Derek Jeter was a great hitter and a below-average defensive shortstop during his career, but because he played for the New York Yankees during a championship window he got more exposure than other similar players could hope to achieve. I was a little cranky watching almost every single BBWAA writer vote him into the Hall of Fame this offseason, not because he shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame, but because the idea that he might go in as the second unanimous player ever was absurd. Kudos to the brave soul that left him off their ballot. Yankees fans were already insufferable enough.
So I seriously thought I was being trolled when I saw this MLB Network announcement earlier today:
64 consecutive hours of Derek Jeter programming? On purpose?
Me: Didn't watch the 10-hour documentary about arguably the best basketball player in history.— Jeff J. Snider (@snidog) May 28, 2020
MLB Network: "Can I interest you in 64 hours of the 9th-best shortstop?"
Derek Jeter is the 60th-best position player in the history of baseball according to bWAR. He’s the 13th-best shortstop of all time according to JAWS (maybe that’s why they picked 13 signature games?). That “13th-best” label really needs an asterisk since 1) he wasn’t the best shortstop on his own team for most of that time and 2) he’s the only shortstop in the top 37 all time with a negative defensive WAR. I can think of a lot of baseball topics I’d rather watch 64 hours of consecutive games/coverage of, and Derek Jeter isn’t on the list. Here are 10, just off the top of my head:
- Perfect games — There have been 23 perfect games in MLB history, let’s watch 13 of those back-to-back with additional documentary commentary instead.
- No-Hitters — There have been 302 no-hitters in MLB history, let’s put those in groups of 13 and do a few weeks of no hitters back-to-back.
- Nolan Ryan — Seven of those no-hitters were thrown by one man, let’s watch all of Nolan Ryan’s no-hitters back-to-back and fill the remaining hours with cool documentary information about one of the greatest pitchers who ever lived.
- Speaking of pitchers, there are 80 pitchers in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Let’s just give each of them an hour and you have well more than 64 hours of programming. Alternatively, pick 10 from the TV era and show a two hour documentary of each and one of their best pitching performances. I’d sign up for three days of Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Pedro Martinez at their best in a heartbeat.
- Shockingly, Ken Burns’ Baseball is only 18½ hours long from start to finish, but I would definitely rather watch that three or four times in a row.
- The Negro Leagues - Every time I jump into research on the history and players in the Negro Leagues I read incredible stories that have been forgotten or rarely are told. Let’s devote 64 hours to the stories, experiences and players we all should know better.
- The history of literally any team, including teams that don’t exist anymore. Yes, even the Cardinals. You put together two hours on the history of each franchise, that’s well more than 64 hours when you add in the teams we lost along the way.
- Barry Bonds — If any player from the modern era actually demands 64 hours of coverage, it’s Bonds. Whether you agree with how he got to the top of the bWAR leaderboard or not, he’s there. Let’s talk about him. In fact, while we’re at it, here are the 10 other players with more bWAR than Jeter who are more worthy of 64 hours of consecutive coverage: Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Alex Rodriguez, Rickey Henderson, Roberto Clemente, Pete Rose, and Joe DiMaggio.
- The Steroid Era — While we’re on the topic of Bonds, 64 hours on the steroid era seems doable to me. A few documentaries, the HR race, and some epic games.
- Labor relations — I don’t know if you could get 64 total hours on this since it’s hard to just plug and play complete games in the middle here, but I imagine you could get close just with stories about the early leagues, the reserve clause, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the antitrust exemption, the history of the union, free agency, the different work stoppages and the current negotiations to get baseball back on track. Jeter can even have a cameo appearance here for his role with the Marlins.
Look, I am sympathetic to MLB Network here, they should have had 77 days of baseball and they are running low on ideas. It’s not easy, and I don’t blame them trying new angles. I can even imagine how this came about right as ESPN wrapped up huge ratings numbers with The Last Dance. But Derek Jeter is not Michael Jordan, and let’s not insult baseball fans by pretending he demands 64 hours of consecutive coverage.