Tonight’s MLB All-Star game has been dubbed “Derek Jeter night” or “The Captain’s Classic.” However, the 85th annual MLB All-Star Game is a lot more than just that. In fact, “Derek Jeter night” actually comes second to what tonight’s game actually represents.
November 6, 2001 will be a day that lives in infamy for the Twin Cities as Minnesota Judge Harry Crump saved the Twins from extinction. Talks of contraction came around in 2001 as baseball’s economy hit hard times. Baseball’s owners were trying to talk Commissioner Bud Selig into contracting two teams and the Minnesota Twins were at the top of the list (the other was Montreal).
Crump ordered the Twins to play in the Metrodome, leading to their underdog 2002 playoff run (and also giving introducing the world to the home-run robbing skills of Torii Hunter in that year’s All-Star Game).
“The welfare, recreation, prestige, prosperity, trade and commerce of the people of the community are at stake,” Crump detailed in his order.
“Baseball is as American as turkey and apple pie,” he added. “Baseball is a tradition that passes from generation to generation. Baseball crosses social barriers, creates community spirit and is much more than a private enterprise. Baseball is a national pastime.”
Crump’s saving baseball continues that national pastime and Minnesota’s tradition that gave fans the likes of Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven, Jim Perry and Eddie Guardado, not to mention three World Series titles in franchise history, two of which in Minnesota (1987, 91).
However, Minnesota’s night marking its rise from near extinction will still be overshadowed by “Derek Jeter night.”
Although we don’t necessarily know how grand this stop on the Jeter Farewell tour will be, we can be sure of two things: he will hit leadoff for the American League, and he will receive something huge from Major League Baseball.
However, it will not be the last All-Star game for just Derek Jeter. The end of his path actually intersects with a familiar, somewhat unpopular face.
Selig is retiring after this season and Tuesday night in Minnesota will be his last All-Star game as well.
While everyone at Target Field will give Jeter somewhere around a possible two-to-three minute ovation, Selig will be the black sheep in the stands, possibly receiving some applause for a 22-year stint as commissioner. However he may receive more jeers than cheers which ironic considering the fact that Jeter was a part of four Yankee teams that eliminated Minnesota in the postseason, all of which in the ALDS. Those four Yankee teams lost a combined two games to Minnesota in those playoff series.
Selig, along with the other baseball owners had the Twins at the bottom of the baseball barrel as Jeter was in Arizona in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series two nights before, trying to lead the Yankees to their fourth-straight championship.
While Jeter’s career highlights are astounding — five World Series rings, a Rookie of the Year award, a World Series MVP award, the infamous flip-play against the Oakland A’s in the 2001 postseason, a game-winning home run that gave him the role of Mr. November in the ’01 Series, 3,000-plus hits, the chilling Jordan brand tribute video and possibly the hottest girlfriends for any athlete – Selig’s looks to be the complete opposite.
Selig is known for (according to rumors and stories) allowing the PED rampage that swept baseball since the late 90’s through the first decade in the 2000’s, leading to the toughest drug enforcement in American professional sports, a tie in the 2002 All-Star game that led home-field advantage in the World Series being on the line in every All-Star game since 2003, and (as mentioned before) contraction.
While Selig’s career has been linked to more negative events than positive, he should be recognized for several things he’s done for baseball. He’s made the All-Star game worth watching (let alone playing), he’s led baseball to become a $9 billion business, and since talks of contraction, the Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants and even the Boston Red Sox have ended their seemingly life-long championship droughts (and for the record we STILL await for the Cubs to end theirs). Meanwhile the Yankees have only won once in the last decade.
The only connection Jeter has to baseball’s steroid era is having had to share a clubhouse for over a decade with Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. Even through Selig’s PED witch-hunt, Jeter’s Hall of Fame bound career stands intact as he is the only player throughout his 20-year career to have never given a hint of PED use (leading to the almost hilarious response to Skip Bayless’ accusation two years ago.)
Most people will watch tonight’s All-Star game to see Derek Jeter and their favorite players and to see who will have home-field advantage in the World Series.
But also consider this when watching tonight: Jeter is the last remnant of the championship Yankees as we knew them and without Selig, despite all of the mistakes he’s made, baseball’s landscape would’ve always catered to the high-paying, big market teams (i.e. the Yankees).
Ironic that the end of both of their polar opposite careers will take the spotlight in a baseball city that nearly ceased to exist.