"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Tension Tamer

“It was a good game all the way around, and I don’t ever want to play it again.” Joe Torre

My girlfriend Emily loves baseball. She enjoys listening to the first couple of innings on the radio as she drives home from work. Then she settles in with me to catch the rest of it when he gets home. Em appreciates the Yankees win or lose and tolerates my pouting, shouting and other assorted pessimistic behavior as the game unfolds. Quite frankly, she still doesn’t understand why I let myelf get so upset when things don’t go well, and perhaps she never will. But most of the time now she lets me act the fool without much commentary. A typical scene goes like this: A Yankee hitter has two strikes on him. I predict a strikeout before the pitch reaches the plate, sometimes standing up and walking out of the room as I’m speaking. Emily always thinks the Yankees will do okay in the end. She also believes that it’s plain bad karma to articulate negative thoughts like I do. But she’s got a kind heart, bless her. Whenever something good does go down, as it did last night, she doesn’t gloat or rub it in. It’s gotten to the point where she doesn’t even say anything. I just glare at her out of the corner of my eye and she gives me a look that says “I told you so, you big dope.”

Before the Yankees pulled out a 5-4 victory in the bottom of the ninth last night, I was in fine form, gloom-and-doom all the way. As Joe Torre said about the current wildcard chase, “It’s good for baseball, it’s bad for my stomach.” Last night, the Yankees seemingly wasted a good outing from Al Leiter (they can’t expect him to pitch much better), saw Taynon Sturtze and Mariano Rivera come up lame in relief, Derek Jeter muff a difficult but makable play in the ninth, Alex Rodriguez fail with runners in scoring position in the eighth, Gary Sheffield go hitless on the night, and yet they still pulled out the win. Hideki Matsui came through with a clutch home run in the ninth and Felix Escalona had the game-winning knock later in the inning.

I like how Tyler Kepner put it in the Times this morning:

The Yankees have had a handful of hard-luck losses this season, games that they probably should have won but somehow found a way to throw away. If the Yankees do not make the playoffs, the thinking goes, they will look back at those defeats with tremendous regret.

Last night’s game, tense from start to finish, was different. They easily could have lost it but fought back from three deficits. If they make the playoffs, they will surely remember last night.

The Indians beat the Devil Rays while the A’s lost to the Tigers (the Sox also won). Cleveland and New York are now tied for the wildcard lead with Oakland just a game back.

Clutch Enuff?

Here are some numbers to consider. This is what some of the Yankees best hitters are doing this season with runners in scoring position:

Sheffield (.390/.477/.748)
Matsui (.310/.364/.493)
Jeter (.243/.370/.350)
Rodriguez (.269/.390/.448)
Giambi (.267/.461/.373)
Posada (.228/.322/.455)
Williams (.278/.360/.378)

Here is what the same hitters are doing with runners in scoring position and two out:

Sheffield (.304/.418/.543)
Matsui (.277/.365/.466)
Jeter (.222/.364/.333)
Rodriguez (.279/.421/.508)
Giambi (.258/.452/.323)
Posada (.085/.246/.106)
Williams (.319/.448/.468)

Finally, in close and late situations:

Sheffield (.250/.338/.321)
Matsui (.345/.441/.707)
Jeter (.286/.359/.414)
Rodriguez (.305/.446/.542)
Giambi (.175/.377/.425)
Posada (.268/.414/.339)
Williams (.203/.310/.441)

I’m far from a whiz with numbers but these are the three categories that seem to be the most important when determining how effective a hitter has been in the clutch. If I’m missing something, feel free to chime in and let me know. But judging from these numbers, Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui and Alex Rodriguez are the team’s best clutch hitters. Rodriguez struck out in a key spot last night (he fouled off a 2-2 fastball that was his pitch to nail) and has been stuck with a reputation as a poor clutch performer. Personally, I feel more comfortable with Sheffield and Matsui at the plate in big situations, but I think Rodriguez is unfairly criticized while Jeter and Posada get a pass. I realize a lot this has to do with past performance and lofty expectations, but Rodriguez has had plenty of huge at bats for the Yankees this year.

