City Rats and Sexism

There are rats in New York City.  That probably doesn’t surprise anyone.  In fact, there are lots and lots of rats.  Estimates range from 2-10 million rats.  Even on the low end, 2 million rats is a lot of rats.  There are also people in New York City.  This, again, probably doesn’t surprise anyone.  In fact, there are lots and lots of people.  The current estimate is about 8.5 million people living there and roughly 50 million annual visitors.  The truly surprising thing is the sheer number of those people, especially those visitors, who have never seen a rat in New York City.

New York City is roughly 470 square miles.  That means there are (again using the low end of the estimate) 4255 rats per square mile.  It seems like with that many rats running around, most people would just bump into one every once in a while.  I know that the rats aren’t evenly distributed, but they go where the food is and the food is around people.  I know that rats are mostly nocturnal, but New York is the “City That Never Sleeps”.  I also know that the rats don’t want to be seen, but they are quite brazen about taking any food they can find and everyone who has been to New York has seen litter in New York.

I think I was in college the first time I saw a rat in New York City.  I grew up in Connecticut, so I had been to New York a bunch of times before college, but I never saw a rat.  I’m pretty sure I had walked right past them without seeing them.  I think that’s common.  The first one I saw was at Grand Central Station.  I was early for my train, but broke, so I was just sitting there waiting for the train.  I saw something move on the tracks.  I couldn’t figure out what it was at first.  I thought it was someone’s small dog that had gotten loose.  It was when it squeezed through a hole that I couldn’t even see that it clicked, that was a rat.

Since seeing that first rat, I don’t think I’ve taken a trip to New York City without seeing at least one rat.  I’ve seen them on the street, in alleys, under food stands, in trash cans and in the parks.  They really are everywhere.  I find it hard to believe I went the first 20ish years of my life without seeing one.  But, from talking to others, it seems that my story is fairly common.

There is sexism in the world.  That probably doesn’t surprise anyone.  In fact, there is lots and lots of sexism.  The statistics are everywhere.  Women only earn 79% of what men earn Only 4.4% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women1 in 3 women are victims of domestic violence.  I could go on and on, but even if this were all the sexism, that’s a lot of sexism.  There are also people in the world.  This, again, probably doesn’t surprise anyone.  In fact, there are lots and lots of people.  According to the best estimates, there are more than 7.4 billion people.  The truly surprising thing is the sheer number of those people who have never noticed an incident of sexism.

There are roughly 3.7 billion women on the planet.  That means that about half of the people in the world are possible targets of sexism.  It seems like with so much sexism and so many possible targets, everyone would notice sexism more than every once in a while.  I know that much of the sexism takes the form of microaggressions, but much of it doesn’t.  I know that most people don’t think of themselves as sexist, but that won’t stop people from noticing sexism in others.  I also know that victims don’t always talk about their experiences, but that can’t be an excuse.  No one would say a murder isn’t real because the victim stays silent.

I was in high school, starting my first job, when I first saw and really noticed sexism.  I know I had seen sexism before that, I just hadn’t really paid attention to it.  I see now that there was sexism in things like gendered chores and the fact that girls played the flute while boys played the trumpet.  But, as a kid, I didn’t really notice these things.  My first job was in a restaurant, cooking and washing dishes, and the sexism was impossible to ignore. There was the common sexism, like waitresses making more money by wearing tighter clothes, but it got much worse. There were sexist jokes, like calling the seafood platter a “hooker”. There was the fact that men could hold any position, but the women were only hosts or wait staff. There were the near constant discussions among the cooks about the women’s looks, clothes and what they might be skilled at. And there were even scheduling decisions based on who was cute enough for the Saturday night shift.

Since noticing the sexism at my first real job, I see and notice sexism all the time.  It’s in almost every school, workplace, club, movie, TV show, album, website and commercial I see.  It is everywhere.  Now that I notice it, I can’t help but see it.  I know I’ve been seeing sexism my whole life, and it’s embarrassing that it took me sixteen years to really start noticing it.  Also, it’s disheartening that that makes me better than many, if not most, other people.

It is easy to dwell on the negative, and clearly there is a lot of negative to dwell on.  I’m generally an optimistic person, though.  I choose to find something positive in my experiences.  That positive is the fact that even as an idiot teenager, I was able to recognize sexism and it has been impossible for me to miss it since.  I’m inclined to believe that the same would be true for others.  If we can get others to see and recognize sexism, they will continue to see and recognize it.  And more people recognizing sexism will lead to legitimate social pressures to curb sexism, which will lead to less sexism.  At least that is my hope.

