Results tagged ‘ DerekJeter ’

Death of the Baseball Role Model?

Baseball has always been places where the youth can look to for influence, but is the baseball role model a non-existent one anymore?

One would think that with his boyish looks, his charming personality, and lack of criminal history that Angels slugger Mike Trout would be an influence to the youth, but many seem not to even know Trout (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Written by Jake Elman

It’s Tuesday night, and for the first time since May 2007, the city of Cleveland is celebrating a trip to the championship; that’s with all due respect to the reigning college football champion Ohio State Buckeyes, of course, but it’s been a long eight years in C-Town. We all know the stories — the Browns have stuck to mediocrity, the Indians have been inconsistent, LeBron James left…and even during the King’s first season back this year, things weren’t so hot in Cleveland.

But, what stood out most during the postgame celebration wasn’t J.R. Smith’s selfie at the podium, but it was instead the response that LeBron James earned not just from Cavalier fans, but fans all over the world. Gone was the heel LeBron James that so many of us rooted against for his four years in Miami, the player that had made the decision on national television to take his talents to South Beach; instead replacing him was The King, the player that our youth wanted to be like not even as a basketball player, but as a person.

The conversation of athletes being influences and role models to our youth has one we as a society have had for a long time, but it seems that this conversation seems to be dead in baseball. As a New Yorker, I can certainly say that the conversation has stopped here, and that’s not just a generational thing either: baseball, football, and basketball have always been places where the youth can look to for influence, but after the Selig Era, maybe that conversation might be a silent one in America’s Pastime.

Part of that might come from the general lack of mainstream popularity that the game’s stars have; a 2014 USA Today article said that the five most famous players in baseball, at the time, were Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper, Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, Red Sox first baseman/designated hitter David Ortiz, Yankees third baseman/designated hitter Alex Rodriguez, and former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Of those five, two (Oritz and Rodriguez) have been tied to steroids, a third (Pujols) hasn’t really ever had the popularity in America that he has in Latin America, one (Harper) is among the most ‘arrogant and cocky’ players in the game, so that meant that Jeter was the most ‘innocent’ and good for being a role model.

Now, that makes sense, because Jeter was the face of baseball for a long time and was never in the news for anything bad; you never heard about him getting into fights with his girlfriend or cheating the game, and Jeter was also one of the few players to be on the national stage, often appearing on talk shows and at red carpet events. But still, four of those five players over the age of 34 at the time (Pujols turned 35 in January 2015) and I don’t see many people saying that they look up to Bryce Harper.

As of right now, if you asked me point-blank which five players would be the biggest role models for the youth, I’d say Mets third baseman David Wright, Angels outfielder Mike Trout, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig (for Latin America and Cuba), Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, and Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Yet, the way my generation knew Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Pedro Martinez, and others when we were young, this generation might only know Trout, Puig, and Cabera, and that’s because the latter two were on the past two MLB: The Show games.

Right now, we’re in a time where the main sports of influence are football and basketball, even if it the former is plagued by criminals and awful human beings right now. If I’m a ten year old kid and I have the choice of looking up to LeBron James, this super-popular guy who dominates every time he goes out there, or Mike Trout, a star outfielder who might be content with a 1-4 game and a walk if his team wins, I’m probably going with LeBron.

Now, as you might expect, I’m sure the steroid age played a big role in kids not wanting to look up to baseball players as much. Why, if we use logic, would a youth look up to someone who has cheated the game and cheated themselves by using PEDs? What kind of standard does that set for the kid looking up to Alex Rodriguez or Ryan Braun?

But, maybe it’s just a generational shift, but even then I’m not sure if that’s the case.

But, maybe it’s just a generational shift, and even then I’m not sure if that’s the case. Maybe we as a society have reached a point where because of the steroid era and the shift in balance that baseball has taken over the past two decades that there’s really no mainstream player to truly look up to; I also think part of it may have to do with the fact that a lot of these players either were signed at a young age from Latin America or come from relatively wealthy backgrounds that enable them to play for the best travel teams, attend the best camps, etc. If you’re someone from a poor city like Detroit or southern Chicago, how would you be able to relate to someone that’s had all of these things given to them?