On the Run

On a sad note, Dwight Gooden is on the lamb. Gooden was pulled over earlier Tuesday morning by Police in Florida. He refused to submit to cooperate with the offiers, who suspected that he was intoxicated, before fleeing the scene. He has yet to turn himself in. Gary Sheffield, his nephew, told reporters:

“It’s just one of those things when he hurts, I hurt.”

…”I’ve done pretty much everything you could possibly do,” Sheffield said. “It just comes to a point where you have to let him go through what he’s got to go through. Sometimes, it is God’s plan for us to back off and let him do it, because the family has tried everything.”
(N.Y. Times)

This is not a new story but it remains a troubling and sad one.

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1 joe in boston   ~  Aug 24, 2005 6:11 am

1.  Very nice win. I posted a couple weeks ago that we were going to have to win these tough games to stay in it. A few thoughts:

1. Very nice game by Leiter - he deserved the win.

2. It kills me to see Jeter so off-balance on the outside pitches. What's up with that ?

3. Nice pinch running/scoring by Woemack.
but do you mean to tell me that his Little League coach never told him to protect the plate with 2 strikes ?!

4. Always nice to see the Yanks celebrate a win isn't it ?! Love the handshakes/slaps

5. Didn't you feel good for Escalona? Makes you believe that baseball still IS a kids game.

Sorry for getting corny - this season has been alot of ups and downs and the final 6 weeks are going to be something else I think

2 jkay   ~  Aug 24, 2005 6:27 am

2.  Take A-Rod's stats with a grain of salt. He padded the numbers against Shilling.

3 Knuckles   ~  Aug 24, 2005 6:28 am

3.  My Wednesday morning ramblings...I didn't watch a minute of the game last night due to softball, so it was nice to read the huge game thread on this site this morning- really gives me a good feel for the tempo and flow of the game, and most of the posters seem to share the similar rants and raves that I have myself, Yankee-wise.

Good article on Hardball Times this morning about the AL wild card (link below). They correctly identify that although the NYY offense looks great on paper, it is rather bunched up and has been streaky this year. They give less credit to the rotation, which I think has been as awesome as could be expected given all the duct tape and chicken wire that's holding it together. No mention of Jaret Wright, either.

The Yanks have a pretty even home/road split left (18/20) and face an overwhelmingly weaker schedule than the A's, Tribe, and Twinkies (see the details toward the bottom of the article.) It's this, plus the fact that Cleveland is so young, as is the A's rotation, that leads me to believe we are in as good shape as you could hope for going down the stretch.


PS- Softball related. We got our asses handed to us by a squad of veteran softballers last night, a bunch of late 30's guys whom we could pretty much pants in any sport but the one we played them in. Nothing but line drives where we ain't and opposite field dinks- frustrating as hell.

PPS- If I'm pushing 40 years old, wearing Under Armor from head to toe, have a Nomar-esque between-pitches routine, and batting with an exact copy of Tony Batista's stance in a Tuesday night beer league- shoot me.

4 Yanks in NH   ~  Aug 24, 2005 6:29 am

4.  Great game - these are the ones they need to be winning if we're going to make the postseason!

When we fell behind, my first thought was "Damn, we're going lose a great performance by Leiter," but then I thought "no, they're going to pull this one out - somehow." Way to come through Escalona!

5 Shaun P   ~  Aug 24, 2005 6:43 am

5.  I like what the numbers say, Alex. The only change I'd make is to add the number of PAs (if possible) so we could see how often each guy has faced those situations. I'd be willing to bet A-Rod and Sheff have more PAs with RISP etc than the others - but I'm curious to see if that's true.

I think the "A-Rod isn't clutch" crap is almost entirely due to Games 4-7 of last year's ALCS. Probably it won't go away until A-Rod comes up with some very big LCS or WS hits, like he did in the ALDS against the Twins - a series that many people seem to forget.

6 sam2175   ~  Aug 24, 2005 6:49 am

6.  Alex, right there with you with A-Rod and clutch.

I think the way Yankee fans have looked at Rodriguez is someone who is not their own. He is someone some Yankee fan would say "Hey ya hotshot best player in the game earning 250 millions, can you pull a on a big spot?"