The trick is getting people to recognize sexism when they see it.  Hectoring and yelling won’t do it.  That’s more likely to get people to close off than open up.  Illustrations probably won’t help much either.  Seeing a rat in a zoo isn’t going to help anyone notice a rat in New York.  People need to recognize sexism when they see it in its natural environment.  I can see the arts helping.  Most people are pretty good at seeing the connections between art and life.  But I think the most effective way is to just talk about it, especially with children.  When I say talk, that is what I mean.  Scolding and shaming won’t work.

We have a tendency to treat sexism as taboo.  We don’t talk about it in normal circumstances.  But I don’t understand why.  We talk about all kinds of other bad things that we encounter each day.  Many of us can’t wait to get to work so we can tell our coworkers all about that idiot who blew right through the stop sign.  And we take delight in sharing our experiences being stuck behind that person with at least twenty items in the express check out line.  So, let’s start talking freely about that idiot car salesman who only addresses the man when a couple walks in.  Let’s gossip about the jerk who thinks it’s OK to start talking to a woman even though she is clearly talking to her friend.  Talking can only help.

I’ll end this by saying that I know my analogy can’t be taken too far.  City rats and sexism are alike in that they are invisible to many people and once they are noticed, a person can’t help but notice them.  That’s as far as it goes, though.  Rats are actually pretty amazing creatures and I’m sure they fill an ecological niche somewhere.  Sexism has nothing positive to recommend it.  The sooner we recognize that, the better.

Advertisements

The 2015 MLB Playoffs

The 2015 MLB playoffs start today.  It’s mostly a good group of teams and looks to be a fun few weeks.  Here is each team along with the reasons why you should root for them.

Houston Astros 86-76 Second AL Wildcard:

Houston is a perpetually snake-bitten franchise and no one expected them to contend this year, so they have the whole underdog thing going for them.  Jose Altuve is awesome.  They have the best baseball names of any team in a long time.  Look at their 25 man roster:

C Max Stassi R / R
C Hank Conger B / R
C Jason Castro L / R
DH Evan Gattis R / R
IF Jonathan Villar B / R
IF Luis Valbuena L / R
IF Jon Singleton L / L
IF Jed Lowrie B / R
IF Marwin Gonzalez B / R
IF Matt Duffy R / R
IF Carlos Correa R / R
IF Chris Carter R / R
IF Jose Altuve R / R
OF Preston Tucker L / L
OF George Springer R / R
OF Colby Rasmus L / L
OF Jake Marisnick R / R
OF Carlos Gomez R / R
P Vincent Velasquez B / R
P Joe Thatcher L / L
P Dan Straily R / R
P Tony Sipp L / L
P Chad Qualls R / R
P Oliver Perez L / L
P Pat Neshek B / R
P Collin McHugh R / R
P Lance McCullers L / R
P Dallas Keuchel L / L
P Scott Kazmir L / L
P Will Harris R / R
P Luke Gregerson L / R
P Mike Fiers R / R
P Josh Fields R / R
P Michael Feliz R / R

I haven’t seen baseball names like that since I was a kid rooting for Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Jim Rice, Jack Morris and Fernando Valenzuela.  If I were writing a book about a baseball team, these are the names I would pick.  Oh, and Jose Altuve is awesome.

New York Yankees 87-75 First AL Wildcard:

I’m sorry, but there is no reason why anyone should be rooting for the Yankees.  That goes generally, but especially this year.  They are completely unlikeable and they aren’t even a good team.  Let’s all just hope they lose to Houston so we can enjoy the rest of the playoffs.

Texas Rangers 88-74 American League West Champions:

Sort of like Houston, Texas has defied expectations, which is nice.  They rescued Josh Hamilton from Anaheim, which is also nice.  And Mike Napoli is one of the most likeable players in all of baseball.

Toronto Blue Jays 93-69 American League East Champions:

Toronto hasn’t won since 1993.  A title drought always makes for a good team to root for.  Plus, they have actually been a pretty good team for a while now, but they have had the unfortunate luck of playing in the AL East.  I swear there was a ten year stretch where they came in third every year and would have been first in any other division.  And they have a knuckleballer in their starting rotation.

