FIRE JOE MORGAN: The Cloak of Intangibility


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Thursday, November 02, 2006


The Cloak of Intangibility

There's this series of kids' books out called the Harry Potter books -- pretty sure you've never heard of it. I only know about it because I'm such a voracious reader. Anyway, Harry is this little wizard kid who runs around doing magic and such, and one of his fun toys is a cloak that turns you invisible. Sort of a level one idea in a story about magic, but I digress.

The point is: I'm 99% confident that Derek Jeter possesses and wears a cloak that causes other people to see his intangibles instead of his physical form. I'm going to call this thing the Cloak of Intangibility because it's a name that makes a lot of sense. The science on the cloak is fuzzy, but intangibles aren't about facts or science. Intangibles just work. So it was that everyone who saw Derek viewed him through a hazy, intangibly prism. I mean, look, we'd heard for years how special he was -- how captain-y, and how Truly Yankee-y. That cloak was working like gangbusters for Derek. But today is a banner day, because today Phil Taylor turns Derek Jeter's Cloak of Intangibility against him. It's all there in the title:

Jeter's no MVP
Captain's lack of leadership sank Yankees' hopes

Delectably crazy already.

Now that baseball's postseason is over, the individual awards will soon be handed out, including the American League MVP. Boston's David Ortiz and a trio of Twins, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Johan Santana, are all viable candidates for the hardware, and there will be no complaints from this corner if any of them win. The only injustice would be if the award goes to the player who may just be the favorite: Derek Jeter.

We've gone over this many times on FJM. Derek Jeter led the AL in VORP by a hair over Travis Hafner. There are arguments to be made here, but none of them end with the conclusion that giving the MVP to Jeter would in any way be an "injustice." Let's save the word injustice for the Rwandan genocide.

There's no question that Jeter had a fabulous year, finishing second in the AL batting race

Don't care.

and helping the Yanks to the best regular-season record in the league.

Care just a little tiny bit maybe.

But Jeter, the Yankees captain, was also derelict in his duty this season. The supposed team leader led everyone in pinstripes except the teammate who needed him most -- third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

He led the fuck out of Brian Bruney. He grabbed Bernie Williams by the scruff of his neck and willed him to that .768 OPS. He kidnapped Chien-Ming Wang and read the entirety of Nietzsche's Human, All Too Human to him despite the fact that Wang speaks little to no English. Jeter didn't care. He read it aloud in its original German -- a language neither of them understand.

Jeter is the Yankees' Teflon shortstop, the golden boy to whom no criticism ever sticks. He is a clutch player, to be sure,

It's in plain view! When I look at him, I see only a halo of clutchness, no mortal body. This entity has transcended the plane of tangibility. Where was I?

But in the most crucial area, the A-Rod area, he was a crashing failure. Rodriguez was a psychological mess by the time the postseason rolled around, desperate to be accepted as a "real" Yankee,

Please -- it's True Yankee.

Manager Joe Torre buried him in the eighth spot in the batting order in the final game,

An act we can, in hindsight, completely blame Derek Jeter for.

So now the Yankees have an emotionally fragile star on their hands and no idea what to do with him. Trade him, rehabilitate him, what? It's sad to see a great player fall so far so fast, but the saddest thing of all is that Jeter might have been able to keep the situation from getting this bad.

Because of his special powers. Just imagine: what else does Jeter have besides his cloak? A Leadership Hat? Hustle Stirrups? Scrappy Shoelaces? Remember, the issue we're discussing here is the MVP.

A-Rod is a man of tremendous insecurities, even though he struggles to appear as though he has none. He craves acceptance, and on the Yankees, there is only one man who can bestow that him, and that man is the sainted Jeter. All the Teflon shortstop had to do, at any point in the season, was to let it be known that he was on A-Rod's side. The rest of the Yankees, and then the public, would no doubt have followed suit.

Still talking about the MVP award. Did I mention Jeter had a .324 EqA, his best since 1999? And while his power wasn't stellar, he did OBP .417. But let's get back to the real MVP nitty-gritty: how well did Jeter make A-Rod play?

A few words of support to the media would probably have done the trick. Jeter's never been much of a talker, so perhaps that was too much to ask, but words weren't even necessary. It would only have taken a token gesture from Jeter -- a hand on A-Rod's shoulder,

Gayer, please --

some horseplay in front of the television cameras

Thank you.

And now a scene from Phil Taylor's forthcoming stage play MVP!:

MVP Committee Chair: Let's not mince words, Derek. You were a great hitter and an adequate fielder this year.
Derek Jeter: Where did I go wrong?
MVP Committee Chair: There was one area in which you were startlingly deficient.
Derek Jeter: Oh no. It's not what I think it is, is it?
MVP Committee Chair: Yes. I'm afraid so. Derek, this year you were absolutely terrible at televised horseplay. Unbelievably bad. The last time someone was this bad at televised horseplay was Edd Roush in 1923, before the invention of television or horses.
Derek Jeter: I -- I understand.
MVP Committee Chair: Now would you please tell Mauer to come in here? We have reason to believe he failed to give enough hugs to Nick Punto this past season.

