Derek Jeter is going to start the All Star Game at shortstop in his final MLB season.
Many people have a problem with this. I don’t.
At 40 years old, Jeter is hitting .273 with a .323 on-base percentage, .328 slugging and .651 OPS. It’s not pretty.
Should Jeter start the All Star Game based on those numbers? If the nature of the ASG is to truly honor the best of the best (and part of it is), then no. There are more deserving short stops in the American League such as Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar.
Yet, the problem isn’t Derek Jeter or that fans get to decide the starters. The problem is – and will be – that the All Star Game is supposed to mean something more than just an exhibition for fans. Using the All Star Game to decide which league gets home field advantage for the World Series has been an awful idea. Downright terrible.
The All Star Game is meant to be an exhibition game for fans getting to watch their favorite players represent their teams. Derek Jeter should 100 percent be at his final All Star Game, even if he has to be the batboy.
It doesn’t matter that his numbers aren’t All-Star caliber (frankly, the AL is hurting this year at shortstop anyway). There are so many players who will take the field for this year’s game who grew up watching Jeter play. They called him their favorite player once upon a time and part of their passion and love of the game stems from what he has during his 19-year career.
The fans who have loved and hated him – yet who still seem to respect him – should get a moment to reflect on his career without any other games going on that day. He hit his 3,400th career hit in Sunday’s game – territory currently held by fewer than 10 players in MLB history.
Jeter is going to the All Star Game because the fans voted him in. Baseball fans. Not casual fans or stathead fans, but baseball fans. Certain players will get this kind of treatment in their swan song just as Cal Ripken Jr., and Mariano Rivera did in their final seasons.
There is nothing wrong with Jeter going to the All Star Game except that ASG still matters in ways it should not.
(Photo courtesy of AP)