Dear Mr. Jeter,
I hope you are well. I have to say this because recently when I see you play you seem to be wearing more support strapping with every at bat and I worry one day you are going to appear in an all over body support that will leave you looking like an Olympic swimmer under those pinstripes. It’s concerning for a Yankee fan, who became so partly due to the intoxicating atmosphere at the old Yankee Stadium, but in no small part due to the fact that she was taken to a game by her sports fan father and brother and this very impressionable British girl took a shine to one of the many men trying to hit that ridiculously fast moving ball a redonkulously long way with what looked like a very small piece of wood. You were in your first couple of seasons then, and while your career has progressed from strength to strength, you’ll be relieved to know that my knowledge and love of America’s Game has increased beyond measure. I actually have a clue what’s going on now. I know that while pitches always look fast they are actually traveling in several different ways. I know that you’re NOT trying to hit the ball out of the park every single time because, well, there’s all this strategy. I know that this game is an awful lot more complicated than it first appears, despite the assertion that its a simple game: you throw the ball, you hit the ball you catch the ball. I know that win or lose you roll with the punches, always play hard and NEVER cry. And I finally discovered what these Cracker Jack things someone is supposed to buy me are almost 10 years after I first heard that famous song.
I also know that there is no place I’d rather be than at a ball park, watching a game even though this is only a very rare pleasure for me given the whole “Atlantic Ocean gets in the way” problem. Because of this, I don’t call myself a true fan. I am simply unable to follow the team or the game in the way that I would like because of time zones, distances, etc. I can’t see every game. I guess I don’t have die hard loyalties to one team or the understanding of the game that comes with growing up at the ball park, but I’m trying.
I’m left with these questions and I figure you’re rocking the world of baseball as Yankee captain, so when it comes to the game if you don’t know the answers, well, there must just not be an answer. That, and you seem like an all-round approachable chap (that’s British for nice guy), so I’m hoping you could take a few minutes of your time to read the musings of a confused Brit who just wants to understand the game you love and maybe clear a few things up.
Like, for example, why do some batters tap the plate with the tip of the bat before lifting it above there head? Is it a good luck thing? Is it some tradition I don’t know about? Is it to remind you just how small the pitchers strike zone actually is, so you don’t freak out at the fact that a hard ball is about to come hurling at you over 80 miles an hour? Does it help? Why do some players tap once… some twice, some not at all. It’s very strange.
Added to this the whole circling the bat above your head thing. Again, some do, some don’t. Does that help with momentum? Is it some odd attempt to distract the pitcher? Why, Derek, Why ?
Moving on.. some other things I don’t understand: why all the spitting / chewing gum with your mouth open / scratching… I know, I know… you are guys and its a guys game and well its just how ball players are, but really they are fowl habits and some traditions should be ended even in baseball. I’m telling you, Yankee captain or not, if you spit on the floor in my house I will show you the door and that’s a promise, so why spit all over the park? Eww… the gum chewing thing has me even more puzzled when you’re in the batter’s box, getting ready for your swing. Does the rhythmic chewing help you there too, because I have to tell you with all that exertion I freak out that one of you is going to breathe in at the wrong moment sending the gum to the back of your throat and causing you to choke to death. Yeah, maybe I’m neurotic but you know it could happen!? OK… scratching the groin: I will never understand the need but also being a woman and therefore not encumbered with those… umm… additions to my body, I guess I can’t judge you. It may be much more of a hindrance than I realize. I don’t know. So if you can’t avoid the need to rearrange in public, do you think we could at least have some type of camera man education program because, let’s be honest, the close up shots of an at the time faceless ball player rearranging the furniture are kind of distracting and NOT in a good way. I’m sure you’re not too fond of the world and his wife getting an eye full either?
I’m convinced that you guys are just so focused on what you need to do in the game in front of you, your next at bat, the next play, etc. that sometimes you forget where you are and just how many people are watching. I have to confess to being appalled lately when, during your recent encounters with the Braves, I caught some shots of the dugout littered with cups and all kinds of crap. How hard is it to find a trash can? Seriously? I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that while watching a game I can drop my peanut shells allover the floor without a barrage of disapproving looks that shames me into picking them up… but my few shells are nothing compared to the mess in there. I pity the poor person that has to clear up after you guys. Do you have a trash can in there?
I could go on and on but you’re a busy man so I will leave it at that. Thanks for listening to a confused fan looking at your world through foreign eyes. Now get back to work because the Yankees are the best team in baseball and, at the time of this writing, we have at least 4 games to make up, if we want to prove it. I’ll be rooting for you and the boys. LET’S GO YANKEES!!!
All the best from a worshiper of the church of baseball