Toast 2 Toast: Jeter and Aimless MLB Ideas

Here’s a piece that’s pretty much just emails between me and guest contributor Jamie Will about baseball. We based this off Scott Pianowski’s Breakfast Table pieces, which is always a good read. I’m in blue, he’s black. 

Mark Mulder’s comeback from retirement is short-lived after he ruptures his Achilles tendon. Well that’s sad. The Angels needed any help they could get pitching wise and I was hoping to see him pitch a couple of games at least.  I remember him as one of the big 3 pitchers for the A’s during the early Moneyball era, although they weren’t mentioned in the movie at all. Tim Hudson and Barry Zito have still been pitching after their time with the A’s even though Mulder was the youngest of the three. At least Zito pitched well for the Giants come playoffs, I mean how much can you complain about the bad contract when your team wins 2 World Series in the span of 3 years. You can’t.

Apparently Ryan Dempster won’t be pitching for the Red Sox this year so he could spend time with his kids. I always liked him. He was a starter turned closer turned back to starter. The sort of put me wherever you need me player. Do you think the Red Sox are the team to beat in the AL East? I find myself more worried about the Yankees.

The Captain is retiring this year. I wonder if teams will pay tribute to him like they did Mo. I hope not. I like Jeter, but Mo was a special case. I just don’t want this to become a regular thing. At this rate I don’t think anyone will beat Pete Rose’s hit record. I wish Ichiro’s Japanese hits count, but even then I don’t think he’d beat Rose. If only he came to the US sooner, I’m sure he would have then.

Do you think A-Rod will ever play in the MLB again? I want to say yes, but that whole Bonds situation comes to mind. I mean he can still play and he’ll certainly bring media attention to the team…

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Poor Mark Mulder… It’s always tough to see a promising career get so derailed by injuries like that, especially when they seem like a hard-working, good guy. I have to give him credit for continuing to push and give it a shot but, in light of this ruptured achilles, I think Mark would be better served to take his time in rehab and then coast into retirement. At his age, this kind of injury is even more of a struggle to come back from. While I’d root for him to make it if he does try to come back, I’d hate to see this kind of thing happen again. Either way, good luck, Mark.

Skipping around a little, let’s get to a storied career that I am tired of and want to end. A-Rod… I will admit I was a huge fan back in the early days and rooted for him to be the guy during our lifetime to challenge all of the historic achievements we’ve only heard about. My favorite non-Phillies player throughout my whole childhood was actually Ken Griffey Jr. but when the injuries started mercilessly cutting him down, A-Rod was the next guy in line. Now we’re here many years later and he’s a caricature of his former self. I don’t get too deep into the minutiae of the A-Rod “saga” in the last several years because, frankly, I am sick of it. I am actually happy that his suspension will stand because I want him to go away and the time is now. I guess he can “still play” like you said but all the media attention is a huge distraction that isn’t worthwhile for a team to get the scraps of a once awesome career. Something tells me we’ll be continuing on this one sometime soon, as much as I’d like to not have Rodriguez cross my mind…

I completely disagree with you on Jeter and personally think he is well worth the same kind of treatment as Mo. I will agree that Mo was above and beyond all others at his position in history and deserving of all of the pomp and circumstance. At the same time, while he won’t break Rose’s hits record or anything like that, Jeter has survived the test of time and been at the heart of five World Series champion teams. I think more needs to be said about the fact that he has not only managed the heat of being the captain of the Yankees for all these years, but also thrived on it. I think he is deserving of whatever teams decide to do to celebrate his career, though I’m sure media outlets will overdo it (ESPN).

What media outlets should make more of a mention of is a guy like Dempster, who actually does have his priorities straight. After all the twists and turns of his career, he deserves a chance to spend time with his family. Certain parts of life only happen once and being there for your kids to grow up is one of them. I have a lot of respect for him for making this call and foregoing a lot of money in the meantime. As for the AL East, I have no feel for this division at all this year. It is hard to say because there has been so much turnover on a team like the Yankees and you don’t know how it’s going to come together. We probably won’t know how it all comes together until later in the season. But we can be sure that it’ll be an interesting ride to say the least.

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I don’t think I’ve ever met a baseball fan who didn’t like Ken Griffey Jr. I also wouldn’t even know how to react if someone told me they hated Griffey. How could you not like the guy? It’s sad that his career couldn’t have been sustained longer/stronger because of all the injuries he had that hurt him, but this is a guy who came out clean playing through the dirty steroid age of baseball, like Andy Dufresne in Shawshank. The swing, that smile, his endless home run robbing catches, his “normal” catches, his fresh cameo on TV, game 5 of the 1995 ALDS, the way he wore his hat backwards…inspiring me to wear mine backwards and not pull it off at all, I could go on forever. He was always a treat to watch. And he left to soon.