Kansas City Royals 95-67 American League Central Champions:

There are just so many reasons to root for KC.  Salvador Perez is amazing.  Lorenzo Cain catches everything.  That bullpen is fantastic.  And they are just an all around fun team.

Chicago Cubs 97-65 Second NL Wildcard:

First of all, they’re the Cubs.  Saying you don’t like the Cubs is like saying you don’t like puppies.  They could win ten years in a row and they’d still feel like underdogs.  Arrieta is a legitimate ace.  Bill Murray would be thrilled if they won.  And they have ivy on their wall.

Pittsburgh Pirates 98-64 First NL Wildcard:

Talk about a fun team.  Andrew McCutchen is probably the most fun player in all of baseball.  He should be the most famous, too.  They are stuck with the Cardinals in their division, so no one seems to notice just how good they are.  Their ballpark is beautiful.  Even on TV, it’s nice to look at.  Plus, they won 98 games and they are stuck playing a wildcard game.  If there were any justice, they would win.

New York Mets 90-72 National League East Champions:

It’s been a while for Met fans.  They have a fantastic rotation.  And it would be great for the Mets to get the spotlight for a while.  They are so much better than that other New York team.

Los Angeles Dodgers 92-70 National League West Champions:

Zach Greinke and Clayton Kershaw  are the two best pitchers on the planet.  The more we get to see them pitch, the better.  When he’s healthy, Puig is the most exciting player in baseball.  They are full of tradition and play in another beautiful ballpark.  They haven’t won in more than 25 years.

St. Louis Cardinals 100-62 National League Central Champions:

This is a tough one.  They did have the best record in baseball, so I guess they deserve to be in the playoffs.  And they aren’t the Yankees, so there’s that.

So, there you have it.  This year’s MLB playoffs and reasons to root for each team.  Sorry about the Cardinals and the Yankees.  It’s not my fault there aren’t any good reasons to root for them.

The US Open

For anyone who doesn’t pay attention to tennis, the US Open starts today.  This is looking to be a great tournament.  Serena Williams is trying to win a Grand Slam (again, for anyone who doesn’t follow tennis, that is winning all four majors in a calendar year).  If she does it, it will be the first Grand Slam since Steffi Graf did it in 1988.  If Williams wins, she will also tie Steffi Graf with 22 major victories for the most in the open era.  Needless to say, all of the pressure is on Serena, but I really hope she does it.

On the men’s side, it is really Novak Djokovic’s tournament to lose.  Barring some kind of weather or injury craziness, Andy Murray is the only one with a realistic shot of beating him.  I like both of them, so I would be fine with either of them winning.  I’d also be happy to see all the cards land right for Roger Federer to win one more, but I’m not optimistic about that.  What I’m really hoping for, though, is to have some 20 year old that I’ve never heard of have a magical two weeks and win this thing.  Like I said, I like the favorites, but the past decade of men’s tennis has been so dominated by a handful of names that I’d just love to see someone new.

I look forward to the US Open every year because it is the only major that lands in my time zone, so I can actually watch the matches.  It is also a different kind of tennis, though.  It is louder.  The crowds play a major role.  And it’s just plain fun.  Even if you are not a tennis fan, this is a fun tournament to watch.

The Allman Brothers Band

I was lucky enough to attend the final Allman Brothers Band concert at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.  When I first found out I was going, I thought I might write a review and post it here.  But, I soon realized that to write a review correctly, I would need to take notes and/or get a recording of the show.  I don’t have the money for a recording and I didn’t want the show to feel like an assignment.  I wanted to enjoy myself and soak it all in.  So, I left the reviewing to others.  It was a fantastic show, as the reviewers correctly pointed out.  I’ve seen the Allman Brothers somewhere around 75 times* and it was by far the longest show I ever saw them do.  It was about 4 1/2 hours.  It was also the closest thing to a greatest hits show I ever saw them do.  Every song they played was a song that is associated with the Allman Brothers Band with the sole exception of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”.

It’s been a little while since that show.  The members of the band are all continuing on with other projects.  I’m looking forward to those, their individual projects are pretty great, too.  But, I’ve also been thinking about the Allman Brothers Band’s legacy.

