Derek Jeter has always annoyed me, though we've never met.
As a Mets fan, I grew tired of hearing from Yankee fans how "classy" he was, how there was no hint of off-the-field troubles. As a journalist, I felt empathy for the poor sports reporters who tried valiantly but unsuccessfully for many years to coax even a single interesting quote out of him. Instead, they had to settle for classic baseball boilerplate.
So, for years, I have referred to him as Derek F. Jeter—like Mets killers such as Chipper F. Jones, Freddie F. Freeman, and Chase F. Utley. And I even derived an ungenerous bit of baseball schadenfreude from the pandemic postponement of his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Now, as protests continue over the excruciating slow-motion murder of George Floyd and the many other police killings of unarmed black men, Jeter has spoken out—this time, not in boilerplate.
"Something needs to change. It gets to a point where you say enough is enough," Jeter said during a Juneteenth special on the MLB Network, in conversation with Harold Reynolds. "The one thing that I was optimistic about is, for the first time, you're seeing people across all 50 states and roughly 20 other countries—people of all different races and different nationalities—out there in agreement that now is the time and things do need to change, because it's been going on for too long."
Jeter spoke not just for himself but for the Miami Marlins team that he runs. "I wanted people to hear it directly from me, that's the bottom line—I want to be very clear on where I stand, and I want to be very clear on where the organization stands. We're not going to sit idly by and allow racism to persist, that's the bottom line."
So, Derek, despite all the years of Yankee-fan blather about your immortality and all those boring post-game quotes, you have said exactly the right thing, at the right time. No more F for you.
First in my class in Officer Candidate School. Late to the conclusion that our attitude toward the military is idolatrous.