Baseball BeatOctober 08, 2004
Bronx Banter
By Rich Lederer

Alex Belth asked me to convey the comments I shared with him about Derek Jeter in our telephone conversation Wednesday night after the Yankees beat the Twins in extra innings. He was interested in my "objective opinion" (is that an oxymoron?) on Jeter given that I am an outsider with no reason to like or dislike him.

The Man Some Love to Love and Others Love to Hate was posted on Alex's Bronx Banter site this morning and, not surprisingly, it has generated the type of responses one would expect when discussing Jeter.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Finding fault in Jeter's game is similar to finding fault with Ichiro Suzuki. Jeter can't field and Suzuki can't hit for power. Don't mind the fact that Derek can hit for average, hit for power, and steal bases. Forget the fact that Ichiro can hit for a very high average, steal bases, and field and throw with the best of them. Let's concentrate on what they can't do rather than what they can do. It's kind of like looking at the Mona Lisa and questioning the slight smile rather than the overall beauty and elegance of the portrait.

Speaking of Ichiro, did anyone catch Gary Sheffield's comments in Tom Verducci's article "Swinging Away," which appears in the October 11, 2004 issue of Sports Illustrated?

"Two hundred singles? Come on. That doesn't make you a great hitter. If I didn't care about hitting the ball hard and hitting it out of the park, I'd hit you singles all day long. Any guy can go out there and get a single if that's all you try for. I ain't impressed."

Well, give me a player who can hit a single every time up, and I will show you the best player in the history of baseball. No? Do you know anyone with a 1.000 OBP and a 1.000 SLG? Even Barry Bonds in his best years (.609 OBP in 2004 and .863 SLG in 2001) has never come close to achieving either of these two marks.

By the way, I'm not suggesting that Suzuki is a better hitter than Sheffield. I wrote an article last January singing Gary's praises before it became fashionable to do so. It's a fact, Sheff has had an outstanding career. However, he always seems to find himself embroiled in some type of controversy and his comments directed toward Ichiro as well as Pedro Martinez and his (current) teammate Alex Rodriguez in Verducci's article are unlikely to find him in good stead with his peers.

[Reader comments are available at Bronx Banter and Baseball Primer.]


It was nice of Sports Illustrated to mention in the article how Sheffield is a religious guy. Typical of all the religious hypocrites who love to badmouth decent, hard-working people like Ichiro.