Though one could make the argument that someone like LeBron James played at an elite basketball academy, which is true, LeBron also came from a single parent household where his mother gave birth to him at sixteen, lived in the seedy parts of Akron, Ohio, and eventually moved in with his football coach. Oklahoma City star forward Kevin Durant, one of the most popular players in the NBA right now, also came from a home with no male role model, as his father deserted the family when the former MVP was just a year old.

That’s not to say that scenarios like that don’t happen in Major League Baseball, but for American kids, a lot of them want to relate to people that went through similar situations in America. Even if he was a playboy, people growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s respected Yankees slugger Mickey Mantle because he came from a poor Oklahoma background that involved a lot of lead and zinc mining; they could relate to the hard-working American, and it’s hard to relate to players that come from such extravagant lifestyles when you haven’t even come closing to have those luxuries.

Will this change? Well, I don’t necessarily think that’ll be the case anytime soon, and a lot of that goes back to what I said in a recent article about youth baseball. There’s a big, big differentiation between where the majority of baseball players and where, for example, the majority of basketball players come from, and it’s very hard to look up to someone when you can’t claim to have anything really in common. The sad thing is that arguably Major League Baseball’s biggest role model right now, as hard as this may be to believe, is Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez: he came from a single parent household and wasn’t wealthy, used his talent to get where he was, eventually made a mistake, and is now trying to redeem himself.

When Alex Rodriguez is arguably baseball’s biggest role model, then you know that there may be a bit of a problem.

Do you think that kids, and youth as a whole, will ever look up to baseball players the way we once did, or is that phase over with for good? Make sure to chime in on the conversation by tweeting me at @JakeElman

Top Ten Subway Series Moments

With the 18th edition of the Subway Series starting tonight, we look at the ten most memorable moments since 1997

Mariano Rivera, the last player to ever wear 42, recorded his 500th save against the New York Mets in 2009 (Getty Images)

Written by Jake Elman

April in New York means hockey playoffs, basketball playoffs, and preparation for which disappointing quarterback will be joining the New York Jets shortly…yet, no one really cares about any of that right now. It’s Subway Series time, and for the first time in a long time, this series actually means something; both teams are contenders out of the gate, and the title of New York is on the line again. This isn’t a series just for pride anymore, and after a silly attempt at putting the Subway Series all in one week over the past two years (it was not a good idea, despite what some fans will tell you), there’s legitimate excitement all around the Big Apple.

It’s hard to believe, but 2015 marks the 18th year of the regular season Subway Series; this matchup, in fact, kicked off ten days (June 16th, 1997) after I was born, and it started with the Yankees’ dominant offense being shutout. So, some things haven’t changed it seems. In the past 18 years, we’ve had some fantastic moments from the Subway Series, but which were the absolute best?

Well, that’s what we’re here to count down. Whether it be regular season or from the World Series, a game in the Bronx or a game in Flushing, anything from the past 18 years is eligible for this list. Without further waiting, let’s take a look at what I believe to be the top moments from the Subway Series in the past two decades.

10. Yankees mess with the Johan

Nine earned runs, three innings, and a 15-0 loss…no, that’s not the statline of your MLB 15: The Show created player. Rather, that was the statline of Mets ace Johan Santana on June 14, 2009, in a blowout loss to the New York Yankees. For fans on both sides, this was an extremely memorable series, as we’ll see below, but this was the finishing touch; Santana was lit up badly by the Yankees, including giving up a two-run home run to Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui, and his ERA went from 2.39 to 3.29 in the process. Not at all a good start from the two-time Cy Young winner, that’s for sure.