This is no knock on Jeter, the guy is one of my favorite Yankees (Bernie will probably top the list always, but still). But if someone wishes to criticize A-Rod so much and just look at the numbers with RISP and late in the game and remembers only the occassions where he struck out with bases loaded, I thhink that is grossly unfair.

I am more inclined to remember the game against Indians where we were looking at a series sweep in the ninth against Wickman. A-Rod hits a HR to tie it. Against Boston, A-Rod hits a HR in the ninth to inflict a deflating loss on the Sox and folk hero Curt Schilling. And last year against Twins? It was his clutch, his hustle and his instincts that won the series for us.

7 sam2175   ~  Aug 24, 2005 6:52 am

7.  Uhh, that should read "...Can you pull a Jeter(or insert any Yankee clutch God)..." etc.

8 bp1   ~  Aug 24, 2005 7:00 am

8.  Alex,

A couple weeks ago, I whined that I don't have the stamina for a lengthy pennant race. I was with you, last night, joined in gloom and doom after the Jay scored in the 9th. Each loss is like an end-of-the-world event. They hit really hard.

Then something like the bottom half of the inning happens, and once again there is hope.

Man, someone said the Yankees play 162 seasons a year. Geez, no kidding.

Yo Joe in Boston - You're right about it still being a kid's game. A-Rod and Jeter's reaction after the Matsui homer. A-Rod's bear hug of Escalona after he hit The Hit. The big sh*t eating grin on Posada's face, as someone gave him a big shove. Those are great moments.

This $208 million collection of talent and egos is hardening nicely into a team. Can't you see it? I can. It's great.

9 rbj   ~  Aug 24, 2005 7:06 am

9.  Nice win.
Is Escalona going to be this year's Luis Sojo, getting the clutch hit?

10 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 24, 2005 7:21 am

10.  Escalona's got a ways to go before he becomes the next Luis Sojo (he needs to trip over his shoelaces between innings for starters). It was nice to see the smiles and happy faces after the win. Yes, it is a business, and yes, we are pretty cynical about our athletes, but essentially, watching them boils down to us loving that adolescent energy, happiness, bonding. American men are criticized for never growing up. Sometimes sports keeps us immature in the worst way, while other times it reminds us of being young in the best of ways.

By the way, Josh Towers reminds me of John Olerud. He's got a great face, worthy of a David Levine (The New York Review of Books) drawing.

Lastly, has anyone else been as impressed with Aaron Hill as I have? Ken Singleton said that his stance reminded him a bit of Ron Cey, squat and compact with very quick hands. His hands really are quick. He looks scrubby as hell, but he sure can hit.

Speaking of which, I see my boy Johnny Gomes continues to play well.

11 Bob B   ~  Aug 24, 2005 7:51 am

11.  As an ex A-Rod basher, I admit I have changed my mind. He's definitely clutch where Jeter and Posado haven't been this season.

12 KJC   ~  Aug 24, 2005 7:56 am

12.  Not related to this game, but just an FYI related to this site (more for the Baseball Toaster folks): the RSS feed (http://rss.baseballtoaster.com/blogs/bronxbanter.xml) doesn't seem to be updating anymore -- 8/22 is the last published date.

13 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 24, 2005 8:23 am

13.  Bunch of things:

* The combo of rookies Aaron Hill and Russ Adams on the left side of the Blue Jay infield is fantastic. The only problem is the Jays are starting Koskie (.237 GPA to Hill's .265) over Hill at third, so this would-be Rookie of the Year is riding pine. Unforgivable.

* RBJ, Escalona's hit last night did make me think of Sojo's World Series winning single off Al Leiter in 2000, but Escalona's was a clean rip and Sojo's was a 900-bounce seeing eye job. Speaking of Sojo, his big trip over his own foot came in a key spot late in Game 5 against the A's in that year's ALDS, costing the Yanks an out they very much needed. It's only funny now because the Yanks got the next man out and won the series.

