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Derek Jeter Is Here to Save Us

Who's the guy who voted against The Captain?
January 22, 2020
Derek Jeter Is Here to Save Us
This guy . . . (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

1. Jeter

For at least the next couple days I’m going to work on the assumption that you’re getting all the impeachment talk you can handle well before noon.

So let’s talk about some different things. Like Derek Jeter.

My official stance, of course, is that I hate Jeter. Why?

  • Yankee
  • 5 World Series Rings
  • Insanely good-looking
  • The most charmed life of any MLB player in the last 50 years
  • The epitome of human perfection
  • Yankee

Unofficially, Jeter is amazing and I’m slightly aggravated because yesterday he was elected to the Hall of Fame just one vote shy of a unanimous caucus.

I assume this means that there’s a sportswriter in Boston who left Jeter off out of pure spite. And I respect that. But spite is about the only reason not to have voted for Jeter:

  • 3,465 hits
  • .310 lifetime
  • 260 home runs and 1,311 RBIs
  • An OPS of .817 and a WAR of 72.4
  • Not to mention Rookie of the Year, World Series MVP, 14-time All-Star, 5 Gold Gloves, 5 Silver Sluggers, etc.

And then there’s the eyeball stuff. I mean, look at how Jeter played, with both his bat and his glove, in the big spots.

But the other two things about him are:

(1) He did all of this during the steroid era, in which he clearly declined to take part, and . . .

(2) He was the premier ambassador of baseball in a period where just about every other star of his magnitude wound up betraying the game.

I cannot emphasize how important Jeter’s career, coming when it did, doing it how he did it, was to baseball.

Which brings us to the other results.

Over at the Athletic—which is an insane value, the best sports writing in America for $36 a year!—Jayson Stark has a deep dive into what the movement in vote totals for other players on the ballot suggests about the future.

Here are some of his takeaways:

  • The steroid stars are in trouble: Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Pettitte now look extremely unlikely to get in.
  • There’s a beautiful symmetry in that A-Rod’s first year on the ballot will be Bonds’ and Clemens’ last years. lol
  • Curt Schilling almost certainly gets in next year, and may be the only inductee.
  • There’s one more potential for a unanimous first-ballot selection on the horizon: Ichiro in 2025. If he’s not selected unanimously, the Rivera will remain the only unanimous selection until Mike Trout finally makes his way onto the ballot some time around 2035.

Pitchers and catchers can’t report soon enough.

2. Radicals

John Judis is one of the OG neoliberals, a guy I started reading when I was a kid and he was at the New Republic. Guys like Judis (and Bill Galston) have always been the most effective critics of conservatism precisely because they don’t reject it root and branch. If you were a young conservative feeling your way through intellectual life, you wanted to read as much Judis a possible, because he was able to make counter-arguments to conservative thought on conservatives’ own terms.

Anyway, here we are in a brave new world and Judis has a giant piece in the Washington Post about how today’s progressives are on the cusp of making the same mistakes that his generation did in the late 1960s:

In January 1969, Tom Hayden, a founder of the radical Students for a Democratic Society and a leader of the antiwar movement, came to speak at the University of California at Santa Cruz, on behalf of the SDS chapter where I was a member. At the time, many on the new left thought a revolution was imminent. Major cities had been set ablaze by rioters; gun-toting members of the Black Panther Party had confronted legislators in Sacramento; hundreds of thousands were marching against the Vietnam War; and with Richard Nixon in office — and the war showing no signs of abating — the protests were turning violent.Hayden, too, was confident about what lay ahead. . . .

But at this moment of left-wing optimism, it bears remembering that the ’60s left never fulfilled the vision of Hayden and others. Indeed, even as our cause appeared ascendant, a powerful right-wing movement was also percolating: Young Americans for Freedom, presidential candidates George Wallace and Barry Goldwater, California Gov. Ronald Reagan. By the time I saw Hayden speak in 1969, Nixon had been elected, in part because of a backlash to the new left. In 1972, he would rout McGovern at the polls. Less than a decade later, Reagan was in the White House. If revolutionary change was on the agenda, it was of an entirely different nature from what we had envisaged in 1969.

Will today’s new left stumble down the path of my generation’s left, growing largely irrelevant and then, eventually, disappearing from sight? Or could it come to dominate American politics over the next few decades? Because of key structural differences between then and now, I actually think their odds of success are better than ours were. But to capitalize on those odds, they will have to learn from the failures of my generation — we activists who succeeded in captivating a noisy subgroup of Americans but never came close to commanding a political majority. And there are already, in my view, worrisome signals that they are repeating some of our biggest mistakes.

Sometimes I wish my progressive friends would read John Judis as closely as I do.

Final note: The art on this piece is bonkers amazing. Kudos to whoever did it.

3. The Internet of Beefs (cont.)

I was so taken with yesterday’s essay from Ribbonfarm that I kept drilling down on the idea of the Internet of Beefs, and found another essay that is very much worth your time, by Renee DiResta:

Two closely related themes have proved very newsworthy over the past several months: the candidacy of Donald Trump, and harassment mobs on the Internet. The overlap between them is interesting because in the past we haven’t typically associated American Presidential campaigns, no matter how close or contentious, with online mobs. This time, however, we have stories about the election intersecting with the rise of online harassment mobs, anti-Semitic Twitter trolls, and even Kremlin influence bots.

Although this weird election cycle has made them more newsworthy, mobs, demagogues, and populist movements are obviously not new. What is new and interesting is how social media has transformed age-old crowd behaviors. In the past decade, we’ve built tools that have reconfigured the traditional, centuries-old relationship between crowds and power, transforming what used to be sporadic, spontaneous, and transient phenomena into permanent features of the social landscape. The most important thing about digitally transformed crowds is this: unlike IRL crowds, they can persist indefinitely. And this changes everything.

Read the whole thing.

Jonathan V. Last

Jonathan V. Last is editor of The Bulwark.