Jeter received the hype, but not the award

The AL Most Valuable Player vote is in and it’s Joe Mauer. No surprise there, but the frequent mutterings down the stretch that Derek Jeter would receive a kind of John Wayne-“True Grit” career achievement MVP award proved to be pure fantasy. Mauer received 27 of 28 first-place votes, the remaining first-place ballot going, somewhat inexplicably, to Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers. Jeter did not receive a single first-place vote, and his own teammate, Mark Teixeira, out-polled him in second-place votes, 15-9, third-place votes, 6-5, and fourth-place votes, 4-3. Total points for the top three finishers: Mauer, 387; Teixeira, 225; Jeter 193.

mauer215_112309.jpgMauer had a historic year at catcher, even having missed the first month, and there should be nothing remotely controversial in his winning the award. What is more interesting is the way the rest of the votes fell, and the apparent perception that Teixeira, a first baseman having a very good but by no means great season. Jeter had a season that ranks among the top 25 by a shortstop in the past 60 years. Both were integral to the success the Yankees experienced this season, but there’s a huge difference between a shortstop contributing at the level that Jeter did and a first baseman doing what Teixeira did.

In the end, I suppose it doesn’t matter — Jeter has been robbed in previous awards voting. He wasn’t robbed this time. This is more a cri de coeur against misapprehensions about the replacement value of a great shortstop season versus a good season by a first baseman. Before anyone jumps on me for saying Teixeira’s season was “good,” not “great,” it’s not meant as an insult. It’s just that the hitting standards at first base are so ridiculously high that to call Teixeira’s season great would be ludicrous given the existence of Albert Pujols.

In the end, we should probably be thankful that Jeter did not get a career-achievement MVP award. That John Wayne got an award for “True Grit” doesn’t change the fact that he didn’t even get nominated for “The Searchers” (indeed, “The Searchers” was not nominated for a darned thing), “Red River,” or even his gritty sergeant with a heart of gold in “The Sands of Iwo Jima” (he was nominated but lost to Broderick Crawford chewing up the drapes in “All the King’s Men”). Henry Fonda getting a deathbed for “On Golden Pond” doesn’t forgive the lack of notice for “Young Mr. Lincoln,” “The Grapes of Wrath” (nominated but lost to Jimmy Stewart for “The Philadelphia Story”), or “Fort Apache,” among others. Cary Grant’s honorary award doesn’t make up for the lack of recognition for “His Girl Friday” or “Only Angels Have Wings,” to name just two. These are apologies, not awards that carry the power of in-the-moment recognition.

As I said, Mauer deserved the award, but there is a certain sadness that Jeter, one of the most-celebrated players of his day, will never get an MVP award despite playing excellently on five World Series winners. It’s a strange discordance that he was both the best and someone else was always perceived to be better — apparently including Miguel flippin’ Cabrera, who went out on a drinking binge and brawled with his wife during the Tigers’ last series against the Twins. Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski had to go pick him up at the police station. That vote is not only an insult to Jeter, it’s an insult to Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Ben Zobrist, and every other candidate for the award — not to mention that everything I said about the replacement value of a first baseman versus more demanding positions goes double for Cabrera, a mediocre fielder. Cabrera is a heck of a hitter and carried the weak Tigers offense, but yipes, if you truly thought he was a better or more important player than Mauer, Jeter, Teixeira, Zobrist, Youkilis… You either weren’t paying attention and you don’t understand the game… And don’t even get me started on fifth-place finisher Kendry Morales, who wasn’t one of the 20-most valuable players in the league. It’s pretty hard to be most valuable when you have a .355 OBP, but home runs and RBIs still forgive so much. How can Morales have been more valuable than Evan Longoria, or Alex Rodriguez, who propelled the Yankees out of a terrible rut when he came off of the disabled list?

Ah, forget it. I’m going off to watch “The Ox-Bow Incident.” Do not disturb.


  1. paulo720

    I haven’t seen THE OXBOW INCIDENT, but I saw HIS GIRL FRIDAY based on the recommendation of this column from some time ago and I have to say, I don’t get the appeal.—
    And, yes, rico is just being a troll now. Either that or he’s more obsessed with Nick Swisher than anyone.



    If we ever run into each other, we will, I hope, talk movies. I’m a little more than merely familiar with these films, and your comments are on the money, and so’s the metaphor.



  3. jeterbats2

    Cannot forget My Darling Clementine…

    Oddly enough, as a kid I was introduced to that film on an episode of MASH.

    Perhaps next year? Schmidt won at age 36 in ’86.

    And don’t forget “Pops” back in ’79 at age ’39

    Of course, a slab of granite forever in monument park isn’t a bad way to solidify greatness over a career.

    I’m comfortable with tipping my cap already to Mr. Mauer as a hall of famer. Shortstop is a demanding position, but behind the plate, with those consistant numbers? Even more worthy.

  4. letsgoyankees

    Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like everybody is getting worked up ths year not over who won, which were the correct choices basically, but over who was voted second third, and so on.

    That is a HUGE improvement.