* As for clutch, it would probably be most informative to compare the above stats to the players' overall numbers (on the year or even on their career). Clutch means that a payer is better in a tight spot. Sheffield and Rodriguez are the team's best hitters so they should have the best stats in "clutch" situations. That doesn't make them clutch, it only means they're not chokers. The only numbers above that scream clutch to me are Sheffield's with RISP and Matsui's close and late, which matches my subjective observation of those two players.

Conversely, there are no numbers up there that are truly awful other than Posada's RISP w/ 2 outs, which again matches my selective memory. I suppose you could add Sheffield close and late, but he gets a pass for his fantastic RISP stats.

As for Rodriguez, he had terrible RISP numbers last year through late July (if I remember correctly) and went 1 for 17 in the season's first series against the Red Sox. That got him painted as a poor "clutch performer." While I do have less faith in Rodriguez in clutch situations than I do in Sheffield and Matsui, that has more to do with the excellence of the latter two players than the shortcomings of the former. Rodriguez does just fine. As Mr. Belth pointed out, he was money against the Twins in the ALDS, and as Shawn P suggests, Rodriguez bats with runners on so frequently that it's easy to remember the many times he's failed if that's what you're looking for. That's how this game works. Even the best will fail often enough for those with selective memories to think they're seeing something they're not.

For example, Rodriguez went 2 for 17 in the final four games of the ALCS, but he went 15 for 33 in the first seven postseason games against the Twins and Red Sox. So he hit .340 overall in the postseason last year and is a a career .330 postseason hitter, well above his regular season .286 average or even his then career .305 average. Still, people use last year's postseason to paint Rodriguez as a poor clutch performer, forgetting that over those final four games against Boston those bastions of clutch Sheffield and Matsui went 1 for 17 and 5 for 19 respectively.

Actually, with the rest of his team collapsing around him (save Jeter and Cairo, who were the only Yankees to hit better in the final four games of the ALCS than they did in the first three), that .263 average by Matsui over those final four games isn't bad at all. That seems right, as Matsui is one of the few players that I honestly do believe elevates his game in clutch situations. Robin Ventura did it as well, but clutch is much more rare than common parlance would have you believe.

14 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 24, 2005 8:40 am

14.  "...clutch is much more rare than common parlance would have you believe."

That is a terrific point. I could not agree more.

15 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 24, 2005 9:23 am

15.  KJC, the RSS feed has been fixed. Thanks for letting us know about the problem.

16 Joe in NYC   ~  Aug 24, 2005 9:58 am

16.  That's what drives me nuts about A-Rod and the whole clutch discussion. It is always said that people are on his back because he makes $25M a year, but Jeter makes $19.6M! More than everybody but A-Rod, Ramirez, and Bonds. He's not clutch, and he's not nearly as productive as any of them, or many others making less, much less. But the media never brings any of this into discussion.

17 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 24, 2005 10:05 am

17.  Manny and Barry take their lumps too, for sure. It's more an issue of Jeter being an untouchable Golden Boy than of the others getting picked on.

18 Knuckles   ~  Aug 24, 2005 11:02 am

18.  Jeter has had some incredibly clutch moments in the past that stand out in everyone's mind (rightly or wrongly). That, plus the fact that his contract was probably more than paid for in "Jeter 2" t-shirt sales to teenaged girls by the time the ink was dry, makes it easier for people to not take him to task when he doesn't come thru in the clutch.

19 murphy   ~  Aug 24, 2005 11:11 am

19.  i have two lines of defense on jeter's paycheck:

1) the classic: you're also paying for the intangibles.

2) the logical: when jeter signed that contract, it seemed that salaries would continute to climb at the ridiculous rate that they were moving at at the time. the yankees (and most fans and i) figured that by the end of the contract jeter would still be fairly young and the 19.6 would seem like a steal. since the baseball world has started to move back towards reality after the scam boras/arod pulled off, a contract like jeter's suddenly seems a little more outlandish.

20 sam2175   ~  Aug 24, 2005 11:26 am

20.  If marketability and intangibles are allowed to be part of salary (and I believe, they should be), Hideki Matsui should be the highest paid player on the Yankee roster. I am pretty sure he is the highest individual revenue earner for the Yankees, and is highly valuable as a player.

