Derek Jeter doesn’t need us to worry about him. He’s doing just fine. And he’s been playing under near-psychotic levels of scrutiny for most of his career. But whereas for the last 15 or so years everyone’s been staring at him waiting for him to do something amazing… now people are staring at him and waiting for him to do poorly. Not necessarily wanting it, but expecting it, because he’s at that age and because we’ve all seen how this goes with superstar athletes. I can’t imagine it’s easy trying to do your job while millions of people are watching and waiting for missteps, but then Jeter wouldn’t be who he is if wasn’t able to block that out.
The specific article that got me thinking about this was Ian O’Connor’s for ESPN New York, where asks Jeter about his much-hyped new swing. The quote that caught people’s attention:
In that context, Jeter’s first 14 at bats are worthy of serious scrutiny, even from the captain himself. On his way into work Monday, unhappy over his early parade of ground balls, Jeter told himself he was through fretting over the changes hitting coach Kevin Long made in his footwork, reducing his front-foot stride to no stride at all.
“I just said the heck with it,” Jeter said. “I wasn’t going to think about it. … Before you’re trying to think about where your foot is and you’re trying not to move it, and it’s just too much to think about. So today I tried not to.”
That got re-reported and sent around as “Jeter gives up on new stride already,” but I don’t know that he meant that – I thought he was just saying he was trying to stop thinking about it, but that he would keep doing it. (That was always my strategy in beer pong. Don’t think, you’ll only hurt the ball club!). Anyway, we’ll find out tonight if the weather holds – and in any case Jeter’s batting stride is not the most important issue facing America right now, or even the Yankees. Derek Jeter doesn’t need anyone’s sympathy, but between the whole 3,000 hit drama and everyone staring at his every movement to see if he still “has it,” I do think it could be a tough season for the captain.