Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jeter gets unfair flak for skipping All-Star game

Derek Jeter is not the only member of the New York Yankees who will skip the All-Star festivities to get some much-needed rest, but he seems to be getting the most flak for that decision.

There is a growing sentiment among some baseball observers that Jeter is obligated to attend the All-Star game even though he will not play to allow his calf injury to continue to heal. The thought is that Jeter owes the fans at least an appearance at the game, even if he does not plan to play, because the fans were kind enough to vote him in as the starting shortstop despite his sub-par year. The jeers for Jeter have gotten louder since he went 5 for 5 and blew past the 3,000th hit mark on Saturday, which some have taken as evidence that his calf is well enough to play baseball without restrictions. The backlash is somewhat surprising to me, and quite frankly unfair, considering that Jeter has never before declined to participate in an All-Star game and just got off the disabled list a week ago, but everything Jeter-related tends to be controversial these days.

CC Sabathia is vacationing in the Bahamas with his family (kind of jealous because I’ve never been there), yet he is not taking any heat so far from his decision to skip the All-Star game. Maybe that's because he was snubbed in the initial selections, was only named to the team as a replacement two days ago (well after he made his vacation plans) and can't pitch anyway since his gem on Sunday.

My feeling is that Jeter and the rest of the New York Yankees (and players from other teams as well) are under no obligation to play in the All-Star game and well within their rights to turn down the invitation, particularly if they are nursing a recent injury. I don't even have a problem with CC wanting to spend more time with his kids (baseball players are away from their families for too long during the regular season). I don't think we have any right to demand that Jeter and Sabathia get on a plane to Arizona (where it will be brutally hot and uncomfortable) just to wave to the fans.

I understand the disappointment that some fans may feel over not seeing these great Yankees in the game, especially if they paid a lot of money for those tickets. But the All-Star game is an exhibition, despite the "This time it counts" mantra of having the game decide home-field advantage in the World Series, and the players have every right to pass on the entire spectacle if they wish.

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