Does anyone else think that Roger Clemens has done a great job of shutting up everyone who talked about his arbitration demands? I believe he has been worth more than what he is earning this season, if that is possible. He puts people on seats, keeps Astros in contention, and pitches like something never seen before.

21 mikeplugh   ~  Aug 24, 2005 11:27 am

21.  Joe....

Jeter's not clutch? How long have you been a Yankee fan? Have you watched Jeter play in October?

How many rings do Bonds and Manny have? One, between them. They've been to a combined 3 WS, while Jeter has been to 6 and won 4.

Jeter's career postseason average is .306 over 110 games. He's won 17 of 22 post-season series with some of the biggest moments in recent history to his credit.

Manny Ramirez, in 78 career post-season games, has a .256 average.

Barry Bonds has only played in 48 total post-season games over a 19+ year HOF career. He has a robust .245 average to his name with a whopping 9 home runs.

Jeter has good reason to be considered a golden boy, and I'm sure that I'm not alone in feeling a little protective and somewhat shocked that anyone (particularly a Yankee fan) would have such a short memory of his accomplishments in our uniform.

Do you remember what it was like before he came up to play short? I know that other players were involved in our success, but Jeter isn't the Captain for his rousing lockerroom speeches.

Other Yankee post-season numbers:

Paul O'Neill (85 games, .284 average)
Bernie Williams (115 games, .280 average)
Tino Martinez (95 games, .230 average)
Jorge Posada (83 games, .229 average)
Chuck Knoblauch (66 games, .258 average)
Scott Brosius (58 games, .245 average)

As for the newer Yankees:

Gary Sheffield (36 games, .258 average)
Alex Rodriguez (26 games, .330 average)
Hideki Matsui (28 games, .339 average)
Jason Giambi (31 games, .279 average)

There you have it. The un-clutch Alex Rodriguez boasts a .330 average in October, including numbers that project out over a season to about 100 runs, 200 hits, 40 HRs, and 100 RBIs. Jeter hits .306 and projects out to 115 runs, 200 hits, 20+ HRs, 30+ 2Bs, 20+ SBs, has a handful of baseball history's classic moments on his resume, a WS MVP.....but he's not clutch....Sheesh. What's a guy gotta do in this town to be a walking immortal?

22 sam2175   ~  Aug 24, 2005 11:37 am

22.  mikeplugh,

That was an overly defensive and typical Yankee fan reaction. No one is bashing Jeter here, he deserves a lot of credit for what he has done. But to give him a free pass when he frequently has come up with the last out in the game when the game was still competitive, AND at the same time ragging on Rodriguez for being non-clutch shows unspeakable hypocricy, to say the least.

And Jeter did not win all those WS all by himself, he was an important part of a very good team that won. If we were to accept your logic, the Ted Williams had a completely futile career, because he never won a WS. Would you say the same of the other Yankee clutch God, Don Mattingly? Would you hold it against him that he never won a WS?

Want to really talk about clutch? Let's talk Mariano Rivera, and THEN get back to me about Jeter.

Enough said.

23 mikeplugh   ~  Aug 24, 2005 11:39 am

23.  One more note....

To his credit, Manny Ramirez will finish as the all-time HR leader in post-season play. He has 18 now, and Bernie is not likely to pad his numbers much more.

Bernie is the leader in virtually every statistic in post-season rankings. I know that the lists are super-populated by recent Yankees because we play an extra playoff round now, and the Yankees have a 100-200+ payroll, and the pitching has been great, and all that, but hats off to Bernie and Jeter for getting the big hits that kept the Yanks moving through the playoffs round after round.

It makes what the old Yankees of the 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, and 60's did all the more amazing when you see their names still plastered all over the all-time WS rankings with nary a modern day name between them.

24 mikeplugh   ~  Aug 24, 2005 11:50 am

24.  My un-clutch A-Rod comment was tongue in cheek. I'm just as sick of hearing people bash A-Rod as anyone.

And...you're right that I'm being "overly" defensive. And, yes, I am a typical Yankee fan. That's why I come to post on this board.

