I said "oh, c'mon!" when I heard that explanation. Put it this way - it's not like Sheppard's funeral arrangements were a state secret. Not only did his Catholic diocese send out a press release with the details, but the info was in every New York paper. And no, it wasn't a private, family-only funeral, so that excuse for why Jeter wasn't there doesn't hold water, either. According to that press release:
On Thursday at 10:15 a.m., a Liturgy of Remembrance will be celebrated for Bob Sheppard. Members of his family, the Sisters of St. Joseph, The New York Yankees and The New York Giants will remember Mr. Sheppard’s life.As not just a member of the New York Yankees, but the team captain, Jeter should have been there to represent the Yankees, especially given that he has made such a big deal over using Sheppard's voice to announce his name at every game. The captain even referenced that in his pre-game explanation of why he wasn't at the funeral:
..."I don’t think you have to go to a funeral to honor someone. I think a lot of players have honored him. It’s the reason I’ve walked up to a recording of his voice for the last few years and I’ll continue to do that every time I go to the plate for the rest of my career. But I was not aware. I don’t know how many other players were aware of it."Oh, please. Is it that difficult to read the paper, or ask the Yankee front office when the funeral was? This is just a bad excuse. And if it were given by anybody other than Jeter, he would be getting reamed for it.
I've heard the excuse that the players didn't really know Sheppard, which is why none of them were there. That may hold water with guys like Nick Swisher, but Jeter is the one - the only one - who gets to use the Sheppard recording of his voice. There's even a specific one for him talking at the microphone, as we found out last night.
Speaking of those recordings, can you imagine what the outcry would be in the media if, say, Alex Rodriguez had had Sheppard record his voice for A-Rod-specific announcements, and used his voice to introduce him every night? We'd hear how self-aggrandizing such a gesture was. We'd hear how he's insulting Paul Olden, the current public address announcer, by not being like everybody else and having his name said by him. But Jeter has the Sheppard recordings - and intends on using them for the rest of his career - and people praise him for the classy gesture.
Yes, Derek did a great job at the microphone last night in paying tribute to both Bob Sheppard and George Steinbrenner. But it would have been nice for the captain to have been at Sheppard's funeral as well, or at least to have more of a plausible excuse for not being there other than that he "didn't know" about it.
Coming later today - my thoughts on the tribute, and the game. But in the meantime, tell us what you think!