Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Selig does serious Jeter damage control

Bud Selig did serious damage control yesterday after an unnamed Major League Baseball official criticized Derek Jeter for skipping the All-Star game. It was a wise move on the commissioner's part.

When baseball players and pundits couldn't wait to jump on the Jeter-bashing bandwagon, Selig stepped up to voice his unequivocal support for the New York Yankees shortstop. The commissioner claimed that he had no problem at all with Jeter taking several days off following his historic, but exhausting and pressure-filled pursuit of 3,000 hits.

I don't know if Selig truly believes what he was saying, but he was very convincing. I doubt that the commissioner was happy about Jeter's decision to skip the game (the unnamed official may have been voicing the commissioner's true feelings), but Selig is smart enough to know that he cannot let baseball's best role model take that kind of heat.

But this shouldn’t have even become an issue. Selig can’t control what players, former players and media guys say about Jeter, but he should have told his own people to keep their mouths shut. Jeter has been and done everything MLB could have ever asked for and the one time he skips the game for some much-needed rest should not have become a bigger controversy because of that anonymous quote (and I’m truly sick of sportswriters and other reporters allowing sources anonymity just to take gratuitous shots at other people—insist it’s on the record or don’t allow them to take such cheap shots).

I’m sure Jeter is unhappy that his decision has become so controversial and he is the last person Selig & Co want to alienate. The commissioner better hope Jeter is more forgiving than usual or he might find himself getting the Alex Rodriguez treatment for a few years.

I’m truly surprised at the level of criticism Jeter is facing by a lot of people who have no idea what it feels like to be under that kind of pressure. I can’t blame the Yankees Captain for wanting some time away from all the negativity. Selig was wise to come to Jeter’s defense and I hope the commissioner’s comments temper some of this unfair criticism. But I seriously doubt it. Jeter is way too easy a target these days.

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