That's not my logic at all, by the way....That Ted Williams had a futile career because of his lack of post-season success. That the way YOU take my argument. Think of it this way....Jeter's numbers in the post-season are all the more amazing considering what All-Time great HOF legends have failed to do in their careers. Mattingly included. Great player. Injury plagued career. Not the player that Derek Jeter is....

Mariano is one of my all-time favorites. Without him, we aren't even having this discussion, but it's unrelated to Derek Jeter, because he pitched one or two innings when the Yankees have the lead. He does it better than anyone has ever done it, but Jeter gets him the lead with his bat and protects it with pretty strong defense.

I would say that you are more the typical modern fan, who can see past yesterday and succumb to the "what have you done for me lately" Sportscenter memory blackouts that seem more common than ever. It still boggles my mind that anyone would question Jeter's greatness. He's not even my favorite Yankee.

I'm not trying to fire up an argument actually. I respect the fact that we're all here to share our opinions and we're all entitled to them, but....I'm really shocked when I hear people criticize Jeter. He earns every penny of his paycheck, and then some.

25 KJC   ~  Aug 24, 2005 11:51 am

25.  mikeplugh :

"How many rings do Bonds and Manny have? One, between them."

Rings require a team. Mark Bellhorn got a ring last year -- that doesn't make him better than Bonds. If you're going to talk WS rings, then you have to compare the Yanks vs. the Giants vs. the Sox. If you're talking "clutch," it's all about the individual stats (which, to your credit, you discuss).

"He's won 17 of 22 post-season series"

Correction: He and the Yankees have won 17 of 22 post-season series. You make it sound like that old Bugs Bunny cartoon: "Attention! Now pitching: Derek Jeter. Second base: Derek Jeter. Left field: Derek Jeter..."

Being a "clutch" player doesn't mean how you perform in October -- it's how you perform in a clutch position during any part of the season. So while Jeter has a higher postseason average than Manny, that doesn't necessarily make him more "clutch." (And for the record, I don't consider Manny a clutch hitter -- just a great one. Ortiz is the clutch guy on the Sox.)

And after all that, I have to say that I don't believe in "clutch" anyway...

26 Dimelo   ~  Aug 24, 2005 11:56 am

26.  I was having this same conversation with a friend of mine, who simply remembers ARod hitting a nubber back to Arroyo in the infamous slap play in game 6 of last year's ALCS. I tend to remember the entire body of work. His clutch hitting in the ALDS and his hitting in games 1 - 4. All the Yankees stopped hitting after game 4. It's like people need someone to point to, someone to blame so they blame ARod.

I really think of what Torre said the other day, ARod is just an easy target. Jealous one's envy. ARod probably would be successful in anything if he weren't playing baseball. Manny who has the second highest contract in majors proably would have been lucky to catch a job walking a dog. Basically people find solace in that Ramirez is a dumb ball player. On the other hand, ARod probably would have been their boss or that sales guy who's always booking those million dollar contracts.

I was one of the people who felt ARod let a lot of Yankee fans down last year, but the more I saw him play this year, the more I saw how unselfish his play was and how little credit he gets for doing the right things like running to first (unlike ManRam) - even though those are things you are suppose to do. That's when I started to see the light that a lot of that negative energy is just baseless. People's perception is based off of envy. He's fun to watch and I truly like the way he carries himself.

27 jkay   ~  Aug 24, 2005 11:57 am

27.  Clay Bellenger has 3 rings!

28 sam2175   ~  Aug 24, 2005 12:20 pm

28.  mikeplugh,

Okay, I might have been a bit more fiesty there than was needed. So I need that tone down a bit.

I understand why you have a soft spot for Jeter. Like I said before, he is one of my favorite Yankees, but in terms of what his contribution is, I like to view them as part of teamwork. From what I understood, you gave him more credit than most of his teammates, and that to me is a pushing it a bit. Paul O'Neill deserves every bit of the adulation Jeter gets, as does many others.

That does not discredit the fact that Jeter's reputation is well-deserved. A fantastic hitter, with questionable but effective defense as a SS. But that however, does not immune him from criticism of his less than stellar play when they happen. From your statement, the word that you were "shocked" at criticisms of Jeter a seemed bit too much to me.

