Even When He Doesn't Want to Be, Derek Jeter's the Story

Is quest for Gehrig grating on him?

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Sep 9, 2009  |  Updated 1:45 PM EDT
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Even When He Doesn't Want to Be, Derek Jeter's the Story

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Derek Jeter has never been one to duck away from the cameras and tape recorders of New York's media masses. Moments of triumph and defeat have always been followed by Jeter standing in front of his locker and facing the horde like it was as important a part of his job as driving in runs and getting to balls in the hole. He's rarely said anything particularly interesting or insightful, but he's always said something.

Except for last night, something that was dutifully noted by all of the scribes covering the Yankees even though Jeter had nothing to do with the outcome of the game. Nick Swisher blasted two homers, including the game-winner in the bottom of the ninth, and you'd think that writers would be more than happy to spend some time with the gregarious Swish on such a big night.

Nope, they want them some Jeter and they want him bad. That's understandable in light of Jeter's imminent passing of Lou Gehrig and his 0-for-12 streak, but after thousands of nights giving empty soundbites you'd think that everyone could fill their column inches with other stories.  

Both Mike Vaccaro of the Post and John Harper of the Daily News opined that Jeter didn't want to trample on Swisher's spotlight. That makes sense, even if it is an odd inclusion to make in a story solely about Jeter. The irony inherent in completely hijacking the attention by trying not to hijack the attention goes unmentioned by both writers, as they instead try to peck around at the Gehrig record and suggest that Jeter may be feeling the pressure of setting the hit mark without outright accusing Jeter of struggling with the weight.

Hopefully that's because they know how silly that assertion would be after 12 hitless at-bats. Jeter's had such strings before, even when there's been nothing looming over his head. He's also had far too many moments of brilliance with the weight of the season on his shoulders to assume that this one is causing him an outsized amount of agita. 

That leads us to the reason for a quick Jeter departure that makes the most sense. He knew the story that everyone wanted to write was how he's crumbling with a legend in his crosshairs and wasn't going to give in and play the game. Sometimes a slump is just a slump, and we don't need Jeter to tell us that.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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