The first thing people tend to do when writing about things, especially legacies, is categorize them.  This is natural and understandable.  It is hard to discuss something without boundaries.  But, there is a problem with categories.  They have to be used very carefully.  Otherwise, something that was intended to help facilitate discussion becomes misleading or incorrect.  For example, Jackie Robinson was a Hall of Fame baseball player, a dominant college athlete, a celebrity, a veteran, a husband, and a father.  But, if one were to pick any of those categories in describing Jackie Robinson’s legacy, it would be horribly misleading if not plain wrong.  Jackie Robinson was a civil rights pioneer and a hero.  Everything else is detail.

One of the first things many people say about the Allman Brothers is that they pioneered “Southern Rock.”  I don’t really know what that means.  Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, and Jerry Lee Lewis were all Southern and played rock.  In fact, almost all early rock was “Southern Rock.”  The term doesn’t say anything about the Allmans or their sound.  As Gregg once said, calling something “Southern Rock” is the same as saying “Rock Rock.”

Another term that gets used when talking about the Allmans is “Jam Band.”  This is another term that is virtually meaningless.  Yes, they were a band that jammed, but this tells us next to nothing about them.  Every band that uses improvisation jams.  It would be strange to say that the Allman Brothers sound the same as Soulive, but they are both “Jam Bands.”

There are two reasons these labels bother me.  One is that these labels have probably caused a lot of people to miss the Allmans’ music.  When I hear “Southern Rock,” I immediately think of Confederate Flags and good ol’ boys and it all feels racist and like something I don’t want to be a part of.  And when many people here “Jam Band,” they think of long songs with no direction or structure.  The Allman Brothers Band is about music.  They are not about being Southern (even though they are) and they are not about jamming (even though they do).  They are about good songs played well.  If not for the labels, many more people would know that.

The other reason it bothers me is that it diminishes their legacy.  Duane’s original vision for the band was a group of musical equals all playing music together.  It wasn’t about the singer or lead guitarist.  It certainly wasn’t about celebrity.  It was about playing without barriers or boundaries.  It was about celebrating the music they loved while pushing it in new directions.  Saying that they were the first “Southern Rock” band or an early “Jam Band” misses what they actually were all about.

It turns out that the Allman Brothers Band’s legacy is that they never swayed from Duane’s original vision.  First, there are the songs.  The hits like Melissa, Midnight Rider, and Ramblin’ Man are a part of our collective culture.  We all know the words and can’t help but sing along when we hear them.  They had a real range of songs, too.  Blue Sky is the happiest song I’ve ever heard.  Whipping Post is the angriest (I often say it’s the best Metal song of all time).  Dreams is Jazz, Revival is Gospel, No One Left to Run With is Rock, Trouble No More is Blues, and Where It All Begins is Country.  Songs like Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More have amazing lyrics.  And Little Martha is flat out gorgeous.

Then, there are the musicians.  Ultimately, the Allmans were a musicians’ band in the same sense that Bernard Purdie is a drummer’s drummer and Willie Weeks is a bassist’s bassist. You have:

Duane Allman – Brilliant guitarist. Famous for his slide playing, but equally good fretting. He was a session player before forming the band.  Aside from his amazing work with the Allmans, check him out with Aretha Franklin on her version of The Weight and on Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs with Derek and the Dominoes.

Gregg Allman – Vocals, Organ, Piano, Guitar, Songwriter.  His keyboard playing is somewhere between Booker T. and Jimmy Smith.  In a lot of ways, he is the glue that held the band together.  His voice is legendary.  It is raspy in the best way.  Even as a young man he sounded old.  And the songs are wonderful.  Aside from the Allmans, check him out with his solo project and with the Derek Trucks Band on Drown in my Own Tears.

Dicky Betts – Guitar, Vocal, Songwriter.  He helped invent the twin lead guitar sound that, for many people, defines the Allman Brothers.  He has that country twang in his voice.  But, for me, no one writes a happy song like Dicky.  It is relatively easy to write about pain and sorrow.  A song like Blue Sky is so joyful and wonderful.  He also wrote one of the most popular instrumentals in Jessica.  He can also be heard with Great Southern and solo.

Jaimoe – Drums.  At the last show, Jaimoe said he wanted to be the worlds greatest Jazz drummer and Duane gave him that chance.  The twin drums defines the Allmans almost as much as the twin lead guitars.  Jaimoe always provided fascinating colors and textures beyond a simple beat.  He can also be heard with Sea Level and Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band.

