Monday September 08, 2014
A Blah Baseball Year Everywhere, Roger? Or Just in New York?
The New Yorker put Derek Jeter on its cover last week with a nice illustration by longtime contributor Mark Ulriksen. It's the classic, from-behind, baseball farewell shot. It's how we've done it ever since Nat Fein of The New York Herald Tribune captured this shot of Babe Ruth, dying, in 1948. It's also, not coincidentally, the look they give us as they exit the field: their back, their number, then gone.
Roger Angell also has a piece on Jeter in the issue and so I saved it for the weekend, assuming it was a feature. It's not. It's a “Talk of the Town” piece. Maybe Angell, in his 90s now, ready for his own farewell photo, doesn't do features anymore. Maybe The New Yorker had already done enough features on Jeter. Whatever the reason, it's short, an easy read. Angell describes Jeter's pre-batting ritual well (“the cop-at-a-crossing right hand ritually lifted astern ...”) and the extent of his celebrity. But then he gives us this:
He's not having a great year, but then neither are the Yanks, who trail the Orioles ... It's been a blah baseball year almost everywhere, and, come to think of it, watching Derek finish might be the best thing around.
A blah baseball year everywhere? I don't know, Roger. Tell it to fans in Baltimore. Tell it to fans in Washington, D.C., or Anaheim or LA. Tell it to me and my friends in Seattle, who are discussing the Mariners in August and September for the first time in more than a decade. Tell it to the long-suffering Kansas City Royals fan, whose team, Tyler Kepner reminds us today, hasn't been in the postseason since Derek Jeter was in sixth grade. Tell it to Joe Posnanski.
In fact, I think you've got it backwards. Any year in which the Yankees flounder and don't make the playoffs is an exceptional baseball year almost everywhere else.