck, Randy Johnson only lasted one day before he got into pushing match with the paparazzi. In 15 seasons, you've never seen Jeter sitting in the dugout. He's always standing at the rail, one leg up, scoping out the action on the turf. After a big hit, he's the first over the rail to high-five a score.
HANK IS NOT GEORGE
Jeter's relationship with George Steinbrenner is that of father and son. He still calls "The Boss," Mister Steinbrenner. Hank is like Jeter's older stepbrother. The younger boss doesn't have the emotional ties to Jeter that the old man does---but business is business and George is basically out of the picture. Nobody wants to keep Jeter for old times sake, ala Seattle, who brought back a broken down Ken Griffey Jr.. Nobody wants to remember The Captain hobbling to first base like Yankee great Mickey Mantle in his final seasons or just plain fall down like 41 year-old Willie Mays in the 1973 World Series. Even the staunchest Jeter-hater will never find enough flaws to see him fail miserably. Jeter doesn't have the physical, financial or personal afflictions to allow him fall down like those other greats.
WHAT IS JETER WORTH?
Do they sign Jeter to four or five years? Does he get a pay cut? Is he limited to the DH role? Is Jeter valuable to any other club? Would the face of the Yankees take a pay cut just to stay in New York? The Yankee brass must make a decision--and I'm pretty sure they know what they want to do but, because of team protocol, they can't make anything public yet. Derek Jeter's value goes past Elias statistics and Bill James' fantasy blather.
The thought of Jeter in another uniform would kill most Yankee fans. I'm sure they would rather an eternity of listening to the innocuous "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z---no, that's too cruel...maybe some simple water boarding---instead of envisioning their shortstop making "The Dive" or "The Flip" in anything but pinstripes.
Button Up Your Overcoat
Super Bowl Awarded to Swamps of Jersey
Am I the only New Yorker who isn't excited about the 2014 Super Bowl coming to New Jersey? That's right, Jersey! Thanks a lot Tampa, for using Dick Vitale in your promotion video. Is that the only celebrity you could get? We probably secured the bid after his third "Ba-beee!" While optimistic (really optimistic) local fans conjure up visions of a Giants/Jets scenario, New Yorkers who aren't delusional know this will be a pain in the ass.
I'm all for cold weather games but, NIMBY! The game will overload the city with one of two things we already have an abundance of---tourists. Hipsters are the other scourge. Hipsters, for the uninitiated are those twenty-something roaming the Lower East Side into Bushwick. You've seen their uniform--- canvas high tops, quirky Tee-shirts, forearm tats, I-pods in their ears and messenger bags slung over their shoulders. Don't forget the hats that look like the kind Swiss mountaineers wear. Go to any "dive" bar and you'll see herds of them swilling PBR's between talking about their band's new song. It looks like a Yodelers convention. Whew...glad I got that out of my system.
Tourists, on the other hand, roam our streets four across, arm-in-arm---like something is going to swoop down and take on away. Their lazy strolling, looking up and pointing tends to slow the locals down. Now imagine, in February, another 150 thousand crowding our streets, even more, with their huge, puffy, down-comforter coats. Sleeping bags with sleeves.
It also means making the city look more like the Mall of America than the urban dwelling it should be. Mayor Bloomberg (the Patriots fan) lauded the Giants and Jets for their efforts in securing the game. Translated, this means he can put in more pedestrian malls and attract the few franchise restaurants we don't already have. Then, he can force them to use non-saturated fats, stop using salt and put up calorie charts so we're all healthy, if not happy. Oh yeah, there will probably be a excess tax on sugar drinks, sodas and juices by then.
I know a lot has been made of numbers since New Jersey/York got the big game. Temperatures, inches of snow, Rex Ryan's waist line, but the real numbers are in dollars. How about 1.7 billion to build an unnamed facility without a retractable roof? During game week, extra soldiers, cops and agents will dip into New York's Homeland Security fund while the city keeps extra salt and snow trucks warmed up---just in case of the big blizzard---and diverts money from fire and police budgets to make sure everyone can freeze their buns at GIANTS Stadium!
New Yorkers who think it will be easier to see a Super Bowl live will be shocked to find out the NFL sells less than 1,000 tickets to each team's season-ticket holders. Their only hope is for an 18 inch snowfall on Friday. The airports will close and all those extra tickets will be given away to fill the stands. Even the Mayor of East Rutherford (the city where GIANTS stadium sits) will get in.
IN THE YEAR 2014
Let me set the scenario at Super Bowl XLVIII, in "Trump's The Apprentice and Miss America Stadium", for Giants and Jets fans in the land of make believe. Rex Ryan now weighs 87 pounds. He needs a brace to support his giant head. Mark Sanchez now works on a sit-com produced by George Lopez. Eli Manning hasn't been seen since 2010 after someone gave him the wrong directions to the new stadium. Tom Coughlin's face got so red he blew up and Justin Tuck is still auditioning for Tiki Barber's "job" on The Today Show. The Player's Union is on strike. Replacement Giants beat replacement Jets on a freak 70 degree day. Finally, New Yorkers, and the rest of America, had to watch the game on Pay-Per-View.