Butch Trucks – Drums. The other half of the twin drum section.  Butch is the rock solid foundation of the band.  He’s the main tympani player.  He always reminded me of Al Jackson Jr. in the way he made everyone else sound better.  Even in the drum solos he played without ego.  He can also be heard with Frogwings.

Berry Oakley – Bass.  If Butch is Al Jackson, then Berry is Duck Dunn.  His groove was perfect.  He was capable of flash, but only when the song called for it.  His bass line is a huge part of what makes Whipping Post work.

Chuck Leavell – Keyboards.  The solo on Jessica alone would make Chuck one of the all time greats.  He has chops to spare, but he’s so soulful.  He has been with the Stones for more than 20 years, he is the pianist on Eric Clapton’s Unplugged, and he’s on about a thousand other records.  He can also be heard with Sea Level and on his solo records.

Lamar Williams – Bass.  He’s another rock solid bass player.  He’s bouncier than Berry, but still has a great groove.  He can also be heard with Sea Level.

Dan Toler – Guitar.  He was known as Dangerous Dan because he could shred.  He was only in the Allmans briefly, but he can also be heard with The Gregg Allman Band.

Warren Haynes – Guitar, Vocals, Songwriter.  Warren was a huge part of the Allmans’ revival in the 90’s.  He has a great, gritty voice drenched in Southern soul.  His guitar work is amazing.  He can move from slide to fretted and back without missing a beat.  And Soulshine is his composition and stands along any other song in their repertoire.  He can also be heard on solo albums, as a special guest with tons of people, and with Gov’t Mule.

Alan Woody – Bass.  I don’t think any two people have been as musically compatible as Warren and Woody.  Woody had a restless curiosity in his playing.  It’s like he was always looking for something new.  He can also be heard with Gov’t Mule.

Marc Quinones – Percussion.  Who would have thought that a band famous for its two drummers would have room for an additional percussionist?  Marc made it work.  He added an exotic energy to the music without making it Latin or African.  He can also be heard with Rueben Blades and Spyro Gyra.

Oteil Burbridge – Bass.  Oteil is one of the most versatile musicians around.  If you want funk, soul, jazz, blues, or country, he’s perfect.  His solos are amazing.  He’s equally adept with a pick or his fingers.  He can also be heard with the Aquarium Rescue Unit and Oteil and the Peacemakers.

Derek Trucks – Guitar.  Derek is simply amazing.  I have never seen another musician grow so consistently from night to night.  He is the whole package: intelligence, passion, virtuosity, and musicianship.  He started as a slide player, but has become fluent on the frets as well.  He can also be heard with The Derek Trucks Band and The Tedeschi Trucks Band.

Put these musicians together and you get a band that was perfect.  They were adventurous like the best jazz bands, passionate like the best blues bands, and accessible like the best pop bands.  That’s quite a legacy.

 

 

 

 

*75 is an odd number.  It’s is way more than a casual fan, but no where near a hard core fan.  For most people, I must have been pretty obsessed, but for the people who were actually obsessed, I was a lightweight.

My New York City Adventure

My wife and I spent last weekend in New York City.  She had a continuing education class on Friday, so I had the whole day to myself.  I had no plan or agenda.  I left my bags at the hotel and went out walking.  I got breakfast at some diner, which I can’t remember.  Eggs and an English muffin with orange juice, which was fine, but nothing special.  Then, since I was in the neighborhood, I wandered over to Rudy’s.

Rudy’s is a famous music shop in Manhattan.  By famous, I mean a place that people who are into guitars have heard of, even if they aren’t from New York City.  They always have nice stuff there, but well out of my price range.  There were a couple nice looking MTD basses, but for whatever reason, window shopping guitars wasn’t doing it for me that morning.  I was in the mood for records.  So, I asked one of the people at Rudy’s where I could find a good record shop.  He laughed and said that there are tons of them, but that I was in the wrong part of town.  Rudy’s is on 7th and 48th, near Times Square.  He said I had to go to the East Village or Williamsburg.  He mentioned Rough Trade records as the best around.  I asked if they had a specialty and he said no, they have everything.  I was a little hesitant to walk all the way to Brooklyn (I always walk, I hate the subway and taxis), but I had a whole day to kill, so I decided to go see what Rough Trade was all about.