I didn’t mean to insult Jeter, but I don’t think every MLB team should honor him. I know Fenway will, but what connection does he have with the Angels? Padres? Chipper Jones is the only other player that I can think of that was honored like Mo. These two guys were honored because of their long successful careers with one franchise, it also helped that they were class acts. But Ken Griffey Jr .was one of the most liked and greatest players of all time and he didn’t get anything like the previous two guys. Todd Helton was a great player, was respected, and played for the Rockies his whole career; I think he took out a full paper add in the Denver Post about his retirement and Peyton Manning went to go see his last game. Besides Jeter which current player meets the qualifications and could be honored by all the MLB teams? David Wright? probably wishful thinking on my part. Joe Mauer? David Ortiz? Jimmy Rollins? Only joking about Rollins. But I can’t think of another guy.

The Blue Jays were picked last year to win the AL East and this year are pegged to come in last, even though it’s pretty much the same team as last year. I want to call them this year’s Red Sox because I love this lineup when they’re healthy, but I understand the skepticism. I think a lot of people are sleeping on them is because the AL East has improved or at least seems to have improved compared to last year’s preseason. The Yankees have added a bunch of top free agents, albeit losing one of the biggest, but are generally perceived as stronger than last year. The Red Sox are the defending world champs and unlike last year where they were seen as a weak team. The Rays have a great pitching staff and people believe that Wil Myers will spark that offense. The Orioles aren’t pushovers either. I guess because everyone last year saw the opportunity for this improved Jays team to take over a, at the time, thought of weak Al East division…or at least a weaker division than it’s been in years, but now people realize the AL East will never be weak. It’s easily the most well-rounded and toughest division in baseball. That along with perceived injury risk and a rotation that is honestly pretty weak after Dickey, including Dickey?, is probably why everyone’s pegging them for last. I hope they come back, but I’m not holding my breath.

The Reds sign Homer Bailey for 6 years $105 million dollars…that seems like a lot of money. I wonder what Mad Max’s contract is going to look like.

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I was the same way with the backwards hat. Griffey really was the man. I really wish he was the one who was able to challenge and break the iconic records, but it wasn’t to be. I still have the Upper Deck rookie card of his that was the Holy Grail of baseball cards for me when I was young and collecting them. I always tried to play like him too, though I was a big, not overly fast 12 year-old first baseman. BUT, I did wear 24, rocked the backwards hat when I could, and even used the Griffey swing doctor contraption in the offseason to try to emulate the man.

On to Jeter… I don’t think it has anything to do with the connection he has to specific teams. Whether you or any one else likes it or not, Jeter has meant a lot to the game of baseball throughout his career at the heart of the Yankees. That is why he will likely be lauded like Mo and like Larry Jones were. Jeter has also spent his career with one team, which happens to be the highest profile one. As far as the class act part, I think that Jeter is considered to be one overall and that, even with his exploits as a NYC playboy, I’m pretty sure he has not committed any of the character sins that seem to be so common among athletes these days. The Helton thing is an interesting comparison and perhaps the reasons he didn’t get all the fanfare were that Colorado is a lower profile franchise and maybe he didn’t want it. I don’t really know how that all came about, but the feel I have on that is that it was more of a choice on Helton’s part than him “not making the cut” for a league-wide celebration. I don’t know if anybody else will get that treatment. I hope it doesn’t become a trend, because that would be sad and would cheapen the process for those who already went through it. I can safely say no current Phillies will likely make that cut. Unless the Mets rise up big time and win, Wright likely won’t get the fanfare though being in New York helps. The best possible candidates will have prolonged careers of sustained success. I don’t think we’ll see anybody stay on one team that long as much now, so that criteria may need to be altered or dropped. It’ll be interesting to see, though.

Dude… the AL East is setting up to be a crazy race for all the reasons you just discussed. Every team has a reason why they could be considered favorites and expected to win. As an NL East fan and native Philadelphian, I usually can’t stand hearing about the AL East all the time (Thanks ESPN) but I will admit that I am intrigued this season, as well as a bit jealous. I fully expect my team to not be involved very much, so I probably will get sucked into the AL East race, along with countless others. Let’s hope it is all it is hyped up to be.

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