It is sad.
It is sad that because of Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon’s 50-game suspensions for use of PEDs, every MLB player with an uptick in performance in the twilight of their careers will be the target of suspicion.
“I am shocked by what I am seeing from Derek Jeter right now,” Bayless said, noting that the 38-year-old shortstop has already eclipsed his hit and home run totals of last season…I sat back last night thinking about this and I thought, ‘You know what? You would have to have your head in the sand or your head somewhere else to not at least wonder, how is he doing this?’ ”
Here was Jeter’s response:
“What do you want me to say? “I ain’t getting involved with this, man. You can say whatever you want to say now, huh? There’s no repercussions.”
Hopefully there will be repercussions. Because Bayless accusing Jeter of using PEDS without any sort of evidence should be grounds for punishment by ESPN.
Frankly, Bayless’ actions are repulsive.
If you study Jeter’s entire body of work,all the way back to when his stats were first recorded, you will find a baseball player who has shown consistent excellence.
Jeter is one of the greatest players in MLB history. He got there through hard work, conditioning and countless hours studying tendencies of big-league pitchers with a vigor like the kind Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning applies to his job.
Yet all Bayless could focus on was Jeter’s uptick in performance this year, after the All-Star shortstop showed signs of decline the last two years.
Bayless focused on Jeter’s season .324 batting average. Yet Bayless failed to account for Jeter’s slump in June where he hit just .232 (26-for-112), not to mention Jeter’s power numbers are on par with seasons past.
It is ridiculous.
But here is something that is not—and this is often neglected by people who think athletes are robots.
Sometimes people who never walked in the shoes of an aging athlete do not get it. They do not realize the game aging athletes love becomes easier and less pressure-packed when he or she realizes the window to their career is slowly coming to a close.
When that happens the game becomes more fun. When the game becomes fun, the game slows down. Things become clearer. And suddenly that 95-mph fastball with sharp movement is not such a challenge.
No matter the sport, no matter the level of competition, this is called being at peace.
It is the same peace Jeter is experiencing right now.
It is also the same peace Atlanta Braves superstar Chipper Jones is enjoying.
Jones hit .275 (125-for-455) with 18 home runs and 70 RBI on battered knees in 2011. Now in 2012, in Jones’ final season he is batting .311 (88-for-283) with 13 home runs and 54 RBI, again on ailing knees.
Why did Bayless not go after Chipper in the same breath as Jeter?
Better yet, since Bayless went after Jeter, why not go after Cal Ripken Jr. too?
Cal Ripken Jr. had an uptick in performance in 1999 in a season marred by injury and the loss of his father. That year, Ripken batted .340 (113-for-332) with 18 homers and 57 RBI. This, after a 1998 campaign in which Ripken batted .271 (163-for-601) with 14 home runs and 61 RBI in 161 games.
Then in 2000 the wheels came off, for Ripken hit just .256 with 15 home runs and 56 RBI in another season sliced by injury (83 games).
Did anyone accuse Ripken of taking PEDs after his 1999 season?
Because believe it or not, there are players on this earth that have excelled without having to take PEDs.
But unfortunately, there are men like Bayless who thrive on undercutting champions.
And this is sad.
It is sad because at the end of the day, the men and women who did things right are still susceptible to having their good names dragged through the mud.
But one of the most beautiful things about America is this: With freedom of speech comes freedom of rebuttal.
Thursday morning Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless made clarifying remarks to this situation on ESPN First Take. You can see the video here. Special thanks to Joe Sed for pasting the link in the comments section.