Now, I’m not from New York City.  I’m from Connecticut and I went to college in New Paltz, New York, which is about two hours north of NYC.  That’s why I refuse to call it the City or New York.  The City is too vague.  There are lots of cities and I don’t want anyone to be confused about which one I mean.  And most of New York is not New York City.  I know, I lived there for three years.  Living near New York City for my whole life has given me a different kind of perspective.  I’ve been there a lot.  I’m comfortable there.  I mostly know my way around, but I’m not a native.  The natives are quick to point this out.  I don’t take the best routes.  I go to touristy places.  They know the real New York City and as an outsider, I do not.  I have to admit, part of why I decided to take this walk was to see what I could see, to try to see this real NYC.

When I left Rudy’s I didn’t exactly know where I was going.  I knew I had to head south and east to find the Williamsburg Bridge.  I figured the safest way to do that was to head east until I hit the river and then go south until I hit the bridge.  That way there would be no chance of overshooting my target.  Once I was in Brooklyn, I’d check my phone for real directions.  My plan worked.  It turns out I had to back track a little as the bridge doesn’t start right at the river, but I found my way.

I would talk about the walk itself, but there really isn’t much to say.  I passed a lot of buildings that mostly looked the same.  There were some schools with kids playing outside, some small parks with people walking their dogs, churches, restaurants, and businesses.  I think I passed about 100 Starbucks and 150 Duane Reades.  There was a ton of graffiti on the bridge, but none of it was interesting or amusing.  Williamsburg was more residential and the buildings were a bit smaller, but there still wasn’t much to talk about.

Finally, I arrived at Rough Trade.  It was promising from the outside.  It looked like a record store.  It had a handwritten sign out front and the usual notices near the door.  I spent a long time working retail, so one of the first things I noticed upon entering was a lot of wasted space.  But, it was a large space, so they still had potential.  Unfortunately, the second thing I noticed was that they clearly don’t have everything.  It is really focused on Indy-pop, which is not my thing.  After some wandering I found the Jazz section.  It took up half a bay, and the other half was filled with blues, folk, country, and roots music.  I started digging, and trying to lower my expectations, but I was disappointed.  Their jazz selection was mostly classics and look-at-me-avant-garde (I know that sounds incredibly snobby of me, but I’m not sure how else to describe it) and blues was even less interesting.  It’s not that it was a bad store, it seemed to have a lot of pop, dance, and hip hop, but it sure wasn’t what I was looking for.  I left and walked back to my hotel without even stopping for lunch.

I know my New York City adventure doesn’t sound like much.  There wasn’t a lot of adventure, it was boring, and I wound up disappointed.  But, it wasn’t a waste of a day.  I learned something.  I learned that the real New York City has been right under my nose all these years.  I missed it because the natives have such pride in their city.  I’ve always expected the real New York City to be big, exciting, and wonderful.  The real NYC, however, is just like every other city.  It’s people’s homes, schools, and favorite restaurants.  It’s people’s friends, neighbors, and pets.  It’s sweet, in a way, that the natives love their city so much that they think these things are special.  And, they’re half right.  Homes, schools, restaurants, friends, neighbors, and pets are special, but they are special everywhere.  People shouldn’t go to New York City looking for the real New York City.  They should go for the Met, MOMA, and Guggenheim.  They should go for Broadway, Rockefeller Center, and the Empire State Building.  Those are the things that make New York City unique because those are the things you can’t get anywhere else.

Why I Hate Derek Jeter

In case you haven’t heard, Derek Jeter has retired from baseball.  Thank God.  I have been a Jeter Hater for most of the last 20 years.  The past six months have been really rough.  One of the worst things about it has been the way I’m immediately attacked for the fact that I don’t like Jeter.  He’s just an athlete.  My not liking him is kind of like my hating The Matrix, it doesn’t matter.  I can hate Derek Jeter and it in no way affects anyone else’s love or hate of Jeter.  There’s no need to feel threatened.  I have my reasons just like other people have their reasons for loving Derek Jeter.  But, since I’m always having to defend myself for my Jeter hatred, I thought I’d go over the reasons here.  This way, whenever anyone expresses disbelief at my feelings, I can just direct them here and forget about it.

