Thursday, February 19, 2009

Derek Jeter is finally disappointed with the Steroid Era? What took him so long?

I really didn't want to write a blog entry criticizing Derek Jeter today. After all, he did all the right things in being a good captain in attending Tuesday's press conference, and with him telling the press Wednesday that he supports Alex Rodriguez, saying:

"Our job is to try to support him as he tries to get back on the field and get ready for the season," Jeter said today in his annual spring-training sitdown with the media.

"But he made a mistake, and that's the bottom line. ... He came out and admitted what he did and now it's time to move on."

He also said:

"Even when you have family members that make mistakes and do things wrong, you may be disappointed, but you don't lose respect for them and stop pulling for them."

So far, so good - it's comparable to what he did with teammates Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield and Andy Pettitte with their controversies regarding performance-enhancing drugs. It's what he should say as the team captain to support his teammate.

But then Jeter made a few other comments about PEDs that spurred me to write. Derek, or should I call him Rip Van Jeter, finally noticed - in 2009! - that the steroids issue in baseball is hurting the sport. And he complained about being linked to it. He told the media yesterday:
"One thing that's very irritating and upsets me a lot is when you hear everybody say, 'Well, it's the Steroid Era, everybody's doing it. Well, that's not true. Everybody's making a big deal about the list, 104 players. How many players are in the major leagues? 1,200 players? So everybody wasn't doing it."
I agree that not everybody was doing steroids, but this quote is a bit much, given that all the players were given a heads-up in 2003 about this steroids test, but 104 players still failed it. Contrary to what Jeter is implying, that doesn't mean only 104 players were using.

Newsday's Wallace Matthews had this followup for the captain:
I asked Jeter yesterday if in retrospect, he had any regrets about not going to the players association, or even the media, with his concerns about drug abuse ruining the game he loves, and more importantly, staining the reputations of its clean players simply by association with the Other Guys.
"In retrospect, I think a lot of people would've maybe tried to do some things differently," he said. "But you can't go back eight, 10 years and change what's already been done."
Eight years? Why not go back four months, to when Jeter was seen on national TV hanging out with reported steroid user Roger Clemens on the sidelines of a University of Texas football game and posing for pictures together? I mean, really. Texas Monthly had Clemens as their Bum Steer of the Year, and a Houston hospital removed the Rocket's name from their Sports Medicine wing. And Jeter's still publicly schmoozing with this pariah?

I guess some might see it as admirable for Jeter to be a loyal friend to Roger, but at the time, Derek shouldn't complain about being linked to the Steroid Era when he continues to buddy it up with one of the era's poster boys, especially when they're not even teammates anymore.

And the captain had a bit of a head-in-the-sand approach after the Mitchell Report was released in December 2007, saying about Clemens:

"Seems like now people are rushing to judgment and I think you have to let it play out a little bit before you make your decision on whether he's guilty or not," Jeter said.

Asked if he stands by Clemens, Jeter said "Yeah. Rocket's always been a great teammate. I've said that time in and time out, that he's a great teammate. I didn't like him too much when I played against him because he has always been very competitive. But he's always been a great teammate."

Barry Bonds, another poster boy of the Steroid Era, was never a Jeter teammate, but he also got Derek's support on national TV. In May 2006, the captain Jeter defended Bonds on "The Late Show With David Letterman" and essentially told America to leave Barry Bonds alone:
"The thing is because there's all these (steroid) accusations, and no one knows, so unless you have proof, then stop accusing him. I mean, he's done some great things in the game, he's about to pass Babe Ruth with all-time home runs and, you know, it's putting baseball in a bad light because they keep talking about it."
This was after BALCO, and after "Game of Shadows" was released. How much more proof did Jeter need? Not to mention that he essentially claims then that the problem wasn't players doing steroids, but the media talking about it!

When asked yesterday whether Jeter would want the other 103 names of positive steroid testers revealed, he said no:

“What’s that going to do,” he asked. “It’s just going to be another story and another black eye for the sport. I don’t think people should go around and ask everybody if they’re on that list, because it’s supposed to be anonymous....There were a few people in this era taking steroids, but it wasn’t the steroid era,” he said.
If Derek really believes that it was just "a few people in this era taking steroids," then denial isn't just a river in Egypt!

* * *

One programming note - forgive me for not squawking yesterday during a big Yankee news day. I was getting surgery for a recent medical issue, and I'm now on the 15-day disabled list, so to speak. But fortunately, after a few pitches on flat ground, I'm up to squawking a little.

Speaking of the DL, perhaps the only revelation from Joe Torre's "The Yankee Years" that amused me was this one, when Mussina told Tom Verducci this in the spring of 2007:

"Our problem right now is we have too many pitchers on the 15-day Pavano. That's what it's officially called now. Did you know that? The Pavano.

"His body just shut down from actually pitching for six weeks. It's like when you get an organ transplant and your body rejects it. His body rejected pitching. It's not used to it."

Coming later today - my review of "Confessions of a She-Fan." But in the meantime, what do you think about Derek Jeter? Leave us a comment!


Anonymous said...

I have to say I never thought I'd be reading negative stories about the sainted Captain Jeter......but I agree Lisa, he should have stood up long ago and said enough. I don't believe for one minute he hasn't seen stuff going on right in his own clubhouse, just like I don't believe Torre when he says he never knew about anyone doing it...that is a load of **** and we all know it.

"Nutball Gazette" said...

I have to agree that Saint Derek does not come across well here. Him and many in the union wanted nothing to do with testing and I think many still do not want HGH testing.

If you heard interviews with Former Union Head Marvin Miller that if he was still the head of the Union there would have never been testing to this day.

I also heard that Bob Nightengale had a article in the LA Times in "1995" talking about Steroids and Frank Thomas and Tony Gwynn said there was a problem and Bud "Light" Selig said he was unaware of any Steroid problems in Baseball

Anonymous said...

Sorry folks if you want to beat up on "El Capitan" for not coming up to defend Alex a couple of years ago when he was struggling that's ok but to rip him for the Steroid Era? Yes he's one of the biggest names in the game but he's not the only one who could/should/didn't speak up. What about Greg Maddux,Griffey,Puljos,Ortiz(oh NOW he has something to say after his boy Alex has been outed)or any number of other prominent players in the game who haven't spoken up in the past 8 years. Like it or not they're ALL guilty in one way or the other. But until it hits the guy in his wallet; nothings going to change. "Money talks"....

Anonymous said...

I agree, what took Derek Jeter so long to say something about the "steroid era"... It is amazing that Derek Jeter and others in baseball is calling what A-Rod did and others a mistake. How can this be a mistake?!?! They purposefully used these steroids to gain fame, money and prestige..What I find is also funny is that men will never go against another man or men when one or more have been accused of wrong doing. They will stand by that person's side and defend them to the hilt. It is a shame that no one in baseball will take a stand against using steroids. It is cheating in no unlikely terms. If there are 1200 people in baseball all together and not everyone is using steroids according to Jeter, then why A-Rod and others felt the need to use it. I personally believe that all baseball players are using steroids. They are friends and they belong to same faternity.

John said...

Hi Lisa,
I agree, the team needs to get ready for the upcoming season. Let's put the A-Rod mistake behind us and move on. The country has more to worry about today then the "Steroids" mistake A-Rod made years ago. Take care Lisa, great story.

John Doherty

Anonymous said...

Absolutely correct.Thank you for this great article. Jeter still dosen't get it. He has made huge money from his "clean" image but yet he dosen't want to be questioned about behavior which is completely contrary to that image. He thinks he is above being questioned about steroids. Just remeber Lance Armstrong has never tested positive either.Yet.

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