I, for one, do not believe that a WS ring is any testament of a player's ability. Post-season series are short series, and they certainly have that competitive one-on-one atmosphere which is great for business, but a marathon 162 game league, played against multitude of opponents is where true greatness could really be measured. Do you really think any one of the Florida Marlins players in 2003, other than Pudge Rodriguez (and maybe Miguel Cabrera and Josh Beckett in the making) would ever qualify for greatness of any measure?

Also, fans are born everyday, and by virtue of that fact, there would be modern fans and old-day fans. More imporant however, are whether fans are blind about worshipping heroes or whether they look at a player and objectively evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. I have no shame in admitting that I admire the heroics of David Ortiz, even though Yankees are the team I love, and hence, the team that is most killed by his heroics. Maybe that's why my admiration of Jeter does not forbid me from making an objective assessment of his quality as a plyer, and not the fact that I have been a fan for x number of days.

Jeter's paycheck covers not only his worth on the field, but also how much of a crowd puller he is. The economics of the salary merits an objective evaluation of this entire thing, and I would admit that I do believe he is not as overpaid as he is made out to be, if he is overpaid at all. But, as a baseball fan, I would want to make an objective assessment of Jeter and his place in Yankee history and the contemporary team. While his contribution this season has been solid, he has failed to elevate his game to his normal average when it has mattered (or clutch, if you would have it that way). That doesn't take away from his past accomplishments. His past accomplishments does not make him a better player than he is today either.

29 joe in boston   ~  Aug 24, 2005 12:34 pm

29.  Really interesting comments especially regarding Arod, Jeter, Bernie, World Series Rings, etc. That's the stuff that makes this site so great. Especially with ESPN being practically all-pay now. I love Gammons, but refuse to "sign up" to read him....
Around here, people (Sox fans) HATE Arod.
The whole broken deal with Texas/Sox and Arroyo drama thing.... you know though, he is real sweet to watch. That effortless swing and just plain ol' GUN at 3rd base.

I've said it here before regarding Jeter. He simply plays the game the right way. He is an example to my kids on how to put the pinstripes on and work hard and NOT make excuses. The other thing I always say about him, albeit a simple one, is that his uniform is always dirty at the end of the game. I am a teacher and coach (high school level) and even if I weren't a Yankee fan, I'd appreciate his game. These clowns around here can have their Manny crap, Damon Idiocy, Camera-on-Schilling, etc.

30 Joe in NYC   ~  Aug 24, 2005 1:04 pm

30.  Hmmm, I hardly meant to piss anyone off, but mikeplugh, if you really believe in clutch (which I kind of sort of do), why does Jeter qualify as such?

This is a real question, I am not being a smart-guy. Jeter is definitely not a choker: the fact that his averages and projections from post-season play (which you deserve credit for providing) are right on his career average marks speaks to that. In addition, I can remember him having some big moments in the post-season: the HRs against Baltimore and Arizona, the shuffle pass against the A's. There are many, some hazy, since he arrived in New York in 1995.

That is all good for him and the New York Yankees, but I cannot think of a time where he picked up the team and (near single-handedly) carried the team on his shoulders to victory, which is how you describe his story: "He's won 17 of 22 post-season series with some of the biggest moments in recent history to his credit."

Sure, he had some big moments, but he has had some failings, too. I wish this blog, or maybe RLYW, would post and continue to count the number of times this year Jeter has had a chance to WIN the game, this, the first year since 1997 the Yankees are in danger of missing the playoffs and thus needing their clutch-god more than ever. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least a half a dozen. Which is to say nothing of moments like last night, when he had an opportunity in the 8th to put the Yankees ahead and struck out and then made the throw pulling Escalona off the bag in the 9th, allowing Hudson to reach safely and score the go-ahead run on Rivera.

I can remember moments feeling (not measuring) that players like Rivera, Cone and Hernandez weren't going to let the team lose, but no batter over the years ever came to the plate giving me the impression that they were going to suceed and propel the team forward (although Jeter did have an excellent 2000 post-season), like Pudge in 2003, Bonds in 2002, Jones in 1999, Puckett in 1991, Henderson in 1989, and so on. Those guys dominated.