A whole lot of my Jeter hatred comes from the whole New York thing.  I’ve said this many times, but New York City should have a real shot at being the greatest city in the world.  It’s not, though.  The single biggest reason why it’s not the greatest city in the world is because New Yorkers are constantly reminding the rest of us that it is the greatest city in the world.  Their excessive pride comes off as annoying insecurity.  Frankly, even though it has far less to offer, I’d rather visit Philly.  For the past 20 years, people have been telling me, “You gotta love Jeter.”  Well, this may come as a shock, but no, I don’t.  He was the shortstop for my least favorite sports franchise.  Why would I have to love him?  Every single time someone said it to me, it made me like him a little less.  Over the course of a 20 year career, I heard it more times than I could count.  It was probably sometime in 2001 when the constant barrage of, “You gotta love Jeter,” tipped me over into hatred.

My next biggest reason for hating Jeter is at least baseball related.  I’ve been watching baseball for most of my life.  I recognize that Jeter is a Hall of Famer.  If I had a vote, despite my hatred, I would vote for him.  However, he is not the greatest shortstop ever.  For his last ten years, he was the second or third best shortstop on his own team.  When I look at other great players like Cal Ripken, Carl Yaztremski, Jackie Robinson, Craig Biggio, and Chipper Jones, they were all willing to switch positions to help the team.  Not Captain Jetes, though.  He was going to play shortstop every day, no matter how bad his range got.  That’s not a quality I like in a player.

Then there is the off the field issues. He’s a great role model! I can tell you, I wouldn’t want my daughter dating Derek Jeter. Someday she’ll turn 25 and get traded in for a newer model (get it?). I may be weird, but I don’t like the fact that he keeps getting older, but his girlfriends never do. He’s a player (or playa). That’s not a problem as long as the girls know what they’re getting in to. It’s just not what I think of when I think of a role model.

He’s also a terrible interview and unbelievably boring.  He went to the Crash Davis school of baseball and never deviated from the text.  I watch baseball to be entertained, so I want my players to be entertaining.  A PR professional couldn’t have delivered better talking points.  It would be nice if, once or twice in 20 years, he expressed an actual opinion. Give me Johnny Damon or Nick Swisher or Rickey Henderson any day.

I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m also annoyed by the way the baseball press covered him.  His most famous home run was really a fly ball to the warning track.  If anyone else hit it, we would have had non-stop talk of the need for instant replay.  He would not have been dubbed a hero.  The flip was unspeakably bad base running by Jeremy Giambi.  Hear the press talk about it, though, and you’d think it was Vince Coleman in his prime running the bases.  Even the home run that got him the title Mr. November came in a series he lost.  Would Reggie Jackson be known as Mr. October if his teams lost the world series?

And there’s also the whole class thing.  This isn’t really Jeter’s fault, but he’s constantly described as classy.  There are two reasons why this bothers me.  The first is I don’t want my baseball players to be classy.  If you offered my team 25 Yasiel Puigs, I would be the happiest fan on the planet.  I want more flair, not less.  It annoys me the same way as when the music press can’t stop talking about a musician’s outfits.  I don’t listen to the outfits.  Who cares if Jeter is classy?  How does he play baseball?  The second reason it bugs me is that you can’t do a year long farewell tour, making yourself the center of attention, and shilling for Nike and Gatorade and still be considered classy.

Finally, there’s an old trick I try to use to tell if I should be bothered by something or not. Basically, I imagine someone else did the action to see if I would have the same reaction. If my boss says something that bothers me, I imagine my wife saying the same thing. If I still find it annoying, I’m justified. If I no longer find it annoying, I’m being unfair to my boss. Jeter doesn’t do well with this technique.  If anyone else dated the girls he dates, the New York press would tear him apart.  Arod caught constant grief for dating Cameron Diaz.  At least they’re the same age.  When Bob Sheppard died, Jeter chose to use a recording of Bob Sheppard for his at bats.  Everyone ate it up; what a touching tribute.  All I can see is that Jeter is obviously too good for the new guy.  I can’t help but think if any other player had tried it, the team would have said no.  And if, by some weird oversight, the team didn’t say no, the press would have killed that person for drawing attention to himself rather than honoring the deceased.

Now, I hope everyone understands that I’m talking about Derek Jeter, the baseball player and media persona.  At the beginning I mentioned that hating Jeter is like hating The Matrix.  As a movie, it failed to entertain me.  At the end of it, I was out ten bucks and got nothing for it.  I’ve never met Jeter.  He’s probably nice, smart, funny, and engaging.  As a baseball player, though, Derek Jeter was never my type, but that never stopped half the world from trying to fix us up.  He’s out of baseball now.  Hopefully, I can go most of the next five years without hearing about him.