In his second at-bat, on July 9th 2011, against Tampa Bay Rays' starting pitcher David Price, the New York Yankees' captain Derek Jeter smacked his 3000th hit. The count was 3-2 in the bottom of the third inning when the Yankee shortstop jacked a solo home run off a knee high pitch to deep left-center field for number 3000. If that wasn't enough Jeter went 5 for 5, was a triple short of hitting for the cycle, and his final at-bat was a hit that helped the New York Yankees defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in front of the home crowd.
It would have been impossible for anyone to have scripted a more historic and iconic performance than the one Derek Jeter accomplished just four days ago. In fact several baseball analysts have deemed Jeter's 3000th hit performance, against the Tampa Bay Rays, the greatest ever as he became the first Yankee to accumulate 3000 hits.
One would assume that the New York Yankees' captain could do no wrong after such a prestigious and historic accomplishment, but such an assumption would inevitably be premature.
Just a few short days after becoming the 28th player to accumulate 3000 hits in a career Derek Jeter was back in the hot seat.
Upon discovering that Jeter would not be attending the 2011 MLB All-Star Game, because of the "physical and emotional exhaustion" involved in chasing 3000 hits, baseball analysts from seemingly every major sports media outlet piled on their criticisms of Jeter's decision to skip the mid-summer classic.
Considering his age and injuries this season, was it smart for Derek Jeter to rest during the All-Star Break?
Oddly enough it was those same baseball analysts who just a week ago criticized Jeter as being unworthy of selection to this year's MLB All-Star Game in Phoenix, AZ. With an unimpressive stat line featuring a .270 AVG, 3 HR, 24 RBI, and a .330 OBP it is obvious that the 16 year Yankee veteran's selection to the All-Star Game comes from being a fan favorite rather than from his performance. Yet somehow the criticism keeps coming.
Jeter could not avoid criticism for being voted into the MLB All-Star Game and he could not avoid criticism for skipping the very same All-Star Game analysts said he should not even be playing in.
Well what if history had been different? What if the 37 year old Yankee attended the MLB All-Star Game and gotten his 3000th hit after the All-Star break? Cue more criticism.
Jeter would have been criticized for taking a roster spot from a more deserving player (as if that were possible). Had he played poorly during the All-Star Game there would have been more criticism about his performance this season. The 2011 MLB All-Star Game would have turned into a national broadcast focused on Derek Jeter's declining abilities and off-season troubles with the New York Yankees. And as an added bonus, it would have dumped more pressure on New York Yankees' manager Joe Girardi to make a roster adjustment.
Regardless of whether Jeter decided to attend the 2011 MLB All-Star Game or stay at home to rest for Thursday's road game against the Toronto Blue Jays he had already been blasted for both.
The truth is no one saw Jeter's performance coming, it blew everyone away, and left baseball analysts to eat their criticisms. The most likable guy in baseball wooed all of his critics to cheer just long enough for the mid-summer classic to come by and sucker punch him. Now everyone with a sports blog, radio show, or TV show is a critic.