  5. ayankeesyankee

    First I must say that there is no bigger Yankees fan then I am. Hence the name “aYankeesYankee”. But here you go again with Jeter. Always disrespecting his contributions to the Yankees and baseball. Yes I’m a Yankees fan and I also love the game of baseball very much so I have a pretty good knowledge of the game itself. I certainly agree that big Joe Mauer is all that and more and he absolutely deserves the MVP award more then anyone in the game. I think he was better then Albert Pujols this year. But comparing baseball to some actors is taking it to some kind of level I don’t think even you can explain. DON’T compare the two. Just because other people want to see “DEREK JETER!” maybe win the MVP award after getting robbed a couple of times especially in 1999 does not mean that you have to call him “overhyped” who in the #@!! do YOU think you are. I’m sure when people were saying that he’s finished and can’t play shortstop anymore you were probably the first in line agreeing or you started that crap of a rumor. “He showed you all” the jerks, the wanted to be’s but could never. Freaken writers like you get on my nerves sometimes. Your perception of “DEREK JETER!” is always overhyped. : ). I love it. I’m sure it’s ok with Jeter because when his career is all but done he will be a first ballot Hall of Famer with an avg. over 300, hits over 4000 and Gods knows how many more of those hard to get rings. His post season hits will NEVER be broken. NEVER! At least not in the next two lifetimes. I’m sure you have something disrespectful to say about that but who in the world really cares what you have to say about Jeters career. Is your writing overhyped? You blogger. Ha! Ha! LOL! Yes once in awhile I have to comment on crap like this.

  6. ayankeesyankee

    Oh! by the way I’ve seen every one of those movies that you’ve mentioned and more and they were very good movies. I’m a bit of a buff on that subject as well. “Ox Bow” was a great movie and it reminds me of the modern day idiots like yourself who are always ready to hang a man for something they have no real knowledge about. People who are so quick to put someone out because they want to see a man hang for something or any reason will do. “Just hang him” why wait?
    “DEREK JETER!” still may win the so called coveted MVP award. Truth is he really doesn’t need it. But if he does win one day he certainly will have deserved it even if you may call it a “lifetime achievement award”.
    “DEREK JETER!” has “True Grit”

  7. fl_yankfan

    Get the chips off your shoulders and read the article. Steve’s defending Jeter not criticizing him. Did you people actually read the article????
    Steve is saying that Jeter deserves more than a “tribute” lifetime acheivement award, similar to what some big actors have received in the past. What he is saying is that he probably won’t ever win the MVP award because a shortstop’s numbers, despite how great they are for the position, won’t be able to compete with someone hitting 30 hrs or more and driving in 100 runs. Shortstops generally don’t do that, especially shortstops hitting int he leadoff or #2 spot. ARod excepted of course.
    What he is saying is that sportswriters, the voters, tend to be enamored with big numbers, homeruns, rbi’s, etc. 200+ hits and 100 runs scored, a 300 plus average and 30 sb don’t amount for much with a .365 ba and 28 hr.
    Jeter, unfortunately, is playing at a time where the competition is very stiff. Looking back over his career, how many of those times he lost out on the MVP or batting title might we attribute to the steroid era, which, as of now we assume hopefully that he didn’t participate in? There’s no saying.
    But in 1999, 3 of the players that beat him out have been linked to or confessed to having used PEDs.. Ivan Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Rafael Palmeiro. I know Pudge hasn’t been outed by anyone other than Canseco, but I’ll take his word on this since he hasn’t been wrong yet. And Robbie Alomar had a lower batting average and OBP. The only one left is Pedro Martinez..who had an exceptional year..but did his 23 wins get Boston to the World Series?
    Unfortunately, Jeter, who is a shoe-in for the HOF has always been a bridesmaid when it comes to the big awards, MVP, batting title..always coming up just a little short. Had he played 10 years before he did, he probably would have won a couple of MVP’s by now. Who knows?
    But we do know that he is a Hall of Fame shortstop, one of the best ever, overall, and is the heart and soul of the Yankees and in an era when ballplayers will do literally anything to get the “numbers,” he consistently plays the game to win for the team. He will never show disappointment at not getting the awards, although I’m sure he’d like them. To him, if the team succeeds he succeeds, if it fails, he fails. That’s a leader..That’s Jeter.

  8. ayankeesyankee

    Don’t get your panties in a bunch yankfan. Yes I did read the article and all of the other articles stating that DEREK JETER! is overated and can’t field his shortstop position any more. Don’t even think about telling me about Jeter and what type of leader he is because I know. He still doesn’t have to say all that about how every other pundit was stating that he deserves some life time achievement award because I never heard that from anyone but him. He’s insulted Jeter in the past a few times.
    And if you really understand what the MVP really means is that it’s an award for the players that take their teams to the next level and Jeter has certainly done that a few times. If you take Mauer out of the twins line-up for one season they would still make the play-offs but still will not get past the first round. When Mauers is in the line-up they will still make the play-offs again but guess what? with or without Mauers they’re not getting past the first round again. Take Jeter out of the Yankees for a season and see how they would do. And as far as Teixeira so called good season for a first baseman was a great season but Pujols is in the national league and Teixeira’s season was great. People hate to admit the fact that playing in New York for the Yankees is waaaay different and much more tougher then any where else on EARTH!!! So try to see through the bull that you are trying to shovel my way. Maybe Teixeira did deserve the MVP award. Saying that Jeter will never win the MVP is bull cocky because all the people that said Jeter may win it was not saying it for a life time award.
    That’s what you get when you allow a bunch of writers who don’t know how to even play the game vote on who’s the MVP. What! You think Joe Mauers never taking any performance drugs? And you are not sure about Jeter?
    Shovel it some where else.

  9. ayankeesyankee

    One more thing. Dustin Pedroia winning the MVP was an absolute joke. OOh my God! Talk about insults so don’t you guys give me no bull about the MVP awards.

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