I heard somebody on the radio the other night suggest the Yankees drop Derek Jeter down in the lineup as they make a run at the post-season.
That would constitute not only bad baseball but bad karma.
Take it from an old Brooklyn Dodger fan who has never rooted for the Yankees in his long and tormented life, the Yankees need to finish the Jeter generation with him high in the lineup and playing shortstop most of the time.
He deserves it, and the Yankees need him, just the way he is.
You don’t monkey with the great ones. Casey Stengel put Joe DiMaggio on first base one day – DiMaggio sweated through his uniform, and went to ownership after the game – and Mickey Mantle had to hobble out to first base late in his career because it would have been inhumane to make him play the outfield anymore.
Jeter will go out with dignity and competence. He was batting .261 going into Friday, and his range has gone down, but he is not among the top 10 reasons the Yankees are outside the wild-card zone. Joe Girardi knows that.
If younger Yankees were playing better, Jeter would be seen as a stabilizing force, but he cannot carry this assortment of mostly strangers and failures. That’s not his game. He always made everybody better, but that was when they had Bernie and Posada and Mo and Andy and all the gamers they collected. That era is over. Just don’t take it out on an epic Yankee who is drawing deserved cheers as he goes around baseball one last time.
The only slip I detect in Jeter’s dignity is his huckstering of autographed balls and other so-called collectibles. He is making $12-million on his final one-year contract, and I am not sure he needs to hustle all kinds of junk to rich people just because they can afford to splurge. I don’t see any reference to his foundation or other charities.
Maybe Jeter is putting a new wing on his modest Tampa Bay bungalow which locals call St. Jetersburg. (I think it is the model for Putin’s dacha wherever Putin plans to go in exile.)
But Jeter’s choice of life style is not the issue here. He has been an epic Yankee, a great baseball player, and the club gains from treating him with respect, through his last game.
If the Yankees are out of contention, I think Jeter owes it to himself to show up in Boston for the final weekend, Sept. 26-27-28, rather than pull a Teddy Ballgame and skip the last road trip. He has always been a class act. Let him go to Boston, and let a great baseball town fuss over him. He deserves it. Boston fans know that. This old Brooklyn Dodger fan knows that. Presumably, so does Derek Jeter.
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This just in. I discovered today's terrific piece by Richard Sandomir, about the Yankees' collectibles deal with Brandon Steiner. I don't get this kind of collecting but am willing to compartmentalize my respect for Jeter the player. Still, when is enough enough?
Measuring Covid Deaths, by David Leonhardt. July 17, 2023. NYT online.
The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal….
After three horrific years, in which Covid has killed more than one million Americans and transformed parts of daily life, the virus has turned into an ordinary illness.
The progress stems mostly from three factors:
First, about three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
Second, more than three-quarters of Americans have been infected with Covid, providing natural immunity from future symptoms. (About 97 percent of adults fall into at least one of those first two categories.)
Third, post-infection treatments like Paxlovid, which can reduce the severity of symptoms, became widely available last year.
“Nearly every death is preventable,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who was until recently President Biden’s top Covid adviser, told me. “We are at a point where almost everybody who’s up to date on their vaccines and gets treated if they have Covid, they rarely end up in the hospital, they almost never die.”
That is also true for most high-risk people, Jha pointed out, including older adults — like his parents, who are in their 80s — and people whose immune systems are compromised. “Even for most — not all but most —immuno-compromised people, vaccines are actually still quite effective at preventing against serious illness,” he said. “There has been a lot of bad information out there that somehow if you’re immuno-compromised that vaccines don’t work.”
That excess deaths have fallen close to zero helps make this point: If Covid were still a dire threat to large numbers of people, that would show up in the data.
One point of confusion, I think, has been the way that many Americans — including we in the media — have talked about the immuno-compromised. They are a more diverse group than casual discussion often imagines.
Most immuno-compromised people are at little additional risk from Covid — even people with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or a history of many cancers. A much smaller group, such as people who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing active chemotherapy, face higher risks.
Covid’s toll, to be clear, has not fallen to zero. The C.D.C.’s main Covid webpage estimates that about 80 people per day have been dying from the virus in recent weeks, which is equal to about 1 percent of overall daily deaths.
The official number is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death. Other C.D.C. data suggests that almost one-third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases came to similar conclusions.
Dr. Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Massachusetts, told me that “age is clearly the most substantial risk factor.” Covid’s victims are both older and disproportionately unvaccinated. Given the politics of vaccination, the recent victims are also disproportionately
Republican and white.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy. The deaths that were preventable — because somebody had not received available vaccines and treatments — seem particularly tragic. (Here’s a Times guide to help you think about when to get your next booster shot.)
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.