Karpin: Jeter Unanimous, Maybe Not?

Derek Jeter will be elected to the Hall of Fame today. There is no doubt about that. The only question that remains is will he be the second unanimous player to be elected?

Last year, Mariano Rivera became the first unanimous selection and many expect Jeter to be the second, but will he?

Thanks to the work of Ryan Thibodaux, (twitter handle: @NotMrTibbs) who compiles ballots and gives us a sneak preview of the results of the election. He has Jeter at 100% from the ballots he’s collected so far.

During Jeter’s career, there was a narrative about him being “overrated” or a product of “New York hype.” In his latter years, his skills had declined, particularly in the field, which gave the cynics fodder for their argument that Jeter was not a good defensive player, and not just towards the end of his career. Remember this, no one was better on pop ups, that’s also a part of a shortstop’s responsibility on defense. It’s true that he was stubborn towards the end, but that doesn’t mean you apply that negativity for his entire 20-year career.

Newsday Yankee beat reporter Erik Boland made a great point about how social media has put pressure on the voters last year when Mariano Rivera became the first unanimous selection. Boland wrote, “With most ballots made public now, (it’s not compulsory for voters to publicize them but pretty much all do) the possibility of a social media beating for leaving Rivera off played a role in his being named on every ballot.”

As an official scorer who works the games in New York, myself and my colleagues heard and felt the narratives that were attached to Jeter’s career.

When he was in pursuit of his 3000th hit in 2011, we were being criticized for calling a hit when some of the “experts” in the press box (National media in particular) and the public felt an error should’ve been called instead.

Some of the National media were pushing the notion that the scorers favored Jeter by ruling a hit on close scoring calls at home, so as to make sure he would get the 3000th hit at home. One of those so called “hometown calls” came about a month before Jeter got #3000.

I didn’t score the game when Jeter got his 3000th hit but I did score hit #2987. It was about a month before the milestone game. (Remember, Jeter got hurt a bit after that and missed some time)

Jeter was famous for putting an inordinate amount of slow hit balls in play and busting it down the line, which puts pressure on the scorers to make a decision as to whether it was a hit or an error. On this particular one, I ruled a hit, but, of course, but many of the “scorers” that we have every night in the press box were not in agreement.

The next day, I got a call from NY Daily News media columnist Bob Raissman, who was writing a story on how the scorers in New York were handling Jeter’s run for 3000 hits. In the column, Raissman quoted an anonymous member of the press, who, after that call said, “If this is the kind of scoring we can expect, Jeter might get his 4000th hit on this home stand.” Of course, that person would not put his or her name to the quote and would not have the guts to say that to someone’s face, but that’s another story.

As you can surmise, Jeter invoked a lot of mixed opinions throughout his career, which makes it intriguing to see what the result of the vote will be.

Will he be a unanimous selection? I’ll leave you with this.

On last Friday’s “High Heat” show with Chris Russo on MLB Network, long time and well respected Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan, who is a Hall of Fame voter, was the guest. When asked if Jeter would be a unanimous selection, Ryan offered a rather, cryptic remark when he said, (and I’m paraphrasing) “If he’s not a unanimous selection, don’t look at me.”

Does Ryan know someone who is not voting for Jeter? We will certainly find out later.

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