And Jeter's never really dominated, which I guess is why I am reluctant to hold him above criticism. He was awesome in 1999. From then on, sure, he's played consistently well above average, makes few mistakes, has all the intangibles, but he never elevated his game. I always remember a David Justice comment, when discussing Jeter, that "he would never dominate baseball, because he liked hitting the baseball so much, that he would never really learn HOW to hit." That really stuck with me.

So, I've seen Big Papi, Lee and Pujols dominate this year and last year it was Vlad carrying the Angels on his back. Its been Bonds for years (PEDs or no PEDs). Chipper has done it, and Griffey and ARod, too. But Jeter just isn't dominant.

He's a great player, and a great team player, and Yankee fans are lucky, but he deserves to be discussed and debated, not deified.

31 Simone   ~  Aug 24, 2005 1:12 pm

31.  Great win! Always nice when the scrubs come through. I have to admit that I wasn't too optimistic when Escalona came up to bat. I was yelling when he got that hit though.

The news about Gooden is sad. Drug addiction is simply heartbreaking whether is a famous baseball player or the average person, the destruction of lives is the same.

32 yankz   ~  Aug 24, 2005 1:13 pm

32.  I'm with mikeplugh. There's just something about Jeter that makes him my favorite athlete ever. You know, he "plays the game the right way" (it never gets old for me).

33 aboveavg   ~  Aug 24, 2005 1:37 pm

33.  The botton line is that Jeter, Arod, Sheff and all the rest are going to fail 7 out of 10 time in these "clutch" situations. Whether we see tham as clutch depends on which clutch situations we remeber them succeeding in.

34 Nick from Washington Heights   ~  Aug 24, 2005 1:45 pm

34.  aboveavg, I think the number is more like 6.2 out of 10 times (you have to factor in walks). But, I think you're right. A lot of this has to do with perception. That's baseball fandom for you I guess.

35 randym77   ~  Aug 24, 2005 2:09 pm

35.  "As for clutch, it would probably be most informative to compare the above stats to the players' overall numbers (on the year or even on their career). Clutch means that a payer is better in a tight spot. Sheffield and Rodriguez are the team's best hitters so they should have the best stats in "clutch" situations. That doesn't make them clutch, it only means they're not chokers."

Yes, that's my take on it as well.

Last night on YES, someone said they thought A-rod's problem was that he tries too hard. I think that could be it. He goes up there trying to hit a home run every time.

Matsui, when interviewed after last night's game, said he was not trying to hit a home run. He was just trying to get on base. And he got the game-tying homer.

Jeter held that record for no grand slams for so long. I suspect it is because when he goes up with the bases loaded, he doesn't try for a grand slam, he just tries to get on base, get a run in.

Maybe A-rod should tone it down a little, in the clutch situations. Last night, a couple of walks and a base hit was enough to win the game. You don't need to swing for the fences every time.

36 singledd   ~  Aug 24, 2005 4:34 pm

36.  A few thoughts:
Jete's has been historically clutch. No doubt. Last PS and this year he has underperformed a bit 'in the clutch'.

Players salaries should have absolutely NO bearing on how they are rated. Their salary is what some owner offered to pay them. ARod never said he was worth 25 mil... that's just was T. Hicks offered him.

19. murphy: I believe Jetes was offered 11 mil/yr and was mulling it over, wanting 1 or 2 mil more. Then Hicks stepped in and offered the 1 or 2 SS's better then Jetes 25 mil. Hence, 17 mil/yr.

Mantle has 18 World Series HRs. Now, if you make it to the WS, you get about 2.5 times the ABS in the PS, as just playing in the WS. Think about it. 18 HRs in JUST the World Series.

I am thrilled with yesterdays win. I still think our O, in general, has been weak (considering our talent) in the last 2-3 weeks. Better pitching has held us together.

I think ARod in a generally very decent guy. Because of the money (not his fault) he takes a lot of grief. I am really glad to have him, and hope that he and Jetes can get their friendship back to a high level.

Leiter still has stuff. His only real issue is always nibbling and hence, not throwing enough strikes.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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