9. Koo bests Johnson

Do you remember Koo Dae-Sung? I didn’t really remember him, but all of the memories came back when I saw what he did in May 2005. Facing Yankees ‘ace’ (don’t let anyone fool you, Mike Mussina was the true ace of those teams) but still extremely intimidating Randy Johnson, the 35 year old Koo hit a double and then scored on a sacrifice bunt. The last time Koo had hit before facing Johnson, according to the left-hander, was in high school. What a legendary moment from a player that appeared in only 33 games during his illustrious MLB career.

8. Doc’s return to Shea

It’s not much of a memorable moment to some, but the five solid innings by Yankee starter Dwight ‘Doc’ Gooden in July 2000 make this list for one reason only: it was the first time Doc Gooden had pitched at Shea Stadium since he was with the Mets. Gooden, who had pitched for both Houston and Tampa before coming back to New York, went five innings while allowing two runs in a 4-2 Bombers win. It wasn’t a perfect start, but it was definitely an emotional one and Doc got his team the win.

7. Jeter leads off with a bang

Our only moment on this list solely from the 2000 World Series between these two teams, now-retired Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter led off the game with a home run to swing the momentum back in the direction of the Bronx Bombers. There’s a reason why the future Captain won the World Series MVP award for this Fall Classic…

6. David Wright’s closes the door on Sandman

Ah, it’s hard to forget this signature moment of the 2006 Miracle Mets season. In only his second year starting at third, Mets star David Wright hit a walk off single against Rivera to give his team a 7-6 victory. It wasn’t quite David versus Goliath, but it surely was a bright moment in the then-young career of Sir Wright.

Do you remember Dae-Sung Koo? It may be hard to recall the Korean import, but many Met fans will never forget his double and subsequent scoring on Yankees ace Randy Johnson (NY Daily News)

5. Piazza vs. Clemens

Ah, one of baseball’s premier rivalries that featured blood and guts galore…well, just blood, though I’m sure Mets catcher Mike Piazza would have loved to rip out Roger Clemens’ guts like a zombie from The Walking Dead (sorry, brother). Anyways, we should all know the story by now: Clemens domed Piazza in the summer of 2000, then there was the whole bat incident in the World Series, Piazza goes deep against Clemens in 2002, and then the beef kind of lost its relevancy. Seeing as some of you probably got very excited when you heard the word blood, here’s the aforementioned bat incident.

4. Dave Mlicki starts it off right

With all of the great names on the old Mets and Yankee teams — Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite, Al Leiter, David Wells, Rick Reed — you’d think that the first pitcher to throw a shutout in the Subway Series would be a premier name, right? Well, it was veteran Dave Mlicki who threw that first shutout, he of the 8-12, 4.00 ERA season in 1997. In fact, Mlicki did it in the Subway Series’ first ever game, shutting down the Yankees by a final score of 6-0.

3. Mo joins the 500 club

Thirteen years after his first save, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera joined the 500 save club with a four out closing of the New York Mets. Like most of Rivera’s other outings, the opposing hitters were fooled by the cutter, as Sandman struck out two and forced Alex Cora into a game-ending groundout. Not bad, old man.

2. Carlos Delgado breaks the Bombers

June 2008 is going to be remembered by every Met fan for what was, essentially, the beginning of the end. It’s a time where Mets manager and former New York Yankee Willie Randolph was fired and Jerry Manuel was named his replacement, a move that began a streak of mediocrity and inconsistency…but, June 2008 was also a time where Carlos Delgado, the oft-criticized Mets first baseman, finally began to show why the team had so much faith in him as their veteran leader. In the first game of a double header in the Bronx, Delgado recorded two home runs nine RBI in the Mets’ 15-6 rout of their crosstown rivals.

June of 2008

1. Luis Castillo drops the ball…literally

Michael Kay said it best…A-Rod becomes the hero with a pop up.

What are your favorite moments from the Subway Series? Make sure to chime in on the conversation by tweeting me at @JakeElman