But the Yankee captain couldn't bring himself to do that. By his silence, by his body language, he sent the unspoken message that he had no interest in helping A-Rod out of his funk. Go ahead and boo him, go ahead and rip him in the press, Jeter seemed to be saying. I don't like him any more than you do. By all accounts Jeter has never forgotten some mildly disparaging remarks A-Rod made about him years ago in a magazine article. But apparently he has managed to forget that Rodriguez switched from shortstop to third base when he became a Yankee rather than ruffle Jeter's feathers, and that he has deferred to him at every turn ever since he came to New York.

I suspect that some of this utter speculation is true. But how does this fit into anyone's conception of how the MVP should be awarded? Let's blackball David Ortiz because Josh Beckett didn't pitch well. Screw Jermaine Dye -- what did he do to prevent Neal Cotts from imploding? Phil Taylor, you're just building my case: Derek Jeter owns a piece of clothing that causes people to forget about baseball and needlessly make up stories about what kind of person he is. It may be a cloak. It may be a coat. It may be a knit cap, although I find this proposition to be laughable.

Whatever sin A-Rod committed against Jeter, he has more than paid penance for it. Jeter is no one's MVP until he finds a way not just to accept A-Rod, but also to help him.

I think Phil Taylor will be surprised when he wakes up on November 21st and reads that Derek Jeter has handily won the 2006 AL MVP Award when everyone knows he is no one's MVP.

I will not be surprised, however, when the following unfolds at Derek Jeter's open-casket funeral in early 2008:

Joe Torre: To me, he was the Captain. The Truest of Yankees. The Zeus of Clutch. The real President of the United States -- forget who's in the White House.
(A young boy walks up to the casket, and before anyone can stop him, he pulls back the Cloak of Intangibility. The crowd gasps.)
Hideki Matsui: It can't be!
Jason Giambi: This man --
Jorge Posada: This god --
James Earl Jones: -- is just a baseball player. Yes: an earthly, human baseball player with no magic in his bones nor sorcery in his blood.
(A lengthy, solemn silence.)
Phil Taylor: Whoa! No fucking way!

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posted by Junior  # 8:10 PM
Thanks to the many thousands of brave young men and women who sent this in. Tune in soon for Gold Glove talk!
You're all going to think I'm crazy, but I sort of -- sort of-- agree with this guy's point.

The BBWAA have criteria for MVP voting. To keep things in the family, you can find that stuff here, in the middle of an old JoeChat.

The third listed criterion is:
3. General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.

I'm looking at general character and loyalty. Now, I wish these things weren't in the list of criteria for MVP voting, but they are.

Here's what I think: I don't think Jeter necessarily did a bad job of leading A-Rod. I disagree with Taylor on that point. But I do think that Jeter had plenty of opportunities to say that any talk of A-Rod struggling was absolute 100% butt-a-fucking hogwash. He never did. He didn't quite throw him under the bus, neither. I have to paraphrase here because it's late and I don't feel like looking up quotes from the year, but I remember his general take being "whatever happens, we're right there with him. Through his good times and bad."

I think he was a total dick. I think a good teammate stands up and says: "he's not struggling. He's awesome. Write a new story. This is bunk. I'm going to start a blog making fun of sports reporters because of the things you say."

And I don't know excactly what's meant by "character" and "loyalty," but I could see Jeter's actions in re: A-Rod's performance counting against him. Don't think it's a huge deal, but I just barely agree with this guy's point, so I wanted to write something to stick up for it.

Don't get me wrong -- it's a terrible article and his reasoning is generally awful. Let's just not toss the whole notion out; I think it has some merit.
I'm aboard the dak train on this -- though I buy my ticket regrettably. The thing I keep going back to is when HGH Boy was hitting like .190 in April a few years ago with like no HR, Jeter stuck up for him hard core in the press -- he said something like "We need Giambi to help us, and this booing stuff ain't helping." (That is assuredly a direct quote -- don't bother checking my facts.) But with ARod it's "he doesn't need me to stand up for him."

Whatever. Jeter is a sensitive guy who's still upset about that dumb like GQ article. I think he's lame for that. I don't know if that should impact the MVP. But then again, all BBWAA-voted-on awards are stupid anyway, as evidenced by Mo Vaughn beating Al Belle for MVP the year Belle had 100XBH, mainly beause no one liked Belle and they thought Mo was like a "character" guy, even though Mo was always stumbling drunk out of strip clubs.

Or how Jeter just won his motherhumping third Rawlings Pepsi Burger King Microsoft Vista Gold Glove Award, despite being terrible at gloving things.
Sure. Right.

If the baseball writers thought that Vaughn's character was much "better" than Belle's, than they were not only allowed to, but actually instructed to weigh that in their consideration.

While it may be ridiculous to try to judge one's "character" for a baseball award, it would be more ridiculous to ignore the rules entirely.
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